It's a cloudy Sunday as I set up the Palmer information table at the Frost Livestock Ranch in Fountain, Colorado. I watch as people mill around trying unique cocktails, throwing axes at stacked logs, and touring a regenerative and sustainable farm 20 miles south of Colorado Springs. It's definitely not my typical Sunday, but it may be one of my favorites.
When the rains roll in, I am sure we will lose half our attendees, but to my surprise no one seems to notice. We are forced to mosey a few hundred yards to the Big House where there's a bit more protection from inclement weather, but the drinks soon follow and no one minds the brief change of venue. At the Big House, the band continues to play, and we hear from the chef who is creating our meal; our hosts, Jay and his son Sam Frost; and the gentleman who has brought us all together, Mike Preisler, founder of A Grazing Life. This is Mike Preisler's third year hosting farm-to-table dinners, but it's his first to partner with Frost Livestock. He has a vision of creating a community filled with people who understand the benefits of buying and consuming local food, connected to their local producers. Creating this space and bringing these people together is part of fulfilling this vision.
What he's created isn't your typical farm-to-table dinner. A Grazing Life is all about the experience. Absolutely everything is sourced locally, as you would expect with a farm-to-table dinner; the brewery, the distillery, the winery, the food, the flowers on the tables, even the chefs and the bands are local. But for Preisler, it's about more than sourcing: it's getting people to the farm to hear stories, meet the farmers, and experience ranch life, if only for a few hours.
Prior to dinner, Jay Frost and Ellen Kerchner take us on a tour of the ranch and tell us stories of growing up farming and ranching. We learn about current operations, the water rights that play a critical role in farm production, the importance of pollinators to our local food production, and the methods used to mitigate the need for pesticides and herbicides in the garden. Dinner is lamb that has been roasted for 12 hours in a hole dug on the property specifically for the evening's event, a farro salad with lemon yogurt dressing, dill pickled beets, goat chevre, and red wine onions, and slow roasted veggies. Peach Street D' Agave Silver, made with honey, carrot, and beet juice sourced from the ranch, is the evening's signature cocktail.
The evening is filled with the sound of laughter as couples dance near the band or play cornhole while holding drinks in their hands. As people start to head to their cars at the end of the night, and I finally have a minute to reflect, I realize that Preisler has created something truly special.
The Palmer Land Trust is proud to partner with A Grazing Life to offer this unique event.
A Grazing Life donates 5 percent of ticket sales to the land trust to help conserve important farms and ranches in southern Colorado.
A few more dinners are scheduled at the farm through mid-September, each featuring a different guest chef. Go to AGrazingLife.com for details or to buy tickets.