Colorado Organic Farming: A History

Organic farming has been touted on everything from egg cartons to shampoo labels since the FDA made it a designation in 2002. But, like the “farm to table” trend, it’s hardly a new thing.

Just ask Richard Behrmann, whose family had owned and operated the Miraflora Naturals organic farm outside of Boulder, Colo., for more than 100 years. “When I was little, everything was organic,” he said in an interview for Boulder Magazine. “There were no pesticides, no herbicides. And there were no commercial fertilizers. Everything was fertilized with horse manure and cow manure.”

Behrmann’s father, August Behrmann, bought the 160 acre farm near Boulder in 1907 to raise milk cows, grain, pigs, chickens, sheep, turkeys, and vegetables, all fed by water from nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. The farm was one of Colorado’s original homesteads—the first deed was signed by Ulysses S. Grant—and it still boasts structures that date back to the 1880s. 

 

In that era, small farms—all of which were organic—played a crucial role supplying the growing communities along Colorado’s Front Range. The town of Boulder began as a supply base for miners heading into the mountains hoping to strike it rich, and then its population grew from tourism and enrollment at the University of Colorado. All of these new residents needed meat, vegetables, and milk—and the local farms quickly grew to become more commercial operations.

Today, the Miraflora family runs its USDA certified organic farm much like the Behrmanns did back in 1907, using the same pure snowmelt from the nearby peaks and organic alpaca fertilizer, called “Alpaca Gold” for its nutrients, from the farm’s herd. To earn USDA certification, Miraflora had to meet the strict standards included in the organic certification process, including using cultural and biological processes that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promoting ecological balance, and conserving biodiversity. 

Behrmann, whose family still lives on the land, commented, “Organic farming is the only way we know how to farm.” Miraflora is committed to keeping it that way.

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