Larry and Jill Lawson created a paradise, right in their own backyard, that honors their intense dedication to homegrown food. Larry is a teacher in the Cheyenne Mountain School District; Jill is a painter and artist who has done solo exhibitions in local art venues such as Soiree.

Married for 20 years, the two have “always had a garden everywhere we went,” Jill says.
Five years ago they moved to the Patty Jewett neighborhood and restored an old greenhouse garden shed, which included salvaging a pair of old French doors from one of their neighbors and putting it to good use again. In the bucolic setting they’ve created, where garden beds overflow with lush plants, they host an annual harvest dinner for about a dozen friends and neighbors at the end of every growing season.

One of Jill’s specialties, which is served at every harvest party, is her chicken sausage gumbo. Ravioli made from scratch is another popular dish, along with lamb curry and a kale sausage stew that contains Great Northern beans, sausage, onion, garlic and chicken broth.

“She’s amazing. People come from all over for her cooking,” Larry says with a smile.
Annual favorites from their garden include the mixed greens and fresh herbs.

“I love kale and Swiss chard, and we eat those twice a week if not more,” Jill says. “They are so healthy and just make such a beautiful crop. They are so versatile: they can be roasted, sauteed or cooked in the pressure cooker.”

Throwing some of these stout, colorful greens together with mushrooms and asparagus and topping it all with goat cheese makes a simple but satisfying meal.

The couple were first tipped off about Ranch Foods Direct by neighbors several years ago. Their favorite RFD products include the ground lamb, lamb shank, pork chops, sirloin steaks, rabbit, bacon and the assorted cheeses.

In addition to shopping the store, they’ve brought some of their excess produce to sell at Farm Stand Friday. “I just don’t like to waste anything,” Jill explained. “I’d rather it go to somebody else’s meal.”

They like the idea of supporting a small, local business while also contributing to the local food economy.”We should all be more supportive of locally grown products… and artists,” she says.

Got excess produce? Backyard gardeners are welcome to participate in Farm Stand Fridays at Ranch Foods Direct. E-mail Nichole at for more info.