Member Profile – Colorado Edible Forest

Colorado Edible Forest
3961 County Rd 114
Glenwood Springs, CO 81601
(970) 718-2781

Interview with Vanessa Harmony, owner

Vanessa at CNGA Buyers Expo 2023

What attracted you to Glenwood Springs for your new business?

I moved my business to the Glenwood Springs area in 2019, but I started the business three years earlier, in 2016, in the Roaring Fork Valley. I moved my nursery to Glenwood Springs to have better accessibility for my clients and to have more space for growing. Moving itself was not too complicated since all of my nursery is containerized. Many plants were already growing and it was just a matter of moving the containers. The farm – Rivendell Farms – where I’m located is shared with others businesses and I rent an area of land. We are like a “big team” and share resources.

How did you come up with the name Colorado Edible Forest?

When I studied permaculture design while living on the East Coast, I was inspired by a concept called Forest Gardening. It reminded me of my experiences as a child camping and backpacking in Colorado at summer camp where I used to forage for edible berries while in the mountains. Forest Gardening is gardening like the forest with edible perennial plants.

What are your offerings?

The nursery sells fruit trees, berry bushes, perennial vegetables and edible groundcovers. I’m also interested in preserving local and historic or heritage fruit trees which produce fruit people find tasty. I preserve them through grafting. Currently, I sell the trees using the fruit description – size, taste and color – but hope to look more into the genetics so I can identify and name the cultivars.

What are biggest challenges for growing where you are?

The elevation is quite high—about 7,000 ft. There is a shorter growing season and there can be late frosts. A big challenge is the soil. There is not much organic material and it is alkaline. I’m also building a multifunctional windbreak to help with wind protection as well as to create habitat for critters to enjoy and be sheltered. Though we have no greenhouses at the farm, we may in a few years and we’ll be able to extend our growing season.

The nursery

What do you see looking ahead to the next few years?

So far, I don’t have employees. I hope to expand operations so that I can hire an employee or two. As I expand operations, I want to help educate customers more about edible plants, planting and maintenance. Plants are multifaceted and I want to continue to experiment with more edible perennial plants.

My motto is to grow food, build soil and nurture nature. Plants provide forage and habitat for all kinds of creatures, and growing food and working with plants enhances our connection to nature.

Why did you join CNGA?

I’m a relatively new member. After receiving the CNGA newsletter, I went to an event and enjoyed the networking opportunities. Then I was an exhibitor at the Buyers Expo in August 2023 which was a great platform for getting some visibility and making connections with other plant people. CNGA provides great opportunities to connect with others in the industry and also for education. I did an online education class I found useful.