From left, Glenn Austin shows Ranch Foods Direct owner Mike Callicrate the lush canopy of clover, alfalfa, vetch and mixed cover crops that keep the soil in his orchard dark, rich and moist, and explains how he grafts new trees onto old root stock. The fruit of his labor speaks for itself, especially when wife Toni bakes up cobbler for a family-style dinner. Below, the view through the tall front windows inside the Austin farmhouse.
When an evening shower casts a glowing arc of rainbow over the North Fork Valley, it’s the perfect metaphor to describe how Glenn Austin feels about his comfortable country home with expansive front porch and tall picture windows, designed to take in the stunning view. This is his little piece of paradise, his pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow.
After growing up on a dairy farm in Tennessee and then working what he considers easier jobs as a miner and maintenance supervisor, he along with wife Toni gradually built an orchard, tree by tree, until it became one of the most recognizable sources of organically grown fruit in Colorado Springs. Every apricot, cherry, peach and apple is picked by hand and only regenerative farming practices are used. Now 74, Glenn is gradually passing on more of the work to his children and grandchildren, who are industrious about creating their own enterprises (Exhibit A: Austin Family Farms honey, which you can buy at Ranch Foods Direct.) He’s also passing along respect for tradition and a profound sense of gratitude for nature’s gifts. He often hunts up old abandoned apple trees and grafts them into his trellised rows. “I see opportunities with these old trees,” he says, eyes twinkling.
DID YOU KNOW? … Austin Family Farms has been a supplier to Ranch Foods Direct since the company’s early days. Their famous Western slope peaches are ripe and in-store NOW, along with other seasonal items.