THE HISTORY OF YUCCA RIDGE FARM AND www.THEGARLICSTORE.com
(a somewhat tongue in cheek rendition of the events)
Once upon a time a guy from Brooklyn and a gal from Norway met and eventually did the nuptial thing. After getting restless living in the big city back in the 1980s, they decided Horace Greeley had the right idea-go west.....
So we did, but overshot Greeley, Colorado, by about 30 miles and landed on a ranch near the Weld-Larimer county line. The residents of Fort Collins, our nearest neighbors, think that we are almost in Nebraska. But we are ensconced on a ridge, the lip of the prairie looking down on the Poudre Valley to the west with a spectacular view of the Front Range. On a clear day (read, no Brown Cloud) we can see from Pike's Peak up into Wyoming. To the east, a sea of grass stretches for hundreds of miles
The sunrises and sunsets are to die for, and we may also be the rainbow capital of the U.S. If you ever read Michener's Centennial, you will know the story of our back yard.The ridge we settled on is densely dotted with yucca plants. So we thought all we needed to do was grow something and we would have Yucca Ridge Farm. We could grow cows like our neighbors do. But year round grazing is not good for the fragile grassland ecosystem which supports, with less than 12 inches of rain a year, an astonishing variety of plant and animal life.
The hawks and golden eagles that soar over the ridge looking for lunch or ride on the wind just for the pure joy of it, is a sight worth saving for future generations. The land is too hilly for wheat, and that doesn't fit in with sustainable agriculture anyway. We wanted something that would grow on only a small fraction of the land, survive frequent wind storms, not be bothered by the hail which often pelts the region - something which would tolerate Colorado's crazy weather. (The state has all four seasons, often by noon.) And we wanted our crop to be something that was good for you. This all lead to garlic. An amazing plant. An amazing food.
Our first "crop" was a few test cloves planted in 1991. They actually grew! Emboldened by such horticultural prowess, and unencumbered by any knowledge of the difficulties inherent in the adventure on which we were about to embark, the Yucca Ridge Garlic Farm idea sprouted to life.
Over the last twelve years, we have learned many things about growing garlic in such a challenging landscape and climate. We have tested dozens of varieties, and found which ones thrive on the High Plains. We have experimented with using the entire plant (everything but the squeal, to mix a metaphor). The cloves can be roasted, baked, sauteed, sliced, crushed, chopped, pressed, pickled and made companion to a myriad of culinary adventures. The immature plants provide delicious spring baby garlic. The flowering scapes are both edible and decorative. The stalks and dried leaves can be converted to paper (something we have not yet done).
The garlic market is booming. We enjoy providing garlic and garlic products to satisfied customers, such as fine restaurants and Front Range natural food stores. Since Yucca Ridge is located in East Nowhere, Colorado (at the end of some long dirt roads), and since we don't want to open a storefront and further contribute to the malling of America, the Web was the obvious place to be. Thus, in 1997, we launched www.TheGarlicStore.com with the newspaper articles claiming "this site stinks!" Thank you very much. In 2006, things grew so large our packing and shipping facility moved into the "big city" of Ft. Collins, but our roots remain on the original farm.
We are Colorado Department of Agriculture Certified Organic handlers. We believe in the small family farm and the stewardship to the land, saving as much as possible for the native species of plants and animals. Peaceful coexistence with the flora and the fauna on the 98% of the land we don't farm or inhabit is important to us. The ability to share our products and those from other fine vendors through the "electronic commerce" of the Internet helps us find fellow garlic afficionados and make friends around this vast county while cutting down on vehicle miles traveled (to use an air quality management term).
We hope you will enjoy your visit to www.TheGarlicStore.com. Think of us as a virtual vegetable stand. And we would love to hear from you. Feedback through our e-mail is encouraged. We want to be continuously improving our site. We welcome information, stories and opinions.Your input is important.
The staff of www.TheGarlicStore.com
Craig and Debi (the young ones with all the energy)
Liv and Walt (the resident older humans)
Tom and Bob (super-geek software gurus)
Turkey pets#1, #2, #3 and #4 (organic insect control)
assorted coyotes, ground squirrels, prairie dogs, oodles of snakes, two badgers, big fat toads - horned and regular, kestrels, ferruginous hawks, chukars, golden eagles, prairie cone flowers, blooming yucca plants, barrel-head cacti, asters, buffalo grass, blue grama, and Russian thistle (which you can keep)