Reaching through the window of the battered and rusty ’93 Ford pickup, I pulled the handle so I could get out. The truck, like Eric the driver, was battered and showing signs of age. Not only was the door handle missing on the inside, so was the window crank, the radio, the gear shift knob and a few other items that didn’t have to be around for the truck to rattle and roll down the gravel roads around Canon City.
Sliding onto the dusty road, I grabbed my gear bag with one hand while I shook hands with Eric and thanked him for the ride down from Colorado Springs. Grinning, he showed 31 white teeth and a gold one. Sticking one hand out of the window, he waved goodbye as he left a cloud of dust behind him.
As the dust settled around me, I picked up the gear bag, lit a cigarette and looked around. I was standing on the country road just outside the gate of Family Roots Farm (aka Javernick Family Farms) at the base of the Rocky Mountains at the edge of Canon City. Knowing that I was going to have time to squeeze in a story or two between the White River in Arkansas and the Arkansas River in Colorado, I contacted Beki and Bruce Guion, owners of Family Roots. Despite the fact that my sole experience in farming consisted of watching “Green Acres” on television in the ‘60s, they agreed to let me come, stay awhile, take some photos and write a few stories.
Cañon City was laid out in1858 during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush, and then left idle. A new company “jumped the claim” to the town’s site in late 1859 and it put up the first building in February 1860. This town was originally intended as a commercial center for mining in South Park and the upper Arkansas River. Today, Canon City straddles the Arkansas River and is visited by people who want first class outdoor recreation in whitewater rafting and rock climbing as well as sightseeing.
Located at the western edge of town, Family Roots Farm is a peaceful 60 acres that has the Greenhorn and Sangre de Cristo Mountains as a backdrop. The farm is a 4th generation farm that grows produce and raises cattle.
While much of the harvest goes to customers in the local community and into a co-op that sells to larger customers including Broadmoor Hotel and Resort in Colorado Springs, a lot is also wholesaled through Arkansas Valley Growers and CCFA Farmers Market.
Only Certified Naturally Grown produce, open pollinated seeds and grass-fed beef are for sale. Many vegetable and berry crops as well as spring and fall greens are grown in the greenhouse. The fields have a 900 plant red, gold and black raspberry project installed in addition to many annual crops in the summer.
The farm is also an active participant in Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) or WWOOFING. WWOOFing exists to provide volunteers with first-hand experience in organic and other sound growing methods. The goal is to let volunteers gain skills in a rural setting and have opportunities to learn in exchange for assistance with farming or gardening chores. In a classic “win-win” situation, Beki and Bruce provide food and accommodation and the “wwoofer” provides the labor.
For more information about Family Roots Farm, purchase produce or to arrange a WWOOFing opportunity, visit their website.
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