In this hip college town and techy hotspot, you might not expect that there are about 20,000 acres of farmland. But Boulder’s agricultural roots remain strong. In fact, Boulder County boasts more than 850 farms.
What does this mean for visitors? Tons of fresh produce, chances to learn about the rural side of life and another excuse to hang out under the beautiful Colorado skies.
Farm-to-table food in Boulder is a given. Many, if not most, local restaurants plan their menus around seasonal growth and weave local produce and animals into their plates. Some of Boulder’s best restaurants (Black Cat, Blackbelly, Leaf) even have their own farms.
But there are many ways to experience local farms, besides the local cuisine. Here are 11 other ways you can explore the taste of rural Boulder County.
Many of Boulder County’s farms can be accessed via scenic bike routes. Boulder Bike Tours offers weekly guided bike tours to local farms. You’ll learn about organic farming and more, and have a “harvest-fresh” meal to refuel you for the ride back. In 2017, tours were offered on Thursdays and Sundays. You can also book a private farm tour.
The Sunday tours were “brunch rides,” featuring a four-course brunch utilizing freshly-picked produce, while the Thursday rides were Sunset tours, where a wood-fired pizza dinner featuring veggies harvested that day was served.
Tours are considered easy and for all levels. If you don’t have a bike you can rent one before the ride. You can ask about using an electric bike, too.
Two fun upcoming trips: Grateful Dead Bike-to-Farm Tours on July 12 and July 15. Wear your Grateful Dead tie-dye shirt and your bike rental is free. The event also includes craft beer at the farm, which will serve a four-course brunch.
2. An Independent Farm Tour
Many farms offer tours. Some are free or super cheap. For example, Cure Organic Farm (six miles east of Boulder) offers group tours with a focus on whatever interests you. Cure grows more than 100 types of certified organic produce on 15 acres, has several honey bee hives, pigs, ducks and hens.
Cure’s Farm Tours, offered spring through fall, take one to two hours. For groups, there’s a $50 minimum charge. Set up a private tour with the Tour Form.
3. An Inclusive Tour
Local Table Tours offers a Boulder Farmers Market Tour during the Wednesday and Saturday markets. A guide will walk you through the market, point out highlights, “the best stands” and teach you about the market on this “guided shopping excursion.” It’s offered May through October for $35 per person.
4. Boulder County Farm Trail
Another fun way to check out local farms is via the Boulder Convention and Visitors Bureau’s Boulder County Farm Trail. See the brochure to identify which farms offer tours, workshops, farm stands and more. The trail is the scenic drive that will bring you past multiple farms. The drive takes an hour to two and a half, depending on how much you stop.
5. Hang Out With Goats
The Mountain Flower Dairy is open to the public 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays May 5-June 30, and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. the first Saturday of the month July-October. It’s free to visit, although donations are accepted.
During your goat visit, you may be able to pet them, walk one on a leash, feed them, watch them being milked, taste their milk, take a tour, go on a nature walk and more.
There are also separate goat yoga classes and lunchtime bottle feedings of the babies.
6. “Top Chef” Tours
The Colorado Field Guide offers a “Top Chef” inspired tour. The Boulder portion of the tour includes a stop by the Black Cat Farm, Rayback Collective food park, Frasca Food & Wine, Avery Brewing Co., St Julien Hotel and Santo.
7. Farm Dinners
Many farms around Boulder offer farm-fresh dinners. Meadowlark Farms offers a long list of dinners at farms throughout Boulder County. Dinners are $125 per ticket.
Or check offerings directly at a specific farm, like Lone Hawk Farms. This farm has a farm-to-table dinner series, where menus are designed around the day’s harvest.
8. Volunteer at a Farm
Many farms accept volunteers, which can be a fun way to get your hands dirty and expand your knowledge. Check out the volunteer options at Oxford Gardens. Bonus: Volunteers leave with plenty of produce for their hard work.
9. A Different Spin on the Farmers Market
Here’s an only-in-Boulder offering. The Boulder Public Library downtown has an on-site restaurant called Seeds Library Cafe. This restaurant uses food from the Boulder Farmers Market. Plus, it has an amazing view overlooking the Boulder Creek.
10. Take a Class
A fun way to incorporate food and farm is through a class. Check out the cheese-making classes at the Mountain Flower Goat Dairy, or the Field To Jar fermenting class at Cure Organic Farm, presented in cooperation with Hatch Lab.
11. Pick Your Own Produce
Another entertaining way to get a fresh snack is by picking it yourself. The Hoot n’ Howl Farm has a berry-picking offering that’s fun for families. The Ya Ya Farm and Orchard offers a pick-your-own produce program, too. It’s just $3 a person to get in and $12 to get a bag. Then, based on what’s in season, pick your own apples, pears, cherries, pumpkins, veggies and flowers.