Thanks for visiting us! We would hope that your personal experiences and knowledge would help us grow and learn as much as ours would yours. If the operation and work described herein seems to fit your concept of what you are looking for, we request a call, letter, fax, e-mail, for further personal interview. There may be other areas we have not addressed about which you may have further questions. Please feel free to inquire. -Ken and Gail Kuhns
Our farming operation is centered on 5.5 acres we own at the west end of Peach Valley, about 4 miles west of New Castle, at5500 feet in the Colorado River drainage of the central Rockies, about 150 miles west of Denver. We have lived here since 1980 and have gardened it organically from the beginning. Soil health is accomplished through crop rotations, green manure crops, homeopathic preparations, and flocks of sheep, chickens, and turkeys. Water diverted from Elk Creek, and rights from two ditches serve the property. Labor is done primarily by hand, with the help of several small tractors and tillers. Several acres of land that have been without chemical inputs since 1990 are leased from nearby farms. Early spring gardens are comprised of unheated hoop houses and cold frame space.
We currently lease several orchards throughout Peach Valley. All have good water rights, soils, air drainage and productive trees. Lease agreements include help in planting new varieties and keeping the existing trees healthy and organic. Orchards have had no chemical inputs or sprays since 1990. 50 standard size apple, apricot, and plum trees join 20 new standard peach trees ,for the majority of production.
As we’ve been homesteading here since the late seventies, our four children have grown up on the farm along with many other children, friends and adults. As of now all children have grown and moved on, returning occassionally for visits and celebration. Summer is always a busy time for people stopping by and perhaps staying a day or two etc. So, the farm has many faces and activities, regardless.
A large solar home, begun in 1980, continues to be built, housing family rooms, apprentice apartment, distribution rooms, walk-in cooler, water storage, and greenhouse space. The farm also includes underground irrigation, 4000 square feet of cold frame / hoop house space, barn area, a small pond, access to public land, and beautiful scenery. Our water well provides adequate (but not unlimited) water supply to ours and one other property. Both households now have back up tanks to keep some water reserve if drought conditions persist. An 8000 gallon cistern helps for winter irrigation.
Our family goals center around finding ways to remain connected to family, friends, and community. We are recent grandparents of a new and third granddaughter, an exciting new circle of life in the year’s ahead. A prospective apprentice would need to be aware of our family dynamics and be willing to contribute and integrate on various levels. This could involve household chores, cooking, cleanup, shopping, meetings and mentoring. We strive to resolve conflict peacefully through listening and communication.
Our farm season goals include stabilization of our CSA and Farm Market shares. Continuing community support from a strong core group of working members has made success possible and is vital to our future. We hope to develop further perennial crops of small fruits, berries, grapes, flowers and herbs. We’re looking to create more value added, market, and season specific crops to provide a more year round food supply and spread the work load. We’ll continue to raise small amounts of meats and eggs. Continued collaboration with the Adesa Community initiative is also in our future.
The apprentice needs to understand that farming is hard work, with uncertain hours, and adverse conditions. Western Colorado summers usually are beautiful, but can be very hot and dry during the day and cool at night. Taking stock of any health problems or allergies is important. We are usually busy from sunup to sundown, but we try also to take time for enjoyment of Life and the Seasons. Depending on the time of year, a typical week begins Monday / Tuesday morning and ends Saturday afternoon after Market van is unloaded.
The farm work of this apprenticeship could involve the following: planting, weeding, cultivating, transplanting, pruning, irrigating, picking, packing, marketing, and delivering. Animal care, light construction, repair, record keeping, food preservation newsletter and computer work are also possible duties. Books and newsletters abound for study and reflection.
Apprentices who commit to the full season will be provided with apartment room (with bathroom) and board (farm fresh, all organic) : value of $650 - $750 per month. Also included : stipend of $400 - $500 per month (depending on experience) , some personal items, possible cash from market sales or a season ending bonus. Total value per month would range between $1250 - $1400. Commitments of less than three months are provided room and board only. Specialty food items, telephone calls, and personal trips are the responsibility of the apprentice. For paperwork purposes the apprenticeship is treated as contract labor. We feel we provide a positive learning experience in a diverse agricultural operation which would allow the apprentice a well rounded view of small scale family oriented farming, in a beautiful area of the Rocky Mountains.
If you have read this far and retained interest, we'd love for you to contact us for an interview! Candidates are required to complete the Application Questionnaire. It helps us greatly to know that you're interested before you mail the application, so if you can, please call us to let us know it's on it's way!