Published on : Friday, August 1, 2014
The mountains, forests, fields and farms are calling. Do you know the satisfaction, the unmatched freshness of recently harvested produce, the reward of rolling up your sleeves and rooting around in the dirt,
the unique sense of accomplishment? Actively participating in collecting your food, when done the Colorado way, doesn’t feel like work at all. In the Centennial State, being involved means scouring the majestic mountains on foot in search of an elk or mule deer, rolling up your pants and wading into a mountain stream, or luring a trophy trout to your line. It means meandering through a farmers’ market, meticulously picking your perfect produce before making it into jam; it’s wandering into the woods, basket and binoculars in hand, harvesting mushrooms and wild asparagus while spying on wildlife. Whatever your forte, your tool, your backdrop or your desired bounty, fall in Colorado is ripe and ready to fill your larders, pantries and plates.
Gather and Harvest….
Play farmer for a day at Miller Farms in Platteville
During Miller Farms Fall Harvest Festival, which runs from Labor Day through mid-November, take your family out for some authentic, in-the-dirt farm fun. Hop on an antique tractor that makes regular stops so that you can pick your own vegetable feast as it takes you on a tour of this family-farm that has been in operation since 1949. Choose a variety of potatoes, carrots, onions, beets, Indian corn, squash and peppers to take home and feast for days on food you foraged for yourself. Before or after enjoy other farm offerings like the petting zoo, peddle tractors and hay pyramid.
Chili roasting, wagon wheeling and a little history at Tigges Farm in Greeley
Grab a wagon and head to the pumpkin patch to pick your perfect gourd! This farm has been run by the same family since 1935 and exudes a unique and precious love for the land. From August – October check out the outdoor Tigges Farm Equipment museum, which showcases some of the original equipment used to till the land. From mid-September to mid-October, enjoy prime chile roasting season.
Pitch your tent and pick a pear at the Delicious Orchard in Hotchkiss
With a focus on sustainable agriculture and land stewardship, this family-run farm is also the home of Big B’s Juices (organic and local apple juices and ciders). Aside from offering up delicious meals at the on-site café and camping in the orchard that is set to a scenic mountain backdrop, you’re invited to handpick seasonal organic cherries, pears, peaches and apples from their bountiful orchards.
Learn. Forage. Enjoy… Hunt & Gather Foods
On an outdoor excursion led by the knowledgeable guides at Hunt & Gather, you’ll learn to identify and use a variety of wild mushrooms and plants. Choose a walk through town or opt for a more challenging hike through the mountains – either way absorbing the flora of the ecosystem. Private catering and cooking classes based on the wild ingredients you foraged bring the process full circle.
Savor an urban hunt for the bounty of Boulder
…for food, of course. Boulder has a plethora of options for foraging in a city setting. Stop in for a foraging workshop with Wendy “Butter” Petty, creator of the popular blog “Hunger and Thirst.” From June through November, Wendy hosts hands-on foraging workshops complete with instruction on processing and cooking your wild bounty.
The event is hosted by the Center for Integrative Botanical Studies, a Boulder-based education center providing integrative hands-on educational programs on herbalism, wild foods, ethno botany, sustainable living and holistic health. Top off Wendy’s workshop with a tour of the center. And, if you’re in the “do it yourself” mode, check out this CU student map of urban foraging cites.
Dandelions, Pétanque, wild wines and a cozy stay:
Aside from introducing you to recipes and techniques that deepen your appreciation for wine DNA, Yvon and Joanna of Leroux Creek Inn invite you for a dandelion hunt, relaxing stay, and a game of Petanque (much like bocce). Head out to Western Colorado’s North Fork Valley and learn and hunt 54 acres surrounded by vineyards, canyons, mesas and the West Elk Mountains.
Join the wild food hunt at Turtle Lake Refuge in Durango:
The options for foraging wild foods are endless at Turtle Lake Refuge. If the harvest itself isn’t of interest but you have a craving for wild edibles, pick up one of the pre-harvested wild food goodie bags and get creative with what’s inside. If it’s the experience you’re after, join Katrina on a private foraging class and hike or check the schedule for an alive and wild class (complete with a wild food dinner).
Beginning in early September, take part in the Local Wild Living program complete with classes on wild edibles and medicinal plants, permaculture and holistic health. Overnight outings are part of this program, adding a unique adventure component to your food collecting experience.
Wild Edible Plant Workshops at Earth’s Green Gifts:
In Colorado Springs, Tamara Geene offers tailored wild edible plant workshops. So, whether you’re traveling solo, with your family, friends or colleagues, schedule a workshop that fits your interests, skills, passions and availability.
Hands-on-participation is encouraged, and each workshop offers exploration of ethical harvesting, identification and poisonous look-a-likes, nutritional and healthful properties of wild edibles, and some processing and preparation for what to do with the freshly harvested bounty splayed out on your kitchen counter.
On September 27, head over to the Fountain Creek Nature Center in nearby Fountain, Colorado for Earth’s Green Gifts course on edible berries, seeds, and nuts. Take part in the indoor presentation, a plant identification walk, and a seed and acorn preparation demonstration.
Tip: A favorite recipe from Chef Mark Fischer, Phat Thai, features fresh forest bounty. Wild mushroom and asparagus gnocchi made with freshly harvested ingredients celebrate Colorado flavors. For the meat eaters among us, elk is a delicious addition to this otherwise vegetarian feast.