Although it was gold that drew early settlers to Boulder, and coal mining that brought them to Louisville and Lafayette, it was Boulder County’s vast agricultural opportunities that kept them here. Today, Boulder County is home to more than 850 farms, many of which offer tours, classes, farmstands, farm-to-table dinners and other special events. And it's only about a 35-minute drive from Denver, making for a perfect day trip.
The Boulder County Farm Trail brochure features information about a number of farms that welcome visitors or hold special events on a regular basis, but to get you started, here are some of our favorite ways to explore the county's most authentic farm-themed experiences as you celebrate the bounty and become a true "agritourist."
Experience the History
The Agricultural Heritage Center, a rural site on the northern edge of Longmont, offers visitors a glimpse of what farming life was like in the early 1900s, with a restored farmhouse, two barns, live animals on-site (April-Oct.), a blacksmith shop and interactive exhibits. Special events feature costumed guides and live demonstrations. Free; check seasonal hours online.
Entertain the Family
At YA YA Farm & Orchard, visitors can pick their own cherries, apples or pears, depending on the season. The farm also hosts and Apple Fest celebration around mid-October, BooFest around Halloween, gourd-painting classes and a workshop to learn how to make hard cider.
Pumpkin patches also flourish in the fall; don't miss the hayrides, corn mazes and other family-friendly activities at Cottonwood Farms, Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch, Rock Creek Farm or Munson Farms.
Sunflower Farm hosts public hours on weekends that include horse/pony rides (seasonal), a zipline, tree houses, free-range chickens, tire swings, and animal-feeding events. In the winter, you can toast marshmallows over the bonfire or steer a sled down the snowy hill.
Learn Something New
Growing Gardens, Three Leaf Farm, Lyons Farmette, Cure Organic Farm, Mountain Flower Goat Dairy and many others offer classes on a variety of topics like beekeeping, flower arranging, pickling and fermenting, soap making, and cooking with fresh veggies and herbs. The Art of Cheese in Longmont has year-round cheesemaking classes, and many are held at Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy, where you can also take a tour of the creamery and taste Haystack's own goat cheeses.
Take a Tour
Use the Farm Trail brochure to map out a driving route of farms, or better yet, let the professionals at Boulder Bike Tours guide you on two wheels with twice-weekly tours of organic farms. The Thursday Sunset Tour ends with a wood-fired pizza dinner featuring veggies harvested that day, and the Sunday Brunch Tour features a four-course farm-to-table brunch. The tour schedule follows the farmers' harvest season, about June 1 through the end of November, weather permitting.
Help the Community
Small, family-owned farms rely on generous volunteers to help with rewarding (and educational) tasks like planting, seeding, harvesting, maintenance and animal care, and there's never a commitment. If you're willing to get your hands dirty for a worthy cause, check with Isabelle Farm, Cure Organic Farm, 63rd St. Farm or Father Earth Organic Farm, just to name a few.
Savor the Bounty
Boulder County's Farms make it easy for you to get your hands on their farm-fresh goodies! The Boulder and Longmont Farmers Markets are open on Saturdays until early November, and there's also a Winter Market in early December each year, featuring more than 100 Colorado vendors selling fresh produce, specialty meats, eggs, baked goods, crafts and gifts. Lafayette, Louisville and Erie also host weekly markets during the summer and early fall.
There are too many farmstands and farm-to-table dinners each season to list here, but check with individual farms on the Boulder County Farm Trail for a schedule of events and farmstand hours.
More to Explore
After a hard day on the farm, have a beer at Avery Brewing Company with its dog-friendly patio or cider at Acreage Cider House and Eatery, surrounded by 8 acres of farmland.
If your children would like to learn more about working the land, WOW! Children’s Museum has an outdoor raised garden bed maintained by Ollin Farms. Each spring through fall, farm staff teaches museum visitors how to grow organic vegetables.
Photo credits: The Agricultural Heritage Center, courtesy Boulder County Parks & Open Space; and Boulder Bike Tours.