Healthy Land

Philosophy

Inspired by Strawberry Park’s natural beauty and vibrant agricultural heritage, we are cultivating a spirit of abundance at Elkstone Farm. On this special land we are growing nutritious food for our neighbors while we nurture a close community. Side by side, we are working with the soil, tasting its fresh produce, and learning to be better stewards of the Earth. We invite others who share this vision to join our CSA, so that we can foster growth and prosperity together.

Our vision of abundance expands to our relationship with the land at Elkstone Farm. We are thoughtfully designing an agricultural ecosystem that is regenerative—that is evolving and growing and adapting over time. Using a whole-systems approach, we hope to restore the biocultural uniqueness of the place—paying close attention to soil and water quality, biodiversity of species, and resource management. In this pursuit we are guided by the land itself and steered by the principles of permaculture. We imbue our mission with gratitude for the replenishing power of the land and our supportive community.

Farm History

  • 1900 – 1915

    Remington Strawberry production booms, leading to area’s name: “Strawberry Park”.
    Photo courtesy: Tread of Pioneers Museum
  • 2005

    Elkstone owners, Terry Huffington and Ralph Dittman, make plans to bring commercial production of strawberries back to Strawberry Park
  • 2006

    Through mutual involvement with the Community Agricultural Alliance, Terry meets Lisa Benjamin who introduces her to permaculture—changing the trajectory of the farm
  • 2008

    Greenhouse construction begins with excavation into the south-facing hill
  • 2009

    Climate-battery greenhouse is completed and planted in August—farm officially begins!
  • 2010

    Fruit Forest is is planted with 18 varieties of apple trees, pear trees, currants, gooseberries, Siberian pea shrubs, and cover crops
  • 2011

    Solar Panels are installed. Also, construction on the “Bohai” farmhouse is completed and the Pond and Flower Gardens are planted—creating a beautiful focal point for the farm
  • 2012

    Hoophouse #1 is erected to provide additional space for growing annual vegetables
  • 2012-2013

    Seedhouse/washhouse is built to provide space for propagating plants in the winter, washing and packaging produce, and drying herbs
  • 2013

    Hoophouses #2 and #3 are constructed to meet the rising demand for locally-grown organic produce. And the Farm Stand opens for business
  • 2018

    Cooking classes begin
  • 2020

    Pilot season of CSA and Farm-to-Table dinners is well received by the local community, leading to plans for additional CSA seasons and dinners on the farm

Environments

1. Pond Garden

At the center of Elkstone Farm, the Pond Garden is a delightful mix of plants. Fruit trees, berry bushes, herb beds and flowers envelop the pond. As a recreated forest environment, the mature fruit trees are intermixed with many edible berries and medicinal herbs. Where the pond runs off toward the hay meadow, a gentle dispersion of aspen trees, asparagus and rhubarb patches await you.

2. Hoop Houses

Elkstone’s three hoophouses were built to optimize harvests and meet the demand for fresh local produce. They are passive solar structures, designed to take advantage of sun and air flow, with sides that can roll up for increased ventilation. Inside you’ll find vibrant rows of seasonal vegetables grown in a traditional organic gardening style.

3. Greenhouse

Thanks to an eco-efficient heating and cooling system called a climate battery, our greenhouse has a warm, dry, subtropical climate. This is an ideal environment for growing all kinds of Mediterranean plants such as citrus and figs, as well as a variety of herbs, exotic and edible flowers, and even a banana tree. Through strategic layering—with a canopy of tall trees shading smaller plants—we have made the most of our 2,880-sq.-ft. oasis.

4. Fruit Forest

Our fruit forest is designed to be a low maintenance perennial garden that mimics the strengths of a natural forest. Beneath varieties of apple and pear trees, fruiting shrubs like currants and gooseberries provide a yield as the fruit trees mature. The tapestry of different species creates a resilient ecosystem, with some plants attracting beneficial insects, some plants acting as ground cover to reduce evaporation, and some plants fixing nitrogen to improve the soil. Like a symphony, together they create harmony and are more productive than a mono-crop of a single species.

5. Flower Garden

Permaculture can be beautiful as well as functional! During the summer months our Flower Garden bursts with color, sweet aromas, and the pleasant buzz and flutter of pollinators. Pathways weave through enchanting floral displays and raised beds of edibles like blueberries and strawberries. Curved sandstone walls create a warm microclimate for early blooms and an inviting entryway to the Bohai house and the Greenhouse.

6. Agroforest

In the Agroforest we integrate forestry and agriculture—using trees, shrubs and crops to create a diverse, productive, and mutually beneficial environment. Rows of fruit trees provide shade, wind protection, and mulch for perennials like strawberries, raspberries, and asparagus, which are planted in alleys between the trees. We use swales to hold water on the contour of a gently sloped Southwest facing hill to both protect the fruit trees from early frosts and to keep the soil moist for the plants during the summer. The Agroforest is Elkstone’s largest environment and also its most long-term project.

7. Bohai House

This warm mountain farmhouse holds Elkstone’s commercial kitchen, office, and farm manager apartment. Large windows fill the space with light and views of the farm—inspiring tranquility and creativity—making it the perfect place to manage and make plans for the farm. Bohai’s kitchen has a homelike ambience, but it’s also a culinary powerhouse. It’s where we bring Farm-to-Table dinners to life, host cooking classes, and create delectable products with farm-grown ingredients.

8. Seedhouse

As the latest addition to Elkstone’s environments, the Seedhouse has made a big impact. It provides a dedicated, warm place for starting seeds—thereby extending the farm’s growing season for annual plants to as early as February. It doubles as a washhouse where harvested produce is washed, bundled, and labeled. Upstairs, herbs are dried before they are mixed and packaged for our teas and custom blends.

Tour the Farm

We like to share this stunning place and let others soak up its beauty, vitality, and special wisdom. If you are curious about Elkstone Farm and our unique way of growing food at 7,000 feet, we invite you to sign up for a tour.

On the tour, participants will be introduced to Elkstone’s different growing areas—each designed and managed in accordance with the principles of permaculture. Visitors will get to see for themselves how farming practices like plant guilds, food forests, climate battery greenhouses, and multi-layered planting work toward greater abundance. As a local model for regenerative agriculture, we are honored to share our knowledge—by working with nature we can optimize land use and create more ecological harmony.

Tours are small—limited to just 15 people—so that everyone can have an engaging experience. Private tours are available for $500 for up to 15 people with lunch included. Please enquire with our Farm Manager, Marco, to set a date.

Participants have the option to reserve a seat for a post-tour lunch, tastefully made with fresh ingredients grown on the farm.

** Please bring comfortable walking shoes, sunscreen, and a shade hat.

Tours: $15 per person
Optional farm-to-table lunch: $25 with tour reservation
Tour Dates: June 29th, July 13th, August 10th, and September 7th

Time:
Tour - 10:30am - noon
Lunch - Begins at noon

Annual Compost, Potting Soil, and Seedling Sale

At Elkstone, we want to give our fellow Yampa Valley gardeners a head start on a successful growing season. So we’ve teamed up with other Colorado agribusinesses to bring you these hardy, organic growing supplies: cow manure compost, potting soil, and heirloom seedlings.

Once again, we’re trucking in nutrient-dense, well-aged cow manure from a small, fifth-generation, family-owned dairy farm on the Front Range. This compost allows you to give your garden a boost in nutrients and tilth. Adding composted manure to soil helps with aeration and water retention, and it provides ample organic matter and beneficial bacteria to grow healthy plants. The clay-heavy soil of our alpine environment, when combined with good compost, creates amazing gardens.

Compost Order Form

Known as “The Bomb,” this living, super soil from Paonia Soil Co. is an amazing mixture of coconut coir, Colorado's own mastodon peat, biodynamically prepared chicken compost, trace minerals, kelp, and worm castings—inoculated with beneficial organisms and nematodes. If you want to start your own seedlings, this is the finest potting soil we’ve found for that.

Add Potting Soil to the Supplies Order Form

Each spring, with happy anticipation, we sow seeds in the shelter of our toasty seedhouse. We give our seedlings a solid, organic start in life, which amplifies their potential to be highly-productive mature plants. This year we’re offering a selection of our seedlings for sale—allowing you to finish your ski season strong while we start the seeds for you.

Add Seedlings to the Supplies Order Form
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