As soon as we arrived at Country Roots Farm in Pueblo, CO, I knew this was going to be an interesting visit. Lying around were so many creative gadgets and yard decorations made from repurposed materials that I half expected Doc from Back to the Future to appear in Carhartts wielding a pitchfork. Beth Gentry, general manager at Colorado College, had invited me to go on some farm visits with her team, and the next few hours with farmer Ryan Morris exceeded my wildest expectations.
Ryan didn’t own a time-traveling car, but he did have an old school bus he had converted into a natural refrigerator, burying the bus in the ground to serve as a root cellar for his produce. He reminisced about the experience of digging the hole, how he’d finally gathered the courage to back the bus up into it, only to realize that his measurements were off by a couple inches and the bus was stuck halfway in the hole. He fixed it, and it worked great: Randy Kruse (the College’s director of operation for dining) and Angelina Rice (director of catering) shivered in the 38-degree dungeon.
Other impressive exhibits of Ryan’s resourcefulness abounded: The springs from an old mattress pad converted into a wine bottle holder; a wall built using clay, straw, and his neighbor’s trash; and a potato washer that looked like a giant version of the contraption used to mix up the bingo balls. His interest in sustainable building stems from his hope to one day live completely off the grid, he said, constructing his own house and growing all of the food for his family. Country Roots Farm is Certified Naturally Grown, which some farmers like as an alternative to certified organic. So Ryan doesn’t use any synthetic chemicals, and in the event that an animal does get sick he’ll treat it using homeopathy.
What does he grow? “Pretty much everything” is the answer — and a walk around the farm confirmed it. Among the products he supplies to Colorado College are seasonal squash, heirloom tomatoes, and assorted greens and melons. He also had goats, and around 300 chickens, who weren’t the least bit bothered by his giant-headed bull mastiff Tuva.
I’m so excited and proud that Bon Appétit is able to support amazingly creative farmers such as Ryan Morris through our Farm to Fork program. And who knows, maybe in a year or two he’ll have converted another school bus into a time machine that runs on chicken manure.