North Forty News
From mass production to specialty organic foods, Northern Colorado is leading the planet in the production of meat, cheese, and craft brews, and the agricultural roots run deep—especially in Fort Collins with a long history of ranching and farming. Still, as the need for pure, organic, natural ingredients around the world continues to increase, so does childhood obesity and poor mental and physical health. But one couple, Josh and Kirsten Hillhouse, are determined to change that.
In 2007, after Josh and Kirsten purchased 8 acres of land in Fort Collins from a foreclosure auction, they knew there was only one thing they wanted to do with the property: farm it.
Since both Josh and Kirsten have a lifelong love and passion for farm life, extensive backgrounds in agriculture, and an even deeper love for producing organic foods, turning their dream of starting a farm into reality was a no-brainer. So, after their first few years of “casual gardening,” the plot grew large enough to take extra produce and herbs to the local farmers’ market, and Sunray Natural Farm was born.
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“We sell at all our local farmers’ markets from our own homestead store on the farm, and we offer products at our web store, sunraynatural.com. We’ve also sold to restaurants, the Fort Collins Co-Op and Beaver’s Market, but recently we’ve decided to have a more intimate relationship with our customers and open our own store on the farm,” Josh said.
Over the years, Sunray Natural Farm has and is providing culinary herbs and spices, medicinal herbs, chicken and duck eggs, veggies including gourmet salad mixes, tea blends, and grass-fed, GMO-free beef and pork.
“The beauty and freedom of having the finest foods literally popping out of the ground is truly magical. Sharing the experience with others is what this homestead farm is all about, so that’s why we are excited to move into the next phase of our homestead by offering classes, farm-to-table events and more.”
Josh and Kirsten don’t just have a passion for good food, they believe in it—and its ability to truly give people a longer, better lifestyle—just like it gave their now 13-year-old adopted son a second chance at childhood.
“When our son came to live with us at the age of 4, he was always sick, had emotional issues and was a serious handful to care for. After years of detoxifying him through organic foods and herbal teas, he now is hardly ever sick, is able to handle his emotions appropriately and is literally a pinnacle of health in a sea of obese and sick children,” Josh said.
According to Josh, good food doesn’t just make you live longer, it impacts the way children behave and grow.
“We have witnessed firsthand what an organic, sugar- and gluten-free diet can do for children. Health issues fade, poor behavior becomes easier to manage, and over time these children get to become themselves instead of struggling to overcome their poor dietary-caused conditions. Cutting out fast and processed foods, snacking on fruit, veggies, and nuts and cooking organic meals together is the path to true health, and we are living proof that it can work wonders for children and adults,” he continued.
Between his “fairly routine” farm life of waking up to the sound of roosters crowing, eating a breakfast of champions that he gathers from his chickens, and regular farm chores, Josh and Kirsten enjoy raising their son, breeding standard collies and Boston terriers, and doing a bit of freelance marketing projects.
“This lifestyle is certainly not 9 am-5 pm, we pretty much work all the time to make ends meet, always striving to move our farm business forward, while being a healthy contribution to our community. But we still do a little design, marketing and promotion work for other farms and natural product purveyors although our time is limited in this regard. My wife and I pretty much do everything together for the farm, our son, our dogs, our customers, and all the rest,” Josh states.
The Hillhouses plan to do a grand opening for their farm store, Sunray Natural Homestead Store and Apothecary, on October 1st. They are also seeking angel investors, like-minded community members, and crowdfunding options to enable a food truck and catering business, classes and farm-to-table events, a campground in 2019, and a farm-to-table restaurant in 2020.
For more information about Sunray Natural Farm and its location, visit www.sunraynatural.farm.