Kiowa Valley Organics
Husband-and-wife team David Rippe and Sara Bevan, who operate Kiowa Valley Organics on 500 acres of Colorado grassland an hour east of Denver, both learned about farming from their parents.
Sara got her hands dirty with organic farming and learned the importance of healthy soil by helping her father grow vegetables on the family plot during her childhood. As an adult, she started raising vegetables on her own quarter-acre plot in the early 1990s and found a ready market for them at the Boulder County Farmer’s Market.
On the land that’s now Kiowa Valley Organics, husband David’s family first had a herd of dairy cows, then switched in 1984 to raising beef cattle, along with grains and hay. His growing-up experience exposed him to the negative effects of chemical fertilizers and pesticides on soil and of medications administered to cattle. What he saw led him to become an organic farmer in 1991.
At today’s Kiowa Valley Organics, David, Sara and Sara’s daughter Caren raise organic grass-fed cattle, pasture-raised chickens for eggs, and organic produce. Their beef is sold through Panorama Meats to Whole Foods Markets’ Pearl Street store in Boulder, one of the grocer’s most popular outlets for organic grass-fed beef.
The family’s pasture is lush with alfalfa, legumes and other grasses that provide good nutrients for their 65 head of crossbred Gelbvieh/ Angus cattle that were bred to thrive on grass and pasture. Most years, the cattle graze year-round, though David tells the story of what he calls “the Solstice Blizzard of 2007,” a storm that dropped three feet of snow and forced the cattle into the paddock, where they were fed hay grown on the farm until the snowdrifts cleared.
Along with their mutual love of growing things, David and Sara share a common philosophy: that land stewardship is not only a key to farming success but a moral obligation of today’s farmers.
“We both believe we should be constantly improving the land rather than depleting it,” says David. “My intention is to leave the land in better condition than I found it.”