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Seasonal changes begin on the (organic) farm

By Dave Buchanan

Let’s see. You’ve visited most of the wineries in the valley, bent your elbow at a nearby distillery and quaffed a brew or two (I love that) at one of the local brewpubs.

What to do, what to do?

There is the entire North Fork Valley to visit, with wineries and brewpubs and yes, even a distillery or two, although most of the wineries are in winter mode, which means call first, while the distilleries and brewpub(s) always are happy to see a new face.

Here’s a hint for something more seasonal: Know farmers, know food.

It’s almost calendrically spring, if there is such a word, and that means fruit blossoms, rambunctious baby animals and the universal green emergence that nearly overwhelms the winter-dulled senses.

Because the green-fuse energy is so concentrated in a small valley, few places in Colorado can rival the explosion of spring that overwhelms the North Fork Valley.

Toss in a happy farmer or two, especially one willing to share the secrets to the bounty from his land – and with a sense of humor to boot – and you find yourself face-to-face with Steve Ela of the Ela Family Farms on Rogers Mesa.

Just so you won’t think his is strictly a one-man farm, Steve and Becky Ela and their family and co-workers will be hosting their annual Farm Tour this year on April 14, a whole day before your taxes are due and time enough to forget that next-day date with the foot-tapping accountant.

The tour starts at 10 a.m. and takes the better part of two hours, maybe more, if you ask a lot of questions and can talk Steve into grafting a new fruit tree or two, starting up the wind machine (hold on to your hat) and explaining why he grows peaches, cherries and apples and not, say, apricots. You'll Steve in the accompanying photo discussing organic farming during the 2012 farm tour wiht Mark Glenn and Melanie Evans-Glenn of Conscious Coffee, a craft coffee roaster in Boulder. 

For someone whose “farm” consists of a 10×15 garden in the backyard, what happens on a real farm, particularly an assiduously organic farm, can be something of a mystery.

When do you prune and how much, do you use pesticide/insecticide, where do all these apples go, and how many types of apples do you have, anyway, are good questions to pose, since Steve and Becky know the answers.

The tour is popular among the members of the Ela CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture) and you’ll meet people from all around Colorado. Last year’s tour drew around 80 people while the farm dinner attracted about 100.

This year’s Saturday night dinner, due to the spring-fresh mid-April date, will be at Dava Parr’s delightful Fresh & Wyld Farmhouse Inn in Paonia. Dinner costs are $45 adults, $16 children under 4 feet, $8 children under 2 feet.

Many of the visiting Front Rangers spend Saturday night camping in the Elas’ orchard (or one of the Elas’ orchards, anyway), where this year the sliver of moon won’t hide the countless stars peppered across the sky.

The tour and education is free, the accompanying box lunch (from The Living Farm in Paonia) are $16 adults, $9 children.

Tour information and meal registration is available from Jeni at or 720-941-4889.

The friendship and peach blossoms also are free.


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For anyone whose “farm” consists of a 10—15 garden in the backyard 199-01 vce, what happens on a absolute farm 70-412 vce, decidedly an assiduously amoebic farm, can be something of a mystery.

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