— An Ela Family Tradition —

Ela Family Farms is the first certified organic, fourth-generation orchard in the Rocky Mountain West.

It is with a heavy heart that we are sharing this news. The freeze last October inflicted serious damage to our trees, when we had the coldest night I have ever seen at that time of year. The temperature bottomed out at three degrees.  Before that, our October temperatures had been unseasonably warm. Our trees had no chance to get used to the cold or to harden off…Read the full story below.

So, that’s the hard news.

We are inviting you to ride out the storm with us in three ways:

1) Consider participating in the farm in new ways – we are offering a bunch of virtual learning and on-farm experiences this year, looking for the bright side of having more time when there’s little fruit to harvest.

2) Join us when you can at farmers markets this year. We will still be bringing whatever fruit makes it to bloom and then through spring frosts.

3) Hold your breath with us, ready to jump into CSAs again next year. Because of our deep uncertainty about the crop, we are not confident that we can fulfill CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and so are not going to be offering fruit shares this year.

We want to honor your part in our farm.
We hope you will understand. Sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we cry. We hope you will stay with us for a better year. 

Watch videos of looking for live wood in the cherries: view Medium sized branch – a hint of green ; view Cutting a large branch, brown

A live cambium layer is green, but this one is brown. This is what a dead limb looks like. This cambium layer has both green and brown, so time will tell if this limb survives.

Do you remember as kids we used to hide and then jump out at someone just to scare the tar out of them? Sometimes they laughed and sometimes they weren’t so happy…  

Well, Mother Nature likes to do that to us. She jumps out at us and sometimes we come out laughing, wondering how we got through a cold night. Sometimes Mother Nature exerts the upper hand and we aren’t so happy. This is one of those times.

Last October we had the coldest night I have ever seen in October. The temperature bottomed out at three degrees.  Before that, our October temperatures had been unseasonably warm. Our trees had no chance to get used to the cold or to harden off. The sudden freeze took them by surprise. Mother Nature’s jump scare got them. The immediate effect was seeing dead leaves hanging on the branches, denying the trees their normal chance to move nutrients from the leaves to the tree. But the full impact wasn’t obvious at first. Deep damage takes time to show, so we waited, hoping for the best, scared to know what might be the worst.

Gathering up our determination, we finally walked around last week and looked at the fruit buds and the trees. It was a devastating walk.  

From what we can tell, our three acres of mature cherry trees are completely dead. Our four acres of one year old peach trees are dead or severely injured. Same for two year old peach trees. Our three year old peach trees, that are just starting to fruit, are hurt but maybe alive. Older peach trees are alive, but most branches smaller than your thumb are dead. We are likely to lose many mature plum trees. Pear trees are alive with some possible viable fruit buds, but many buds are dead. Apple trees are alive and some seem to have viable buds. We are concerned. All the surviving trees have been stressed and will be extra vulnerable to diseases. Spring freezes and any drought this summer will stress them further. For stone fruits our normal pruning will be completely different and very sad this year.

Our crop for this coming summer is drastically reduced.  How many peaches will we pick from the older damaged trees?  Pears were badly hurt but maybe some will fruit? Can we keep our fingers crossed for apples? And, we still have to navigate our “normal” frost season meaning more of any currently surviving buds may die.

You are our community, understanding that extreme crop years like this are part of the bumpy farming road. Shirley Ela, 96, walks 1/4 mile through the orchard to get to the farm office most days. She said that there was a similar fall freeze with similar fruit damage in 1962. This is what perseverance looks like.

So, that’s the hard news. Because of our deep uncertainty about the crop, we are not confident that we can fulfill CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and so are not going to be offering fruit shares this year.

We want to honor your part in our farm. We are asking you to extend the dynamic flexibility you’ve always shown, and do three things:
1) join us when you can at farmers markets this year.
2)hold your breath with us, ready to jump into CSAs again next year.
3) consider participating in the farm in new ways – we are going to offer a bunch of virtual learning and on-farm experiences this year, looking for the bright side of having more time when there’s little fruit to harvest.

You all know the many benefits of eating locally grown food, and maybe you’re part of the community who dedicates a portion of your food dollars to this. We will still be bringing whatever fruit makes it to bloom, and then through spring frosts, to our farmers markets this season.

We hope you will understand. Sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we cry. We hope you will stay with us for a better year.  

A live cambium layer is green, but this one is brown. This is what a dead limb looks like. This cambium layer has both green and brown, so time will tell if this limb survives.

We are a family farm growing over 55 varieties of organic tree fruits—cherries, peaches, pears, apples, plums, plus organic grapes and multiple varieties of organic heirloom tomatoes. Every last thing we sell or make—from fresh fruit to artisanal organic jams, jellies, fruit butters, sauces, dried fruits, and cider—we grow ourselves. Our business is built on flavor, environmental stewardship, quality, local food we can all believe in, and building relationships.

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Yes our fruit is delicious! It's also certified organic and grown on a zero food-waste farm powered by 80% renewable energy. Ela Family Farms also participates in scientific research projects that support the future of organic agriculture.

I just bit into my first peach from the farmer's market and it was so good it made me come and write this review. Looking forward to more peaches, plums, pears and apples from Ela's.

Tuesday Samantha Lee

The best apples I ever ate!!!

Kristy Lichtenfeld

Went to the farmers market in Old Town Fort Collins today and met these wonderful farmers. ALL of their samples were delicious, it was hard to choose what to buy. We went with the peach plum jam and were NOT disappointed. The greatest part of this experience was the warmness and kindness from the employees. They were friendly, patient, and helpful. We will definitely be customers again in the future.

Kaitlin Farruggia

Back in about 1990, I bought some absolutely amazing Suncrest peaches (from an Eastern Slope orchard's store) that originally came from Ela Family Farms, and I've been DYING to get my hands on some more - I live in peach country in upstate NY now, but NOBODY has Suncrest peaches! There IS no other peach that measures up to YOUR Suncrest peaches!!! Please, someone at Ela Family Farms, SAVE me from my misery!

Rebecca Sewell

I purchased 24 peaches online on Sunday, they shipped on Tuesday, and they arrived in Tennessee on Thursday in perfect condition. They are the sweetest, juiciest peaches around, just like I remembered them when I lived in Colorado.

Cindy Anderson Craft

Fantastic farm, farmer, and crew. A weekly farmer's market visit for our family for over a decade.

Jeff Wright

We will only eat peaches from Ela's. All others taste like plaster. That is all.

Susan McAllister

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