White Buffalo features a high mountain valley orchard with organic fruit known as “the tastiest in the state!”* We harvest, sort, pack, deliver and preserve (and eat!) varieties of apricots, sweet and native cherries, plums, peaches, Asian pears, pears and apples. White Buffalo is the oldest and longest standing organic fruit orchard in the valley and region.
Of utmost importance, years of experience ensure fruit is harvested at just the right time for the peak of flavor! Outstanding organic farming practices and starch-to-sugar conversion at this farm’s altitude and exposure are key! The valley’s pome fruit wholesale distributor, Rogers Mesa Fruit Company, explains: “Our [fruit] is grown in Western Colorado in a mountain valley formed by the Gunnison River. The high altitude ensures intense sunshine and a daily climate which can vary 40 [degrees day to night optimizing starch-to-sugar conversion]. Irrigating with snow melt run-off, we are also blessed with a first-use water source. These distinct benefits help produce some of the sweetest fruit possible, while fostering sustainable agriculture in the Rocky Mountain Region.”
* per senior buyer at Growers Organic in Denver.
No other farm in our valley or beyond offers White Buffalo Farm’s unique mix of plentiful water, upper valley remoteness, years of organic farming practices, orchard diversity, sustainable scale, iconic history, adjacent wildlands and frost-protecting river winds!
In point-by-point comparison, you will not find a more wonderful market farm in the Rockies and Southwest! The land is subdividable and residential development would be lucrative. Yet ideally, Wayne would like to see the land remain in certified organic farming, and even see an ecovillage remain on the property. Wayne is ready to sell. All offers will be considered. Licensed buyer’s broker will receive one percent.
There is great potential for market development and increased production! White Buffalo Farm is replete in undeveloped potential in agri-tourism, service learning and restorative retreat services, not to mention its regional year-round CSA. Agro-tourism ventures might include sustainability workshops, an interpretive natural history center, a cafe and B&B. Micro-enterprise might include small batch organic foods, personal care and medicinal products like preserves, sheep cheeses, honey, infused oils, infused salts, juice drinks, herbal products, flower essences, soaps and more! The farm is under-producing by at least half what it could produce, hence, we are recruiting for a solid farm team! And, it is time to tap into small scale distribution with boutique health food stores, CSAs and CSA look a likes on Front Range. Wholesale pricing is quite low for valley farmers and generally insufficient to cover costs. Furthermore, payments on fruit are not set until months after delivery based on commodity markets. Rogers Mesa is not a cooperative, but rather independently owned. Growers Organic provides much slightly higher pricing to valley farmers with a delivery truck arriving twice weekly for pick up and delivery. Pricing does not cover costs and so Wayne actively organized and mentored others to develop a CSA and to open farmer’s markets in Boulder, Telluride, Crested Butte, Gunnison and Montrose. We need to be in these markets and more!
To illustrate the farm’s visitor appeal, imagine a farm gate directly off the West Elk Wilderness Scenic Byway provides access to the valley’s first orchard as you descend in elevation from the glories of McClure Pass. You’ve entered a paradisical valley and you ponder the view. A welcoming sign informs that you gaze upon Colorado’s oldest organic orchard! You are encouraged to turn in for a stop at the farm’s low-key, yet sophisticated cafe set in a lovely and wild riparian vale. From here, you catch a closer glimpse of the state’s most diverse orchard! You discover a suspended foot bridge (to be developed) merits exploration as you find your way into the farm proper. On the farm, you discover visitors may go on a walkabout in the orchard. Therein, you discover the present moment of the orchard’s exquisite seasonal displays: an array of fruit varieties adorned with fruit blossoms, or later in the season, the spectrum of fruit forming, growing and ripening. On second thought, you go back for that tempting picnic basket in the cafe. Basket in hand, you return to the farthest reaches of the plum orchard. You are lulled by the cascading river melody so nearby. You opt to settle in for lovely picnic lunch of the farm’s own bounty! What a treat! Much interpretive potential exists on the farm to nourish the longings and imagination of even the most jaded traveller. Authenticity abounds in this most special farm setting!
How best might we build upon White Buffalo Farm’s iconic legacy of “restoring our food, our earth, ourselves?” The farm’s transition management group hopes to attract an informal advisory board and funding in order to facilitate the coming together of a talented team of social entrepreneurs to work together and make it happen! With a solid team of collaborative and dedicated co-leaders, the farm could become a self-funded. non profit, holistic farm village learning and retreat center!
The farm features senior irrigation water, three taps on a deliciously pure domestic water pipeline, and soils restored by forty years of organic farming practices. The farm’s strong foundation of agricultural assets includes vegetable fields, pasture, three high tunnels and a wash station. All farm equipment currently in use on the farm is included including two tractors, delivery truck, a rototiller and much more! The farm features three historic homes, several seasonal staff residences, and a wonderful “historic 70s” hexagonal community kitchen. In addition, a renovation and natural building initiative is underway!
This homestead farm was reborn in the back-to-the-land movement as the state’s premier organic orchard. This farm opened the doors on organic fruit for customers at mom and pop health food stores from Texas to Colorado including Crystal Market (later Wild Oats) and Alfalfa’s in Boulder, Vitamin Cottage in Denver, Whole Foods in Austin and many others. There was no other source for organic fruit in these markets! In the fall of 1978, the farm even hauled a load of organic plums and shipped sweet cherries to Los Angeles and Philadelphia. This farm was the first source of organic pears for the country’s first organic baby food, Earth’s Best. Soon later, the farm’s owner contributed to crafting protocols for organic fruit farming. Not only did the farm participate in the development of state and national organic certification, but the farm was the region’s only supplier of market quantities of organic fruit in the 1970s and 1980s. Rogers Mesa Fruit went organic in 1985! The farm offers an authentic story and brand upon which to leverage expansion into regional markets for agro-tourism visits and fruit sales. Regional markets from Santa Fe, to Denver and Salt Lake City are all in a day’s travel. Regional National Parks – Mesa Verde, Grand Canyon and Rocky Mountain – are a powerful draw for foreign vistiors as well! For tourists once on the farm, the premier attractions of the Colorado Plateau are are all in easy reach – from Moab to Chaco to Aspen!
Wayne Talmage, the farm’s owner, is nearing retirement and his children are unable to succeed him. Wayne seeks to hand over the farm to a new generation. Wayne developed a business plan for 2014 to strategically address operations this year, the farm’s sale and development. For 2014, he focusses on networking for the farm sale and building a staff management team that can run the farm without him! Please contact us for a copy of White Buffalo Farm’s 2014 business plan. We are working with Colorado Land Link and networking widely to get the word out! However, Wayne does not have ten years to navigate a transition. He urgently seeks farmers ready to run the farm now! Farming doesn’t stop simply because a farm is for sale. This is a great time to learn how to manage this farm in a team setting and possibly take over farm operations under new ownership, in a farm-based eco-village or through foundation funding. We continue to accept new interns, apprentices and staff of all ages! If you wish to visit the farm as a prospective buyer, advisor or farm benefactor during our transition, we welcome your inquiry!
White Buffalo Farm is traversed by a half mile of the North Fork of the Gunnison River and is situated in the highest arable reaches of the valley. Our fruit is the last to freeze out and the last to come off the tree in the multi-state region. This opens a unique market segment when supply is low and demand still high. We can still sell fruit when a particular fruit variety is elsewise in short supply.
Our orchard is the first one heading west down valley on the West Elk Scenic Byway (Highway 133) by way of McClure Pass (from Aspen) or by way of Kebler Pass (from Crested Butte). The farm is at the end of the Old River Road three miles east of Paonia. This partially dirt road is a lovely bikable country lane.
Beautiful Orchard in Mountain Valley
The diverse orchard is comprised of varieties of cherry including native species, apricot, peach, plum, pear and apple. The orchard includes true-to-seed damson plums and native sour cherries. Even in a valley of newly emerging, small organic farms, few possess diverse orchards. The farm’s operations benefit from ideal conditions for fruit farming. A special niche climate exists in the upper North Fork River Valley that funnels the “Million Dollar Wind.” This air current serves exceptionally well for frost protection in ways no wind machine can replicate! Not only is the orchard diverse, it is the state’s pioneering organic orchard with numerous studies conducted on the site by state and federally-funded agronomists.
Cleanest Air and Water
We are one hour southeast of the I-70 corridor fruit growing areas near Grand Junction. Our valley lies between the massive Grand Mesa (Colorado Monument) to the north and the federally designated West Elk Wilderness to the southeast. Our domestic water is from an aquifer in this watershed, the most pure in the state.
Additionally, because of White Buffalo Farm’s upper valley location, over-spray drift doesn’t harm people or plant life prior to heading to market! The farm is never exposed to GMO contamination from neighboring, non-organic operations. Furthermore, the farm’s water supply is not contaminated by return flows from farms up river as White Buffalo is the first farm on the ditch systems of the North Fork Valley and hence the Upper Colorado Basin. This is a perfect place to grow pure food for the benefit of all!
Tell your friends and family about this special farm opportunity! There is much untapped potential for the right management team!
Diverse Market Farm
White Buffalo Farm is the west’s vanguard organic market farm. established 1974. The farm primarily produces fruit, vegetables, greens year round and herbs. We have three high tunnels for year round production. in 2014, we are offering farm tours and workshops. We sell through our Community Supported Agriculture program, and at Farmers Markets, through wholesalers and to restaurants and retail venues.
This farm is just the right size! Scale is where its at! Too big and you lose sustainability and quality of life! When a farm is at the right size, it is possible to develop nice relationships with nice people! White Buffalo Farm is the longest running organic market farm in Colorado, now going on almost forty years! This with cause by building all of the nice business relationships for which Wayne Talmage is well-known.
The farm’s rejuvenated organic soil, abundance of unpolluted water, secluded end-of-the-road mountain setting, mellow biking proximity to charming Paonia, and riparian habitat adjacent to wilderness make this farm an exceptional natural resource to be cherished and protected for future generations.