If you haven't tried the potatoes from Rivendell Farm - or met John Cooley personally - you are in for a treat! Read more about the history of the farm and how John came to farm such amazing potatoes!
John always knew that he would farm, though he never really had much of a garden, nor took any classes. His first experience farming was in 1976-77 at the foot of Mt. Blanca in the San Louis Valley, where the soil was sand. At that time, everything the potatoes needed was given to them through the water pumped through the center pivot sprinkler. Yes, they cultivated, fertilized, and for the most part it was pretty artificial. John would harvest, store the spuds in the cellar, then spray some sort of chemical on them to keep them from sprouting. They would last longer and ‘hold’ until they could get the ‘price’, then they would be washed, bagged, and put into stores.
It was then and there that John realized that there was a better way of growing and distributing potatoes, and he was determined to grow spuds without any chemicals.
The Farm was established in 1881 and is one of the oldest farms on the Gunnison River. John purchased the land in 1998, and the river flows on the north property line. The soil was sandy, compacted, white alkali, and extremely high PH. The field was uneven, filled with Tamerask and Russian Olive trees and brush. John started adding compost and organic matter to the soil, and his goal was to revive the 10-acre farm that was entirely depleted and to grow the best potatoes that he possibly could. Compost, cover crops, rotation and cultivation, was all key elements to making the soil healthy again.
At Rivendell Farm the aim is to produce potatoes that taste better than anyone else’s and that are more nourishing - and to treat the Earth with care and enhance the land of the Farm. One can taste the minerals that have been released from the soil into the crops produced at the Farm, he says.
Currently their main crops are: potatoes, onions, garlic, tomatoes, sweet corn, lettuce and peas.
The farm has been Certified Organic, and certified naturally grown. As of now, their practices are leaning more towards Biodynamic.
‘The true gift is to grow a crop from seed, nurture a plant, harvest the crop. An even greater gift is to have a person you do not know come up to you and thank you for what you do. To see the pure honesty in the face, the excitement in the eyes of a person who understands what you are trying to do. Fifteen years now and the farm has only gotten better. I think I have done what I set out to do: grow good and healthy food for people. Yes, this is what I do, and this is what I enjoy.’ - John Cooley
CLICK HERE to read an article written about Rivendell Farm & John Cooley, by the Telluride Farmers Market.
CLICK HERE to link to Rivendell Farm's Facebook Page.