Produce farm in Hayden expands production, moves to new space
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There is a chill in the air, and snow covers the ground outside a farmhouse west of Hayden as Noah Price and Sydney Ellbogen talk about the operations of Mountain Bluebird Farm.
Soon the cold and snow will be gone, and the farm will be filled with a large variety of organic vegetables that will be available to those looking for locally grown produce.
“We have stuff growing in our greenhouse right now,” Price said. “The growing season is short here for sure, but there’s a lot of stuff that does really well because the nights in the summer aren’t quite as hot, and leafy greens, like spinach and lettuce and arugula, do really well in the summer, along with carrots and beets, radishes and turnips.”
Price and Ellbogen were introduced to organic farming on the 425-acre Black Cat Organic vegetable farm in the Longmont area. The couple arrived in the Yampa Valley in March and began growing on a small, off-the-grid, farm located on “The Cog” in Hayden. Mountain Bluebird Farm is not organically certified, but Price said the farm grows everything as if they were organically certified.
“The farmers market (in Steamboat Springs) is our main outlet,” Ellbogen said. “So we are starting our CSA (community supported agriculture) in June, and we are hoping to sell to a couple restaurants and at the (Community) Ag Alliance (Market). Those are kind of our community outlets.”
The farm’s first location was off grid, and the couple had to have the water they needed trucked in from Craig. Last summer, they realized they needed to find a new place to farm.
In November, Mountain Bluebird Farms moved to 6630 W. U.S. Highway 40 about 2 miles west of Hayden. Price and Ellbogen already have lettuce, kale, arugula and Mache growing inside a high tunnel — a non-heated greenhouse — on the farm. In the summer their operations will expand outside to a small plot just outside the farmhouse. They also plan to start growing items inside, like tomatoes and peppers, which have a shorter growing season.
“We are expanding our production this year by four or five times what we did last year,” Price said. “We need to expand, because we couldn’t keep up last year. Every single week, by 11 a.m. at the market, we were down to a bunch of this or a bag of that.”
The increased production means Mountain Bluebird Farm will begin offering farm shares in June, and the couple also has plans to open a small farm stand on the property once produce is available this spring. Price said it was the demand for locally grown produce that drew the couple to Northwest Colorado when he and Ellbogen started looking for locations for Mountain Bluebird Farm.
“We really were looking at where the market was,” Price said. “We wanted to be where the demand for local food is the highest, and the Yampa Valley is that place.”
Mountain Bluebird Farm enjoyed a long growing season last year that stretched into November. Price isn’t expecting that every year but is hoping to extend the growing season on both ends from April through Christmas in the future.
But even as Mountain Bluebird Farm grows, Ellbogen said customers in Steamboat Springs can expect the same selection of vegetables and top quality produce this summer when the farmers market returns.
“The farmers market has been awesome for us,” Ellbogen said. “It has great traffic, it’s in a wonderful location down by the river, and it’s just well run.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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