Motherlove's organic farm is "a dream come true"
September 19, 2013
You may remember that back in April Motherlove announced that we are now the proud operators of a 120 acre organic farm near our offices in Colorado.
Our Legacy Organic Farm will supply us with local, sustainable, certified organic herbs for Motherlove as well as grow traditional organic grains and vegetables. It’s a dream come true for us, connecting us with our roots as a company.
We’re happy to share more details about the farm and our plans for it, in this Q and A with Motherlove Vice-President Silencia Cox:
What’s the setting for the farm, and what does it look like?
The farm is located along the front range for the Rocky Mountains in Northern Colorado, just east of the town of Loveland. It’s about 25 miles south of where Motherlove offices are located in Laporte. The elevation is about 5,500 feet, set in rolling hills in the Colorado high prairie with an incredible view of the Rocky Mountains. Longs Peak dominates the view directly to the west with stunning views of the Mummy Range just to the north. The big Thompson River flows through the southern portion of the property. In fact, all of the snow melt between the southern side of Hagues Peak (13,560 feet) in the Mummy range and the Northern face of Longs Peak (14,259 feet) flows into this river and passes through the farm.
What’s the history of the farm?
We are currently leasing the land. The Farm was originally the Henry Ulrich, or Lazy U farm. This 120 portion was one of several plots that were owned by several family members. Each of the other pieces of land have been sold off, but this piece remains. 120 acres was a typical family farm size. It has been a family farm for generations. The owners, Barbara Caulkins and her daughter Dana Burns, are committed to keeping it a functioning organic farm and refusing to sell to developers in the area. If you live on the Front Range, you know how much development is occurring. Centerra, a huge shopping complex is only a few miles from the farm. We are so inspired by Barbara and Dana’s desire to maintain an operating organic farm. It really is an honor to work with them.
We hired a farm manager, RJ Ottaviano, who has been a family friend for years and was the one who actually found the farm. R.J. has been involved in sustainable agriculture since 2003. He has a B.S. in International Agricultural Development from the University of California, Davis. His background includes a broad range of operations, including orchard management, vegetable, livestock, seed crop, and row crop production. R.J. was working in the Crop and Soil Research Program at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute when he accepted the position with Motherlove. It has been a perfect fit for everyone. We have several other part time employees who spend their days helping on the farm. Aimee Pursley is our herb specialist, and she is currently conducting research on the herbs we will be growing in the future.
What are you raising now, and where is it sold?
This is our first year with the farm, we are still getting to know the land, soil and water. We wanted to maintain the organic certification on the farm and stay on top of weed control, so many of our crops are cover crops for grain and hay. We have triticale which was used for hay, with a portion of the crop harvested for grain. There are fields of alfalfa and grass which has already gone through its first cutting and is about ready for a second. There is a field with a mixture of sorghum seed, cow peas, and sun hemp which was just cut and is waiting to be bailed. And of course we have corn.
We have a few animals at the farm. Currently we have pigs and chickens. The sheep will be arriving in the fall. We plan on incorporating more animals into the farm in the upcoming years.
You plan to raise some of the herbs used in Motherlove products at your farm. Can you tell us more about what you’re planning to raise?
We currently have a test plots of herbs going to see what we can grow at this elevation and with low water use. Herbs are a high value crops because they must be hand weeded and hand harvested, so we want to be sure we plant only what will do well in Colorado. So far the plan for next year is to grow calendula (which is in almost every one of our body care products), yarrow, and blessed thistle. All of the herbs are low-water and Colorado natives that thrive in our soil.
The long term goal of the farm is to become an herb education facility. We plan on establishing large perennial herb gardens to use for plant identification classes.
What can you tell us about the educational programs you’re planning to offer?
In our classes we would like to teach both medicinal and edible uses for herbs. Identification classes will be held often for all age ranges. We would like to have field days were we gather herbs and teach people to make them into salves, balms, and tinctures. We will host an edible field day to identify “weeds” that have every day uses. Many of the plants we will use are common weeds so it will be a way to help everyone look at the plants in their yards little differently.
We would like to collaborate with other local businesses to hold farm-to-table dinners and beer paring events. The community in Northern Colorado has so much to offer when it comes to good food and drink, and we would love to help highlight other local brands and businesses. Organic and sustainability are core practices for us at Motherlove and on the farm. We plan on hosting sustainability workshops in the future as well.
What’s your favorite thing about being at the farm?
It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to be on a farm. To be a part of the land and see food production is something many of us never have a chance to do. In this highly processed and disconnected society, it is amazing to have a chance to reconnect to something that is real. When I am out there under the Colorado sun walking through the fields with a pack of dogs, it is like heaven to me. Watching a seed be put in the ground in the spring time, and then by late summer there is a plant that towers over your head - the transformation and change is amazing and I am so blessed to just be a witness to it. This really is a dream come true.