Hidden Mesa Research and Demonstration Orchard

Sharing fruits, vegetables of their labor

Research orchard provides produce to Parker Task Force

Posted 10/1/16

A fall breeze cut through the end-of-summer sun in Franktown, a cool signal to volunteers at the Hidden Mesa Research and Demonstration Orchard to bring in the last crops of the season.

Green thumbs from the Douglas County Master Gardener program …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail
Password
Log in

Don't have an ID?


Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.

Non-subscribers

Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you’re a print subscriber or made a voluntary contribution in Nov. 2016-2017, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access Includes access to all websites


Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.
Hidden Mesa Research and Demonstration Orchard

Sharing fruits, vegetables of their labor

Research orchard provides produce to Parker Task Force

Posted

A fall breeze cut through the end-of-summer sun in Franktown, a cool signal to volunteers at the Hidden Mesa Research and Demonstration Orchard to bring in the last crops of the season.

Green thumbs from the Douglas County Master Gardener program gathered the remaining canary melons, lemon cucumbers, strawberries and other fruits and vegetables as roosters and chickens continued their patrol for freeloading grasshoppers.

“I thought it was a great year overall,” said Andy Hough, environmental resources coordinator for Douglas County's Division of Open Space and Natural Resources, of the late September harvesting.

The orchard — which also shares its bounty with the Parker Task Force — is in its fifth year of trying out new cultivation methods and various crops that can thrive in Colorado's temperamental climate.

This season's above-average temperatures had some positive and negative outcomes on the orchard's output, Hough said. “We had the best fruit yield of any year we've ever had.”

A warm spring, he said, kept damaging frosts at bay, benefiting the apples, elderberries, grapes and plums.

The spring warmth turned to summer heat, though, and Hough said that may have contributed to a decline in melons, squash and tomato production.

“Certain garden vegetables didn't perform as well as we would have hoped,” Hough said. “Maybe it was the heat.”

The ups and downs from season to season are all part of the orchard's mission to determine the region's heartiest crops.

“To us a failure is not a failure,” Hough said. “If a certain crop doesn't do well in our climate, then that's valuable information.”

But Diane Roth, volunteer spokesperson for the Parker Task Force, has a purely positive take on the year's harvest.

“It's a great year,” Roth, said. “It's such a treat for the clients that come to the food bank to have fresh strawberries and raspberries. It's all organic, freshly picked high quality fruits and vegetables from the garden.”

Low-income clients at the task force's food bank would normally have to spend between 40 and 70 percent of their food budget to get the high quality produce the orchard provides, Roth said.

“The support of the master gardeners just increases the amount of fruit and vegetables our clients have access to,” she said. “It improves their diets tremendously.”

Roth's husband, Jeff, is project coordinator for Hidden Mesa. It was his idea five years ago to do more than mere data collection with the crops.

The projects the master gardener program oversees often provide good information, he said, but the orchard is unique in its ability to help the needy as it provides valuable agricultural research.

“It's not just something that you can look at,” Roth said. “It's something you can eat… We're excited to be able to put that bounty to good use.”

Comments

No comments on this story | Please log in to comment by clicking here
Please log in or register to add your comment