Saturday, July 30, 2022 | 8 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Enjoy a glimpse into the backyards of inspiring Northern Colorado homesteads during the ninth annual NoCo Urban Homestead Tour presented by Fort Collins Nursery. The Tour is a fundraising event benefiting the Gardens on Spring Creek and Loveland Youth Gardeners.
The mission of this event is to educate the public about a self-sustaining lifestyle that includes growing your own produce, raising bees and backyard animals, season extension, food preservation, re-purposing materials and much more.
This year's tour features seven local homesteads in Fort Collins, Loveland and Windsor that demonstrate how these rewarding practices can be achieved in urban backyard settings.
Three years ago, Laura and Dandelion found a silver lining in the COVID-19 shutdown. Faced with more free time than expected, they began transforming their yard into an urban farm. They removed most of the lawn from their front and back yards, built terraced and raised beds, added a greenhouse, rain barrels, compost bins and worm bins. A fence was added to protect their kale crop from their dog, Elbie. They began to grow vertically on trellises to maximize grow space and provide some afternoon shade to heat-sensitive plants. They use cold frames for season extension and have been perfecting a mostly drip irrigation system. They save seed, pickle and ferment some of their crop, share what they don’t eat, and plan to grow and sell herbs and cut flowers at a farmer’s market this year. Their motto is “We’ll figure it out eventually,” and they certainly have been!
Jim and Jen have built a great deal into their standard-sized suburban lot in the last three years. Dead aspen trees were reused to build terraced perennial beds while old deck wood was upcycled into raised vegetable beds. The homesteaders grow a variety of fruits and vegetables to feed their large family. An assortment of culinary and medicinal herbs contributes to an ever-expanding home apothecary. With the help of Mack, a Bernese Mountain Dog, and Dozey, the feline mouse control, the family tends four chickens and two beehives, and preserves their harvest by canning, freezing, dehydrating and fermenting. They also make candles, soaps, and personal care and cleaning products. A waterfall in the backyard attracts birds and butterflies and makes for a very picturesque and pleasant place to relax and enjoy this beautiful homestead.
With a passion for urban farming and permaculture, Colson has transformed his back yard into a mecca of food production. Started in his greenhouse from home-collected seed, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, greens and flowers grow abundantly in un-tilled soil with low tunnels to extend the growing season. Chickens provide compost and consume unwanted weeds from the protection of their upcycled coop (complete with green roof!) and bees help increase fruit production from their artistically painted hives. The homesteader makes CBD-infused honey and salves from homegrown hemp, brews mead and cans and dehydrates his extra produce. By growing food instead of turf, he produced about 1,000 pounds of food last season and cut his water bill in half! Inspired by years of attending the NoCo Urban Homestead Tour, this homesteader is himself an inspiration for others wanting to learn more about sustainability.
Chris and Patty have spent the last 23 years tending to a vast network of honeybee hives, producing about 100 gallons of honey annually—enough for them to eat and trade. About three years ago, the desire to know the origin of their food also inspired them to pursue homesteading. They use manure from their chickens, compost and native topsoil to grow a variety of vegetables in raised beds, as well as fruit trees and vines. Some of the honey and beeswax is used to make mead and soap. They also have a pollinator garden to help keep all those honeybees well fed and producing.
Dream big with us at Horseshoe Farms, which features a generous greenhouse, fruit orchard and so much more. Amazingly, this homestead is just three years old and already home to koi, goats, chickens, peacocks, ducks, horses and a miniature donkey. They use their large barn loft kitchen to create jams, jellies, soups, whipped honey and cheese from their own goat’s milk. AJ and Michelle moved to Colorado from Southern California in 2007 and have spent the last 15 years learning how to grow in this climate.
Nancy and Dean came to Colorado from Minnesota through Arizona and have been homesteading for the last 22 years. They started by amending the soil every year, adding raised beds and gradually becoming more sustainable. This year their soil was amended with compost, peat, leaves and llama, chicken and elk manure which nourishes their rotating vegetable gardens, perennials, grapes and flowers. Last year their garden even produced 50 loofahs! Nancy has saved her seeds for the past 12 years, and her ‘Purple Cherokee’ tomatoes are almost 10 generations. In 2016, they produced enough grapes to make wine, and every year they set up an outdoor kitchen from July to October to can from the deck. This homestead is an ever-evolving lifestyle choice that brings purpose and joy.
Richard and Susan have gardened for 50 years, primarily in New Hampshire. They focus on fresh greens and easily stored vegetables. Within weeks of moving here in April 2020, they made their first raised beds. On a small lot they have more than 300 square feet of raised beds. This is the third year with this garden. Each year they emphasize something – this year it's sweet potatoes. Last year they grew about 300 onions. Living near their grandchildren, they grow things to interest them, using an arched trellis for climbing veggies – snow peas, pole beans, and Red Noodle beans. They switched half their front yard to native flowers to attract pollinators and save water. They use two 55-gallon rain barrels and are making an old shed into a greenhouse. This garden is a healthy outdoor hobby that is fun and provides fresh food.
Nominate a Homestead!
Do you know someone who grows fruits or vegetables? Has chickens, goats, or bees? Is interested in composting or season extension? Preserves their own food? Maybe that someone is you!
Nominate yourself, your neighbor or anyone else you know to be featured on a future tour! Homesteads will need to be located in Fort Collins, Loveland or neighboring areas. Featured homesteads enjoy special perks and are critical to the success of this event
Learn more about what it takes to be a homesteader here.