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Ollin Farms opens farm to support local agriculture

Mark and Kena Guttridge want to support local agriculture by inviting local farmers to their farm.

“The idea is that through the years we realized the best way to support local agriculture is to support farmers directly,” said Kena Guttridge, co-owner of Ollin Farms. 

Mark and Kena Guttridge have served the local community for over 15 years. Not only do they grow, harvest and sell their own produce but they are pillars in the agricultural community. 

The couple strives to produce “top quality” farm products using regenerative agriculture techniques in order increase the diversity and health of the local ecosystems, their website states.

For the Guttridges, nutrient-rich food comes from taking care of the soil.

“Ultimately, it is the soil that will determine the health of everything that grows out of it, including the farm and the community,” the website states.

It is safe to say that Mark and Kena Guttridge understand what is like to take care of their roots. An idea that extends to other local farmers, many of whom the couple consider family.

“Through the years, a lot of young farmers and a lot of family farmers have closed. I think there are a lot of young farmers that are really interested in this (agriculture) and we need to help them,” Kena Guttridge said. “We need to help them succeed.”

On March 2, farmers from across the county attended a Meet the Farmers event in Niwot. 

“It felt like a big farmer reunion with lots of positive community support,” stated a post on the Ollin Farms Facebook page. 

The big announcement for the night was that Ollin Farms and the other participating farmers would begin a collaborative distribution event at Ollin Farms each Saturday. Other participants include Lazy-J Ranch, Jodar Farms, McCauley Family Farm, and Grama Grass and Livestock. 

The event launched on April 2 with a Spring Festival. Families were invited to explore Ollin Farms, enjoy the spring weather and pick up CSA orders. 

A CSA is a community-supported agricultural program where patrons financially support local farmers in exchange for produce or meat.

The collaborative distribution allows farmers to distribute their own CSA orders from one location. Farmers also are able to set up a booth to sell other products or additional produce, should they choose to do so.

Kena Guttridge said the collaborative distribution events are free for farmers. 

“We collaborate, we get together and celebrate and people get good food and get to talk with us and ask us how we’re growing our things … People can see what we are doing, why we are doing it. It is important to be open,” Kena Guttridge said. 

The Longmont Farmers Market closed in March 2020 due to pandemic restrictions. This was a mighty blow to farmers who had crops growing and in some cases almost ready to harvest, Kena Guttridge said.  

Like all industries, farmers had to pivot, having relied on the customers generated at local farmers markets to now trying to get people to visit their individual farms and connecting through technology.

“In that moment, it was everybody for themselves, independently trying to figure it out,” Kena Guttridge said.

To complicate matters, some local farmers decided not to return to the farmers market. 

In an effort to support other local farmers, who the Guttridges consider family, the couple opened up the space at their farm. Mark Guttridge said the farm is an ideal place to collaborate with other farmers because it is located near town, they have space for parking and they are already hosting their own CSA pick-up event each Saturday.

Other local farmers are responsible for setting up and taking their own CSA orders. Ollin Farm only offers space for customers to pick up their CSA and shop for additional goods the other farmers bring in. 

“Through the years, a lot of young farmers and a lot of family farmers have closed. I think there are a lot of young farmers that are really interested in this and we need to help them,” Kena Guttridge said.

“We miss hanging out with other farmers on the weekend,” Mark Guttridge added.

At the Spring Festival, several Boulder County farmers came out to share their food and visit with attendees.

Among them was Tim Brod who owns Highland Honey out of Boulder. “Mark and Kena are community-minded. They have been a real gift in the farming world and our community for a long time, because of their personhood and the products that they do and because they reach out to fools like Don and myself,” Brod said, playfully of a fellow bee keeper in the booth next to him. 

While the event debuted on April 2, Mark and Kena Guttridge plan to host a weekly CSA share event each Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Ollin Farm, located at 8627 N. 95th St. in Longmont.