Farmers' Markets

Know Your Farmer: Responsible Agriculture at McCauley Family Farm

McCauley Family Farm in Longmont.
McCauley Family Farm in Longmont. Linnea Covington
The shady nooks, patches of green grass, fresh air and occasional renegade chicken wandering the grounds of McCauley Family Farm in Longmont make this picturesque property feel like the real deal, but it's more than just a pretty picture. Owner Marcus McCauley wants to raise good food and bring life back to some of the empty pastures around Boulder Country.

click to enlarge Marcus McCauley of McCauley Family Farm in Longmont. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Marcus McCauley of McCauley Family Farm in Longmont.
Linnea Covington
"It's all about how we choose to nourish ourselves and how that can heal the land," says McCauley, who is part of an effort to revitalize acres of city-owned open land that's been deemed unusable. It's hard work, he says, but, "on the upside, it's a delicious and healthy experience."

click to enlarge The house at McCauley Family Farm, which you can rent through Airbnb. - LINNEA COVINGTON
The house at McCauley Family Farm, which you can rent through Airbnb.
Linnea Covington
McCauley grew up in Oklahoma and has been in Colorado for ten years. He started his farm seven years ago and lives on the property, in an old homesteader's cottage, with his wife and son. The big house next to it was built in the 1970s and looks like the perfect farm getaway, which anyone can experience by booking it on Airbnb.

click to enlarge Chickens roam free in an enclosed outdoor space. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Chickens roam free in an enclosed outdoor space.
Linnea Covington
The main product from the farm comes in chicken form; McCauley raises about 4,500 birds for meat and another 400 for eggs. All of the heritage birds reside in a large fenced-in lot with a henhouse in the center. Every week, McCauley moves the birds to fresh pasture to forage and fertilize the area. Occasionally one escapes, but McCauley doesn't sweat it. Usually, he says, they come home to roost.


click to enlarge Pasture-raised chickens run free in an enclosed outdoor space. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Pasture-raised chickens run free in an enclosed outdoor space.
Linnea Covington

click to enlarge Fresh eggs are one of the biggest sellers from the farm. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Fresh eggs are one of the biggest sellers from the farm.
Linnea Covington
"This is what pasture-raised looks like, and this is what happens if you know your farmer," he says as we watch the beautiful birds peck for food and wander about the yard.

McCauley laments how hard it is to get his wholesome chicken in commercial kitchens due to cost efficiency and other issues. He says that Potager buys 25 chickens a week, and Paul O'Reilly of Beast + Bottle and Coperta has purchased meat from him as well. But in general, he says, most of his sales come from private citizens.

click to enlarge Marcus McCauley inspecting the new lambs. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Marcus McCauley inspecting the new lambs.
Linnea Covington
Aside from poultry, the farm also raises lambs, heritage-breed pigs and a few llamas and alpacas, who help guard the sheep. McCauley grows vegetables for sale and to use as animal feed; one of his specialties is chiles, which he uses to make his own Picaflor line of fermented pepper flakes (great on pizza) and hot sauces, and he also sells canned beets, carrots and cucumbers. The produce is grown on the farm, but processing and packaging happens off-location, at a space in Boulder.

click to enlarge McCauley raises pigs on his family farm. - LINNEA COVINGTON
McCauley raises pigs on his family farm.
Linnea Covington
McCauley likes to share his knowledge, so he invites other farmers to classes he teaches on his farm so that they can learn how to keep income flowing even in the winter. He also wants people to know what it's like to work the land, what it means for Boulder County and Colorado to keep the ecosystem whole and healthy, and the importance of sustainable farming.

"You can't take a broken ecosystem and put it on a shelf," says McCauley, adding that there are 1,000 dusty acres all around Boulder County just like the forty he is regenerating. "It's spring, and they look like a moonscape."

click to enlarge A renegade chicken wandering the property. - LINNEA COVINGTON
A renegade chicken wandering the property.
Linnea Covington
Part of the rejuvenation process involves keylining, a form of deep plowing and contouring to maximize water efficiency, and bringing in animals to fertilize, gently mold and work soil. Pigs can help rough up a spot when the farm needs to move a new crop in, and chicken droppings make great fertilizer.

"I have a dream about taking this dried land and everybody using it to grow the food that goes to our schools," he says.

click to enlarge A slice of the McCauley Family Farm. - LINNEA COVINGTON
A slice of the McCauley Family Farm.
Linnea Covington
For now, find McCauley Family Farm eggs, chicken and other meats and products at the Boulder Farmers' Market, Union Station Farmers' Market, Longmont Farmers' Market, in select Whole Foods and Natural Grocers, or by signing up for a chicken CSA, where you'll get a selection of meats and eggs sent to you each month, starting at $40 for a quarter share (which includes one package each of breasts, wings and legs, and a whole chicken), plus $10 for delivery. The Picaflor fermented hot sauces and pepper flakes can be found year-round at select shops around town.
click to enlarge Marcus McCauley of McCauley Family Farms in Longmont. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Marcus McCauley of McCauley Family Farms in Longmont.
Linnea Covington
click to enlarge Tasty fermented hot sauces made by Picaflor. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Tasty fermented hot sauces made by Picaflor.
Linnea Covington
click to enlarge Fresh eggs from McCauley Family Farm at the Union Station Farmers' Market. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Fresh eggs from McCauley Family Farm at the Union Station Farmers' Market.
Linnea Covington
click to enlarge Llamas are good guardians against predators that would otherwise hunt the sheep and chickens. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Llamas are good guardians against predators that would otherwise hunt the sheep and chickens.
Linnea Covington
click to enlarge Some of the pig feed is grown on McCauley's farm. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Some of the pig feed is grown on McCauley's farm.
Linnea Covington
click to enlarge Piglets at the McCauley Family Farm. - LINNEA COVINGTON
Piglets at the McCauley Family Farm.
Linnea Covington
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Linnea Covington moved back to Denver after spending thirteen years in New York City and couldn't be happier to be home, exploring the Mile High and eating as much as possible, especially when it involves pizza or ice cream.
Contact: Linnea Covington