We Have Rocky Mountain Fresh to Thank for Spring Tomatoes

Walking through the Boulder and Longmont farmers markets in April and May is characterized by lots of greens, plant starts, and anticipation of the colorful produce that summer will bring. But, if you look closely, you might be able to spot glimpses of red, which – more than likely – will lead you to Rocky Mountain Fresh.

This farm, home to 2-acres of heated greenhouses, brings us tomatoes and cucumbers months before they would be ready in the field. And for that, we have Jeremy Marsh to thank.

Jeremy started as a backyard gardener, whose hobby slowly developed into a career when he invested in growing in greenhouses. The nature of greenhouses, especially in Colorado, resists the extreme seasonality of farming in a place that experiences all four seasons. While most farmers have an off-season that is used for planning, cleaning, and maybe a little rest, Jeremy and his team are almost always planting or harvesting. 

Walking into the greenhouse at Rocky Mountain Fresh you are greeted by rows of green. Depending on what season, you may be able to see through rows and rows of vines just beginning to reach skyward. But, just a few short weeks later, you’d meet a wall of green. Pollinated by a colony of bumble bees, the plants are grouped by variety, with many heirlooms in colors from red, to purple, to orange.

Jeremy says his favorite variety is cocktail tomatoes for their flavor and versatility. Other popular varieties they grow are cherokee purples and cherry tomatoes. Regardless of your preference, Jeremy likely grows something you like – focusing on a wide range of options in taste, use, and price range.

The plants are grown in ground up coconut husks that come in compressed bags that expand when hooked up to the greenhouse drip system – technically making it hydroponic. This means the plants are grown in a water-based system rather than a soil-based system. He has found this is beneficial for pest control and disease. If one plant is not doing well, it is easy to remove it without impacting surrounding plants.

If you exit the first greenhouse and enter the second, you will learn that Rocky Mountain Fresh is a family affair. Jeremy’s mother Shirley, cares for an assortment of succulents in an array of shapes and colors – many bursting with beautiful blossoms. This greenhouse is also home to Jeremy’s personal project: cactuses. 

Reaching over six feet tall, Jeremy says that some of these cactuses would reach nearly 20 feet in the wild. He propagates them with care, and sells both the succulents and cactuses, although not the 6-foot ones, at market.

Jeremy’s wife handles much of the back end of the business, but if you’re lucky, you might spot her alongside their daughter at market. Jeremy Jr., their 9-year-old son, can often be seen running the cactus and succulent section of their market booth – who, just like his father, has a strong interest in plants and can instruct customers on proper plant care. Spot an older man who looks like Jeremy? That is his father. With everyone in the family involved in the business, they have been able to put their brains together to continue evolving year after year.

They have expanded to grow lettuce, herbs, and a variety of other greens on a hydroponic system, the plants floating on top of nutrient-rich water. Many of these offerings will be available early in the season. Look out for cucumbers, lettuce, sorrel, chives, and tomatoes at the Rocky Mountain Fresh booth in Longmont and Boulder.

Later in the season, their small outdoor field will produce melons, squash, peppers, eggplants, and raspberries. Jeremy says they are considering building another greenhouse just for the succulents and cactuses. They are expanding their field space to have a slightly higher capacity than last year. Regardless of the incremental changes the farmers at Rocky Mountain Fresh make each year, they will surely continue to be a beloved face at the markets year after year.

When asked his favorite part of farming, Jeremy responded: “I think just watching the plants grow. I don’t know, I just love plants.” And that’s how we know we can expect April and May tomatoes and cucumbers from Rocky Mountain Fresh for years to come.

You can shop produce from Rocky Mountain Fresh at Boulder Farmers Market, Longmont Farmers Market, and Boulder County Farmers Markets online market.

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