With the coming of sunny spring weather (and fewer spring snowstorms), we’re all getting antsy for the growing season and our beloved Northern Colorado farmers markets. But weekly markets aren’t the only places to get fresh, local and sustainable produce in Fort Collins. Our city offers multiple options whether you want to work the field yourself or you just want a guaranteed ration of health food each week.
Community gardens offer an outlet to practice your green thumb and learn how the Fort Collins community is working to promote sustainability. With nine different gardens in the city limits, there are plenty of opportunities to grow your own plot or help in a shared one!
If you’d prefer to leave the gardening to someone else, Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA programs, are another excellent way to get local meat, veggies, fruit, eggs and more — directly from a local farmer! There’s no shortage of family farms in Fort Collins, so we have an abundance of CSA opportunities as well.
Check out our favorites and get ready for the harvest!
Photo courtesy of Gardens on Spring Creek
The Gardens on Spring Creek is the headquarters for much of Fort Collins’ gardening community, and the best place for education, practice and garden-themed social events. As of 2017, they manage seven community gardens throughout Fort Collins, including Buckingham Park, Edora Park, Rogers Park, Rolland Moore, English Ranch Park, the Senior Center, and one at the Gardens on Spring Creek.
At these community gardens, residents can grow their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and annual flowers in a 10 foot by 15-foot plot in a securely fenced area. Each location has a tool shed, picnic table, compost bins, and access to water and hoses, but gardeners are asked to provide their own tools, plants and other supplies.
Location: Lee Martinez Park
Growth Forth! is a local nonprofit striving to educate and promote food security in Larimer County. Through community gardens, educational programs and advocacy efforts, they ensure our county is provided with fresh, organic produce, and our younger generations have the knowledge to keep the land and community sustainable for years to come.
Their community garden is located at Lee Martinez Park and is run by members and volunteers who run educational workshops, assist at the annual Seed Swap and, of course, grow crops. The produce is then shared among volunteers, people in need and sold to cover the garden costs. To get involved, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Location: 2310 West Mulberry Street
Mulberry Community Gardens is a project of 21st Century Gardens, a local nonprofit. They provide an inclusive and community-centered environment to learn and participate in hands-on organic gardening opportunities in an effort to promote local growing and eating in the region.
The community garden is located on a one-acre plot with two gardens, native food plants, a neighborhood compost, chickens, Pygora goats, a young fruit orchard, a greenhouse, and a play area. Instead of renting individual plots, the full garden space is shared and worked equally by all members. Stop by at 2310 West Mulberry and dig in!
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. In recent years this process has become more and more popular throughout Northern Colorado. Supporters, or members, cover a farm’s yearly operating budget by purchasing a share of the season’s harvest. By doing so, they make a commitment to support the farm throughout the season and assume the costs, risks and bounty of growing food.
Functioning on a membership basis, you pay a one-time fee to reserve a fixed amount of vegetables, grains, fruits and other items then pick-up at the designated location and time. So, not only do you get to take home delicious, sustainable food, you still get the community atmosphere of a market!
Location: 2820 West Elizabeth Street
Happy Heart Farm was Colorado’s first CSA farm and is located right here in Fort Collins! Their little, urban farm has been home for three generations of families who have been growing food, fun and community spirit from the ground up for 34 years.
Location: 1008 Sunset Avenue
Sunspot is a small, urban farm with big ideas about sustainable practices. Located in a residential neighborhood on the edge of Old Town, this family farm has been operating since 2008 with a focus on renewable energy and regenerative farming. Their 25 family shares go quickly and last from June – October so learn more and reserve yours online!
Location: 40907 County Road 15
Blue Barrel Farm was started in 2010 by Pam Erthal with the goal to grow seasonal produce for local families. The small farm grows vegetables, fruits and herbs using organic methods with no herbicides, no pesticides and regular crop rotation. Share prices include delivery to homes and businesses inside Fort Collins. Or, pick up your box at the farm to see where it’s grown and get a reduced price!
Location: 7100 Silver Mist Lane
CSA pick-up times at the picturesque Fossil Creek Farms are on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. Though every growing season is different, a sampling of a weekly full share ($575) might include 20 tomatoes, two cantaloupes or watermelons, 10 carrots, two bunches of swiss chard, four pounds of onions, two eggplants, 15 okra, and six summer squash. For $350, you can get a half share which cuts the price and the amounts in half. Fill out your sign-up form before this year’s CSA shares are gone!
Location: 719 West Willox Lane
Garden Sweet has been providing vegetables, berries, flowers and herbs for the Fort Collins community for 15 years. Their market-style CSA allows you to pick and choose the produce you want so you can take home exactly what your family needs. And all July members receive free weekly bouquets of Pick-Your-Own Flowers!
Location: 5100 East County Road 48
Photo courtesy of Jodar Farms
Jodar Farms has one of the best CSA programs for meat and chicken products. Their poultry is raised outdoors with access to shelter so the birds get plenty of exercise and fresh air with the opportunity to feed on insects and seeds. The summer CSA offers whole roasting hens, breasts, legs and thighs, party wings, soup kits, eggs, pork sausage, and even a donation option so you can help a local family!
When you’re filling out your form, check the box for a working share if you’re interested in getting hands on with your crops this summer!
Location: 1807 West Vine Drive
Each share at Green Dog Farm is designed for a couple or a family of four as weekly supplemental produce beginning in June. By using intercropping, companion planting, the biodynamic calendar, organic fertilizers, local manure, on-site compost and Neem oil and diatomaceous earth for pest control, they’re able to offer some of the most sustainable produce in the region. Reserve your 2017 share today!
Location: 2100 West County Road 54G
Native Hill is a small, local vegetable farm located just a short bike ride from Old Town. Their CSA program is one of the most versatile, offering small, medium and large shares. With purchase of each, your account balance starts at $300, $400 or $500 respectively and you use that amount at the bi-weekly market. Shop until your account balance is out and add more to it at any time!
If you add the Farm Stand addition at just $1 more each week, you can shop any day at the on-site farm stand!
Location: 3611 Richmond Drive
Photo courtesy of On the Vine at Richmond Farms
From May – November, On the Vine at Richmond Farms offers a summer CSA which allows members to shop the market six days a week, purchasing exactly what you need and want. Though anyone can purchase produce at the farm throughout the season, CSA members get a 10% discount!
Share your favorite gardens and Fort Collins CSA farms with us!