Brighton envisions bumper crop
City OKs plan for agricultural showcase, agritourism hot spot on 10 acres
brighton» On a parcel less than 10 acres, this fast-growing Adams County city hopes to create an agricultural showcase and agritourism hot spot that recalls a history disappearing amid the explosion of fresh rooftops filling in Denver’s northern suburbs.
On Tuesday night, the Brighton City Council approved a memorandum of understanding with a Westminster company that plans to grow crops, develop agricultural classes and establish an incubator/accelerator for businesses specializing in the local foods sector. The facility will be at the 9.6acre Bromley/Koizuma-Hishinuma Farm, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places at 1594 E. Bromley Lane.
Brighton purchased the farm in 2006 and saved the buildings there from the wrecking ball.
“It’s going to be a very visible piece of the preservation of agricultural land,” said Mark Heidt, assistant director of parks and recreation for Brighton. “As the Denver metro area has grown, Brighton has been able to preserve a lot of the open space in the area. To keep the farming on site here is key.”
The city of 37,000, approximately 20 miles northeast of Denver, has for years been purchasing surrounding farm fields and leasing them to farmers, providing natural buffers amid a seemingly endless collection of residential subdivisions. The city has nearly doubled in population in less than 20 years.
The initiative at Bromley/Koizuma-Hishinuma Farm would piggyback off an effort that has seen Brighton sink more than $5 million into buying land and refurbishing a main house, barn, migrant worker house, wash house and silo at the site.
“We’ve saved as much as we could out here,” Heidt said of the farm that was first purchased by rancher and former Colorado lawmaker Emmett Bromley in 1883 and later owned by the longtime farming Hishinuma and Koizuma families, who bought the property in 1947.
According to the public-private partnership deal approved Tuesday, the city will allow Local Foods Campus to operate the
farm for a five-year term, with the company sharing 7 percent of its annual revenues with Brighton. Nathan Mudd, co-founder of Local Foods Campus, said things will get started on the property in early 2017.
“This is more of a showcase for living agriculture,” Mudd said as a pink hue filled the late Tuesday afternoon sky west of the farm. “Here in Colorado, there is such a demand for all things local.”
And Mudd promises to provide that local flavor people crave, growing tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers on one portion of the property and establishing a 3.5-acre corn maze and a pumpkin patch on another portion. The property also will feature chickens and beehives.
Mudd envisions bringing school and FFA groups to learn hands-on about farming in an area that is home to a couple of agricultural heavy hitters — Sakata and Petrocco farms. The centerpiece of the operation will be the incubator for local food producers looking to establish themselves in the marketplace. Housed in a building dating back to 1896 and filled with original fixtures and intricate 19thcentury molding, Mudd hopes to “grow small local food companies into medium-size companies.”
“Authentic venues are hard to find,” he said of the historic farm.
Mudd, who owns the Westminster farmers market and runs the Arvada farmers market, credits Brighton for being a solid partner in a venture that he said could never have happened without “the dedication of government.”
His company’s partnership with Brighton comes on the heels of a less-fruitful relationship with Westminster, where two years ago Local Foods Campus had outlined an ambitious plan for turning the intersection of West 72nd Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard into a local foods node.
Plans to revamp Shoenberg Farm as an urban farm is on hold, although the company’s efforts to turn an empty 29,000-square-foot Albertsons grocery store in the Hidden Lake shopping center across the street from the farm into an indoor farmers market remain on track, Mudd said.
Adams County Commissioner Steve O’Dorisio said the Bromley/Koizuma-Hishinuma Farm project affirms the positive relationship the county has developed with Brighton to promote and preserve the area’s agricultural history. The development pressure the city and county face is exemplified by the vacant parcel just south of the farm, which is zoned for homes. A new subdivision there would quickly erase the natural buffer that now neatly frames the Bromley/ Koizuma-Hishinuma property.
That makes the effort Brighton is undertaking with Local Foods Campus that much more important, O’Dorisio said.
“We’re really trying to build an agritourism industry out here,” he said. “We want to keep this the bread basket of the metro area.”
A barn sits on the 9.6-acre Bromley/Koizuma-Hishinuma Farm, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places at 1594 E. Bromley Lane. Brighton purchased the farm in 2006 and saved the buildings there from the wrecking ball. Joe Amon, The Denver Post