Featured photo for Tour de Farms

Tour de Farms

“I got here way early,” Tori texted me 30 minutes before the start of the Tour de Farms.

I’d say. In contrast, I hadn’t even left the house yet. She really must have been eager to learn about urban farms and the produce that can be grown right here in Fort Collins, I thought, or perhaps she wanted to do some shopping at the Old Town Farmer’s Market beforehand. Or maybe she was super anxious about riding her bicycle for the first time since Tour de Coop?

Whatever the reason, I might have been better off borrowing a page from her modus operandi. As it was, I ended up pedaling my mountain bike over to Old Town ten minutes after I received Tori’s text, arriving at the start five minutes late. So I missed some of the introductory remarks, but at least I didn’t miss any of the tour yet.

This was the itinerary:

  1. Ride to the home of Kathy and Kirk, which also doubles as a wholesale nursery. Tour their beautiful rock gardens, vegetable plots, and tree farm, with presentation topics including the background of the property, tips for local gardeners, and chickens and bees.
  2. Bike over to the Sunshine Giving Garden at the home of Claudia and Sebastian. Overview of the The Growing Project and turning yards into agricultural space.
  3. Ride to Mugs Coffee Lounge Gardens at the home of McCabe. Learn about food production for the local coffee shop/restaurant and how the garden got started.
  4. Pedal over to Shire CSA and learn about the importance of local food and local food system. Eat lunch.

Some of the things I learned or was reminded of included:

  • It takes six or seven years for bristlecone pine to grow to a height of a few feet from seed.
  • Honey bees, in contrast to yellow jackets, rarely sting—particularly because they die when they do.
  • The value of the chickens at the LaPorte Avenue Nursery was not so much their eggs, but rather the poop/natural fertilizer they produced.
  • Vegetables that grow well in Fort Collins include squash (zucchini, pumpkin, yellow, acorn, etc.), basil, artichokes, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, green onions, and garlic. Of course there are many others but these are what I saw on the tour.
  • Many of the vegetables Mugs Coffee Lounge (in Old Town Fort Collins) uses for sandwiches are grown at the coffee shop owner’s own home. Not only does this make some economic sense, but is good for marketing as well.

While I enjoyed the presentations, property tours, and leisurely eight miles of pedaling in 80-90 degree heat for the tour, I particularly loved the lunch prepared by Scott of Chef Happy’s Gourmet. Using all-organic and mostly local ingredients, Scott whipped up crispy squash chips, smooth hummus, a creamy squash dip, tangy pesto, vegetarian carpaccio, and savory tabouli. This smorgasbord was sublime.

After lunch as Tori and I pedaled towards the CSU Flower Gardens where her car was parked, she mentioned that before the tour, one of the participants gave her a quick peek inside Panda Bicycles, which constructs bicycle frames out of bamboo here in the Fort. Man, I would have loved to have gotten a tour of that shop!

Next time I’ll have to show up “way early…”

A cargo/child-carrying bicycle available for loan by the Fort Collins Bicycle Library.
I rode my Cannondale F700 hardtail during the tour.
Front yard vegetable gardens.
The Shire CSA, where we ended off the tour with lunch.
Commander the Horse was doing his job by producing lots of compostable manure.
A pond and boat, good for Luke's "Tom Sawyer-like son."
A nice spread of organic goodness whipped up by Scott Hapner of Chef Happy's Gourmet.
Lots of bristlecone pine---the specialty of Kirk of LaPorte Avenue Nursery.
Honey bees at LaPorte Avenue Nursery.
Colorful eggs produced by the chickens (which were mainly kept for the manure) at LaPorte Avenue Nursery.
One ripe tomato among many.
Sunshine Giving Garden at the home of Claudia and Sebastian, members of the Growing Project.
A giant sunflower at the Mugs Coffee Lounge Gardens.
A successful green onion growing experiment.
Nice hammock.
Ready to roll at the Fort Collins Old Town Farmers Market, the start of the Tour de Farms.