More than 30 local farms call Boulder County their home, making the area one big, organic grocery store—much to the delight of local residents seeking fresh farm-to-table ingredients for their own kitchen tables. For several months out of the year, local farmers are hard at work cultivating and growing everything from the usual vegetable garden suspects to honey to free-range cattle—all of which they package up and sell to the public every Wednesday and Saturday at the Boulder County Farmer’s Markets.
With so many vendors showcasing their fresh from the garden products each week at the farmer’s markets, it’s hard to pay a visit to each individual stand, which is why Longmont’s own Ollin Farms conveniently operates an on-site farm stand seven days a week; and they don’t stop there. This small, sustainable farm offers everything from farm dinners—in which they invite guests to visit the farm and dine on a four-course menu designed and prepared by local chef, Dale Lamb, using fresh ingredients picked straight from the farm—to weddings that offer couples that are ready-to-tie-the-knot, a scenic landscape setting along Lefthand Creek complete with shading by clusters of large cottonwood trees and the chance to serve their guests a gourmet meal made with ingredients grown from the same ground that they celebrate on.
For Ollin Farms owner Mark Guttridge, farming runs in the family. Mark, a Colorado native, grew up on a farm and maintained his own vegetable garden as a kid, and as he got older, he began to research organic farming and in 2007 opened Ollin Farms with his wife Kena, with the intention of creating a source of local food, and an awareness in the community of the different economical, ecological and nutritional benefits of supporting local farms.
This month, Mark and his family literally have their hands full preparing for their big summer Open House/Annual Tomato Festival in which they invite the public to check out this season’s most popular garden item. The farm grows more than 20 varieties of tomatoes and recently dominated the tomato competition at the Boulder County Fair by winning blue ribbons for best cherry tomato, best pear/plum tomato and best slicing tomato. Mark is a firm believer that tomatoes bought at the grocery store can’t compete with a tomato picked fresh off of the farm. With a mere two-day shelf life, tomatoes lose flavor and nutrition in the packaging and transportation process to commercial grocery stores and customers aren’t able to truly appreciate the fresh from the vine taste created from a ripe tomato grown in healthy, natural soil.
You can find Ollin Farms at the Longmont Farmer’s Market on Saturday afternoons and the Boulder Farmer’s Market on Wednesday nights. Be sure to visit the farm on Sunday, Aug. 14 from noon-5pm for tours of the farm, tomato sampling, live music, tips on canning and how to make the most out of garden vegetables and tons of fun activities for the kids. Also be sure to reserve your seat at the next Farm Dinner and enjoy a delicious meal full of freshly harvested produce, straight off the farm along with other locally sourced food all served to you on the rustic confines of the farm grounds.
Click here for more information on other upcoming events at Ollin Farms , and be sure to stop in and pick up some fresh tomatoes from the Ollin Farms farm stand and check out these 10 tasty ideas for preparing those tomatoes once you get them home!