Colorado Locavore Overview
There are plenty of seasonal Locavore opportunities to find exactly the fruit, vegetables, beef, lamb, poultry, wine or dairy products that you may be looking for. The 2007 USDA Farm Census reported that Colorado had approximately 37,054 farms and the average number of acres per farm was 853. Of those farms, 708 showed that they raised vegetables for sale, there were 877 orchards, 347 organic farms and 214 CSAs in the state.
Our database currently includes listings in Colorado for more than 380 CSAs, Farmers Markets, Wineries, and grower/producers located in 53 counties across the state.
Synopsis of 2007 USDA Ag census for Colorado
|Farms with Vegetables harvested for sale||Weld||Rio Grande||Mesa||Delta||Boulder|
|Number of Orchards||Mesa||Delta||Montezuma||Fremont||Montrose|
|Blackberries and Dewberries||Fremont||Mesa||Delta||El Paso||Montezuma|
|Poultry and egg production||Weld||Larimer||El Paso||Mesa||Fremont|
|Dairy cattle and milk production||Weld||Morgan||Larimer||Delta||El Paso|
|Beef and Cattle ranches||Weld||Elbert||El Paso||Mesa||Larimer|
|Aquaculture or other animal production||Weld||El Paso||Larimer||Douglas||Elbert|
|Farms that collect Honey||Larimer||Weld||Fremont||Boulder||-|
For more specific detail on what local fruits and vegetables are available (and when), please check out our Colorado availability guide.
Commercial Growing Regions in Colorado
The majority of Colorado's orchard production is located in Delta, Mesa and Montrose counties. The fruit season on the Western Slope begins in mid-June when cherries are harvested and runs through late fall with apples. Colorado's apple production is centered on the state's Western Slope with major varieties including Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Gala, Fuji and Rome. Colorado Goldens are noted for their prominent red blush color. Colorado's cantaloupe and watermelon production is centered in the Arkansas Valley around Rocky Ford, a name that is synonymous with outstanding flavored cantaloupe.
Many Colorado growers are now turning to wine grape production. Colorado has two American Viticultural Areas (distinct growing regions recognized by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco). The Grand Valley (between Grand Junction and Palisade) produces a majority of the state's wine grapes, specializing in Bordeaux and Rhone varietals, while the West Elks area, around Hotchkiss and Paonia, offers Riesling and other Alsace varietals. The number of licensed wineries in Colorado has grown proportionately faster than any other state or province in North America over the past decade. The Colorado Mountain Wine Fest in Palisade celebrates the state's grape harvest the third weekend of every September.
Growing and Planting seasons
Colorado's climate offers a great environment for growing fruit and vegetables. The typical planting schedule is from April through May, with harvest beginning in May and continuing through October. With more than 300 days of sun, Colorado provides an ideal growing environment for greenhouse or backyard vegetable gardens and fruit trees.
Take a look at our "How Long until Harvest" chart to determine which annual crops are the best candidates for gardening during the Colorado growing seasons. The growing season in Colorado ranges from 120 to 200 days on the plains, and (except for some small areas) the mountains have a frost-free period that is generally less than 80 days.
Unfortunately for gardeners in the mountains, a growing season of only 80 days is too short for most crops unless a cold-frame or greenhouse is used for starting the seedlings. To find the USDA Growing zone for your specific ZipCode, check out - What's My Growing Zone?
How to find Colorado Growers and producers
To search our database for growers, producers and wineries near you, use one of these three methods:
1. Go to the Proximity search page . Enter the Zip code that you want to use as the basis for your search, enter the number of miles around the Zip code, click or unclick the business types you want to search for, then click the "Search' button. When the results appear, if you want more information about a specific business, you can click on the map marker and then the farm or business name within the information box.
If you would rather not enter a Zip code, you can enter a City and State name or a County and State name.
2. To see all of the Profiles within a specific State, go to the menu selection entitled "State Information" in the blue menu section at the top of the page. Scroll to your State name and as you move through the State names, you will see two menu choices appear to the right of your cursor. Click on the one that includes the words "Growers and Producers". When the list shows on your screen, you may sort by County name (click on the word "County"). If you are looking for a specific product such as Peaches or Beef or Honey, simply enter your search term in the appropriate box. For the Colorado Grower list, click on this link: Colorado Grower list .
3. Using the search box in the upper right hand corner of the screen, just enter the terms you wish to search for..there is no need to include a coma. As an example, if you want to find Peach growers in Colorado, just type in the words Peaches Colorado and click on the Search button. There is no need to enter connecting words such as "and" or "in".
Additional Locavore information
- Every state has a Cooperative Extension System. Regional offices offer location specific advice on a broad array of topics, including gardening and may be able to provide you with contact information for growers who are not yet registered on our site. Most have gardening hotlines and offer informational fact sheets, soil testing and pest identification for free or a nominal cost. Often the help is provided by Master Gardeners who are trained to assist the agriculture agents with home gardener's needs. To find contact information for your local County Extension Office – Colorado County Extension Offices
- If you would like to ask questions of fellow Colorado Locavores, discuss tips, share recipes, stories, pictures or any another great “Slow Food” discovery, please post it in our Colorado forum by clicking here: Colorado Locavore Forum
- State sponsored “Locally Grown” program - Colorado Proud
- Colorado County Fair Schedules – This link provides schedules for County Fairs within Colorado as well as many other local festivals – Colorado Events