Harvest Party

If you’ve been to the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies Harvest Party at Rock Bottom Ranch, you’ll know two things. The first is that it’s well attended. The second is that it’s well attended for a reason. It’s a hoot, especially if you’ve got kids. 

The ranch itself, with its pigs, goats, other livestock and absurdly scenic riverside acreage, is draw enough. Add in fun activities like cider pressing, pumpkin carving, hay rides and ranch games, plus a hearty lunch from Smoke Modern Barbeque included with admission, and it’s easy to see why ACES has to limit ticket sales to 1,400 (which always sell out) every year.

But don’t let the fun and socializing fool you. Underlying all the frivolity there is an important lesson to be learned about sustainability and taking an interest in where our food comes from. It’s a lesson that ACES seeks to impart all the time at Rock Bottom Ranch through ranch tours, kids camps, school programs and farm-to-table dinners, but this Saturday, Oct. 13, the lesson will take a back seat to having a good time.

“A study came out in the last year called Project Drawdown that made a list of the top 100 things we can do to reduce carbon emissions, from most impactful to least impactful,” said Jason Smith, Rock Bottom Ranch director. “On that list, 11 of the top 25 are food related – like dealing with food waste and moving to a plant-rich diet. The Harvest Party is a very, very soft introduction to those concepts.” 

To help get that message across and get folks more involved in the garden, this year the Harvest Party will be allowing people to take part in the ranch’s radish harvest, and there will be a pie-baking contest open to all types of pie. Not new but definitively upgraded will be a very eco-friendly silent auction to raise money for programs in regional schools.

“The fundraiser this year has gone completely green,” said Smith. “We’re trying to eliminate things, so the auction is more based on experiences as opposed to a backpack or something plastic.”  

Get more information and tickets – if there are any left – at aspennature.org. And as I mentioned before, expect a lot of people to be there, so absolutely bike or take one of the shuttle buses. Trust me when I tell you that you definitely do not want to drive there. That’s virtually guaranteed to turn the farm into an outright zoo.

Todd Hartley is the special sections editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at todd@aspendailynews.com.

Special Sections Editor