Northern Colorado farmers determined to stay in business – The Denver Post

By Jacob Laxen, The Coloradoan

FORT COLLINS — As farmers toil with crops, chickens and hogs at Raisin Roots Farm, cars whiz by at the nearby intersection of Vine Drive and North Taft Hill Road.

A housing development borders the Fort Collins property, with eight fenced-in backyards directly facing the farm. The 3-acre space could likely fetch a hefty payday from a housing developer, but landowner Dennis Vanderheiden is committed to keeping it urban agriculture.

“It is a little oasis here in the middle of town,” said Vanderheiden, whose family has owned the property since 2009.

While the number of Larimer County farms has dwindled in the past decade — often giving way to housing developments — a core of dedicated farmers is driven to be part of the local food scene.

After Grant Farms CSA shuttered operations in December and declared bankruptcy in April, there are still about 20 current northern Colorado farms selling directly to the public. Most set up at eight weekly farmers markets scattered throughout Fort Collins, Loveland, Windsor and Wellington. A new monthly Sunday farmers market in Timnath is scheduled to debut in June.

Only about 4 percent of all food spending by Colorado residents was at Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs and farmers markets, a 2016 study conducted by Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado State University found.

Still, many local farmers are willing to put in long hours to make thin profit margins. And a number of area farmers say when executed correctly, the hard work yields a comfortable living.

“To a lot of folks, farming is a calling,” said Kevin Cody, the executive director for the Northern Colorado Food Cluster. “Anyone who chooses farming as a vocation and livelihood needs a kind of passion and commitment that you don’t necessarily find in other occupations.”

The passion for farming comes in various forms.

Raisin Roots head farmer Ben Pfeffer discovered his while completing an undergrad thesis about urban farming while at Towson University.

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