The roots of the farming and ranching history in the Roaring Fork Valley run deep, and in the past decade there has been a regeneration in the fields as a surge of young farmers are revamping agriculture in the valley. Roaring Fork Valley locals and visitors are reaping the benefits with a greater variety of farms setting up at the farmers markets and supplying area restaurants with fresh, locally grown products.
Free Range Kitchen in Downtown Basalt prides itself on sourcing ingredients for its dishes from local farmers and ranchers. Farms all have direct contact with customers through community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs, where buyers sign up prior to the growing season and in return for their early investment, receive a weekly box of fresh product through the summer and early fall. “It’s getting the community invested,” said Erin Cuseo, who operates Erin’s Acres on land leased from Pitkin County. Two Roots Farm, Roaring Gardens and ACES at Rock Bottom Ranch are a few of the other properties committed to local agriculture. Even a collaborative group — Roaring Fork Farmers and Ranchers — has formed to help young farmers in the area.
The valley’s re-emergence and passion for local farming was captured by Basalt native and filmmaker Haley Thompson, who in 2017 released a documentary with Tomas Zuccareno titled “How We Grow.” “Since then, we’ve been screening at events around the state, and we’re trying to get more screenings in the valley this year,” said Thompson, who has struck a distribution deal through the farming-centric company Collective Eye Media.