From mass production to specialty organic foods, Northern Colorado is a global leader in the production of meat, cheese and craft brews. 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 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 lifelong love and passion for farm life, have extensive backgrounds in agriculture, and an even deeper love for producing organic foods, turning their dream into reality was a no-brainer. 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.
“We sell at all our local farmers markets from our own homestead store on the farm, and we offer products at our web store, http://sunraynatural.com. We’ve also sold to restaurants, the Fort Collins COOP and Beaver’s Market,” Josh said. “But recently we’ve decided to have a more intimate relationship with our customers and open our own store on the farm.”
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,” Josh said. “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, including a man very dear to their hearts — Grandpa Hillhouse.
“Our farm name is in remembrance of my grandfather Ray Hillhouse, who despite his bad habits lived to a ripe, old age with the help of real food and my grandmother’s home cooking. It is also a glimpse into our soul as we embrace the sunlight and a more natural way of coexisting with our great world.”
According to Josh, good food doesn’t just make you live longer, it helps you feel better too.
“Small scale, diverse and organic farming can help people fight disease and mental illness by providing the body with the nutrition it needs to operate at a higher level, warding off many issues before they even arise. Working from the ideas of our founding nutrition leaders such as Dr. Royal Lee and Weston A. Price, we have seen natural foods change our own bodies, and now we have spent years selling our herbs and teas to others who truly believe pure food is the answer to preventing illness and disease. There is no magic cure outside of what our bodies can already do for themselves given the proper, clean fuel it needs,” Josh 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 adopted 13-year-old son, breeding standard collies and Boston terriers, and doing a bit of freelance marketing projects.
“This lifestyle is certainly not 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 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 host a grand opening for their farm store, Sunray Natural Homestead Store and Apothecary, on Oct. 1. They also are seeking angel investors, like-minded community members, and crowd-funding 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, go to www.sunraynatural.farm.