A historic dude ranch in the mountains of Colorado is using a high-tech container farm to broaden its focus on farm-to-table options for guests.
Having been in business for 102 years, C Lazy U Ranch in Granby has a storied reputation as a luxurious, year-round mountain getaway with 8,500 acres of land for a multitude of activities. The ranch’s culinary program is also well known for its ability to craft the perfect meal, and some of the fresh leafy greens that come with those meals will soon be grown on site in an automated Vertical Hydroponic Farm built by Colorado-based FarmBox Foods.
“We saw an opportunity with FarmBox Foods to essentially have a year-round farm-to-table option,” said Paul Klees, assistant general manager of C Lazy U Ranch.
Guests and members will have the opportunity to tour the futuristic, controlled-climate farm — based inside a repurposed shipping container — and see where the food they’re eating is grown. C Lazy U Ranch is planning to grow lettuce and culinary herbs inside the 320-square-foot farm, where the entire growing process, from seed to harvest, takes place. The sensor-based technology and insulation in the container farm are superior to greenhouses, which are susceptible to the bitter cold of the Colorado Rockies, Klees said.
Purchasing a Vertical Hydroponic Farm is “just another step in the ranch’s continuing effort to create authentic farm-to-table dining,” Klees said.
“There are economic aspects to it because we’re shipping in all of the food, including produce,” he said. “When guests eat at our restaurants, we want the meals to resonate with them, and what people are looking for is healthy, organic, fresh produce.”
The 200 horses on the property already benefit from C Lazy U’s sustainable approach to food sourcing; most of the hay they eat is grown on the ranch. C Lazy U is also supplied with water by its own spring and operates its own wastewater facilities.
The exterior of the container farm will be finished with a rustic scheme so it will easily blend in with its natural surroundings, which include a creek and historic structures.
C Lazy U began tending beehives last year, and Klees described the move as a “huge win” because both tours and ranch honey have become popular among visitors. The container farm is slated to be the next hands-on attraction at the ranch, where guests and members could have the opportunity to harvest their own veggies and prepare meals with a chef.
“It’s interactive, it’s educational, and it builds into our vision and mission statement of having a sustainable model,” Klees said.
Using Blackhawk Equipment for prefabrication, RK Mission Critical for manufacturing and assembly, and Absolute Logistics for transport, the container farm is scheduled for delivery in mid-August.