Yesterday a friend and I loaded the kids in the car and headed south into Colorado to visit the Nelson family's Top O The Hill roadside stand.
Hannah and I met the Nelson kids last summer when they trucked it 50 miles up the road to Cheyenne to peddle homegrown green beans, squash and cucumbers.
Falling in love with these kids was easy. They are good kids. They are full of life and interests beyond computer games and hanging out at the mall. They are polite, hardworking, and can upsell better than most car salesmen.
Most impressive of all is that these kids run the farm. From tilling to planting to harvesting to selling, they do the bulk of the work. Big brother Seth, barely out of his teens, is head honcho (we didn't get to catch up with him). The story is that his grandfather taught him the ropes.
Today, he and his siblings have a pretty good gig going at the crossroads of Highway 257 and County Road 82—a mile or two east of Interstate 25 in Fort Collins. The green beans, beets, carrots, squash, cucumbers, sweet corn, tomatoes, watermelon, Swiss chard, and cantaloupe—everything with the exception of the peaches—are grown at Top O' The Hill.
And what a view! You can make out Longs Peak and the Rocky Mountains through the haze.
We bought a huge box of peaches to slice and freeze and a half a peck of cucumbers that I'm staring at wondering how to lacto-ferment without raspberry or grape leaves (help!). Also bought some carrots and beets which I juiced this morning. So good.
Top O' The Hill uses no chemical fertilizers and offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you are not pleased with your purchase, they will replace it. I like that they get that the customer is #1.
The underpinning of the whole operation is old-fashioned integrity. These farmers strive for honesty and fairness in all their relationships, seeking in all things to love their neighbors as themselves.
I can only imagine the lessons these kids are learning. Lessons from the land, their parents, and the good Lord above. It is refreshing. They are reaping rewards in more ways than one.
To many, the Nelson kids may lead a humdrum life, tied to the farm and their work. But I saw self confidence and joy in their eyes. They have been given wings and know-how to make things happen. They are not waiting, nor expecting, the world to give to them but have learned the beautiful lesson of giving back to the land and fellow man.
And they do have fun.
Business got a little slow while we were there so cousin Nelson showed off another of his talents. Unicycling!
If you live in Fort Collins or are passing through, drop by Top O' The Hill. From I-25, head east on Mulberry a mile or two. You'll see signs along the way.
Seth encourages you to follow the farm on Facebook. He regularly posts about the crops they are harvesting. You also might enjoy the occasional video (like this one) he posts.
If you would like to find a farm or stand like Top O' The Hill, Local Harvest is a great resource. Support your local farmers—young and old!