As a child, Mark Guttridge lived a typical country kid’s life on his grandmother’s 6 acres of land off of Hover Road. He played in the creeks and ditches, raised sheep, chickens, rabbits and vegetables for 4H to show at the Boulder County Fair and participated in his family’s self-sufficient lifestyle by preserving food. Yet like most children, Mark couldn’t wait to move away from home, and he left to study Environmental Engineering at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. After seeing the world, Mark returned to Colorado to get his Master’s degree in Water Resource Engineering at the University of Colorado.
Mark and his wife, Kena, along with their two older daughters, moved back to his grandmother’s property six years ago. While Mark worked 40 hours a week as an environmental consultant, the family planted what turned out to be an oversized vegetable garden in an effort to live more sustainably on their property. After sharing the resulting abundance of vegetables with all of their friends and neighbors, Mark and Kena turned to the Niwot Market to offload the remaining produce. The following year, the Guttridges began selling at the Longmont Farmer’s Market and three years ago, they started leasing 18 acres from Boulder County which surrounds their farm.
Mark categorizes the BCPOS leasing program as “unique” in that it supports the creation of new farms and gives beginning farmers the chance to start and expand their farming operations. With the additional acreage from BCPOS, Ollin Farms is now an economically viable operation for his family, which has grown to include two more daughters, and is further providing the local community with fresh vegetables that are available at the Longmont Farmer’s Market, the seasonal farm stand at Ollin Farms and through the sale of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares to individuals and families. While Mark has yet to quit his environmental consultant job, he does plan to “farm for the rest of my life or until I can’t move.”