Most of us have passed the Hidden Mesa Open Space many times on our way south on Hwy. 83 towards Franktown. You've likely noticed that just south of the Open Space are long greenhouses growing... something...
This is Hidden Mesa Research and Demonstration Orchard, and it's a local (and county) treasure.
Its primary mission is to research and demonstrate the functionality of various crops, cultivars and cultural methods specifically for use in our unique and challenging Front Range Climate. Research done in other regions is only marginally applicable to our region.
Douglas County and its partners are working to make the facility at Hidden Mesa a regional center for agricultural research, education, and promotion. The information and training offered could easily benefit people from Fort Collins to Pueblo and into the Eastern Plains. This center is located right in the middle of that range.
With the current amenities and planned improvements, the facility will be able to not only conduct research but also teach classes, host hands-on workshops and broaden activities to include food preparation, crop processing, and numerous other topics.
Most of the vegetable crops grown at the research and demonstration orchard are donated to the Parker Task Force. The Task Force is a volunteer-run food bank and counseling center that benefits the local community in numerous ways. The orchard has donated between 2500-5000 pounds of produce to the Task Force annually.
Hidden Mesa has big plans for future expansion. They plan to renovate the rooms of the historic structures on the property to accommodate these functions: commercial-grade kitchen, cold storage area, historic dining room for farm-to-table dinners, historic living room for meetings and conferences, and bedrooms for offices and laboratories. They also want to restore landscaping around the facility that would center heavily on time-period functionality, such as kitchen & herb gardens, heirloom fruit trees, and edible landscapes.
Learn more about this wonderful facility here.