Above: Ryan and Heidi Dart with their son. Below: A greenhouse at Dart Farms. Photos by Abby Mortenson of Love Roots Photography.
PVREA’s service territory in Northern Colorado is full of hidden gems. One of which is a ten-acre farm located in Berthoud, Colorado – Dart Farms.
Ryan Dart, owner of Dart Farms, was born in Colorado, raised in Arkansas, and then moved back to Boulder twenty years ago. It was there he met his (now) wife, Heidi, who had moved to Boulder from Peoria, Illinois.
“I grew up in the country on a small farm where we grew a little bit of everything. We were getting ready to have a baby and looking for the next chapter in our lives. I wanted to live outside of a city and give my son the opportunity to have room to run around,” Ryan said.
From Heidi and Ryan’s shared love for nature and agriculture, Dart Farms came to be. In 2013, Ryan and Heidi bought the land in Berthoud for their farm and planted one orchard. They moved on to the farm in 2014 and planted their second orchard. Since then, it has continued to grow every year.
Heidi explained that the mission for the farm is to grow clean, nutrient rich, quality food for themselves and those in the community, “We are stewards of the land and being part of that enhances quality of life.”
This year the orchard had apples, peaches, cherries and plums, nectarines, apricots and more. A variety of berries such as raspberries, strawberries and blueberries were another exciting addition to the last growing season. The vegetables grown consists of carrots, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, beets, spinach, kale, and herbs. Heidi has specifically been working on growing flowers as a special commodity. On top of growing produce, they raise pigs and free-range chickens that eat organic feed and their hens lay fresh eggs every day.
They shape their farm to work with nature instead of against it by farming organically. They bring in helpful bugs to diversify the ecosystem and keep bugs that are harmful to their plants under control. Overall, Heidi and Ryan have a permaculture approach for their farm. They want long term sustainability and balance so everything they grow thrives.
“We’re really proud of the quality of our products from the flavor, to the color, to the nutrition content,” Ryan said.
Last season, Dart Farms modeled their business as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) system where shareholders financially supported the farm and in turn got first pick from the gardens. The rest of the food was sold every Saturday during the season at the farm stand, farmers markets, and even to local restaurants in the surrounding areas, such as The Fork in Boulder.
Their goal is to have people come to the farm for food rather than traveling around.
“We want to give people a chance to get a glimpse of the farm themselves, to keep old methods and ideas of farming alive,” Ryan said, “If you contact us in the spring before the season starts, we can even custom grow items for you.”
There is one other full-time employee at the farm and a few volunteers who come to the farm to work and learn about the land and are then compensated with fresh food. They are even exploring ideas with agriculture programs at colleges in the area to provide internships.
On top of providing fresh food for this area, Dart Farms is home to Heidi’s personal business, Colorado Farm Therapy. She received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminology at Marquette University in Wisconsin and later on earned her master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at Denver University. She is also a Level 2 EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) Provider.
Heidi uses horses, dogs, barn cats and even ducks and geese to counsel, educate and increase personal growth for people of all ages. She specializes in childhood trauma, bullying, self-identity development, self-esteem, dysfunctional relationships, grief and loss, and anxiety and depression.
She said, “I always had a love for nature and animals. I knew living on land with space and surrounded by nature and animals was good for family and through my graduate studies I saw the power of what it can really do for people.”
She doesn’t determine which animal will be used for her client ahead of time, it’s all based on what animal the client naturally relates to and vice versa. She explained that animals are more in tune than humans to certain feelings and emotions because it is part of their animal instinct to survive.
“There is wisdom in nature and a big part of my work is to reconnect my clients to that so they can learn and benefit from it,” she said.
By working with animals, her clients become more aware of their behaviors and body language.
“It takes time to learn and requires you to pay attention in the moment and watch very carefully to all that is going on around you,” Heidi explained.
Heidi is accepting new clients and her information can be found at www.coloradofarmtherapy.com. Information about Dart Farms can be found at www.dartfarms.com.