Thistle and Mint: Denver's Personal Chef Experience by Jimena Peck

If you sit down for a meal and start to ponder the origin of its ingredients, it can become a convoluted web that is nearly impossible to untangle.

Fortunately, more and more people are becoming conscious of where their food comes from, and taking the time to understand native foods in their area. Thistle and Mind Food is a company dedicated to doing just that: They are a Rocky Mountain personal chef and catering service.

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They host everything from secret dinners to weddings, all the while showcasing Colorado’s exquisite foraged foods. I was so excited when the young couple contacted me about this shoot. I knew bringing their personalised chef experience to life would be a special project.

Based in Denver, Jarod and Olivia, the chef couple cooks exclusively with Colorado-based ingredients.

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Imagine hosting a private dinner party, with a menu item such as: Rocky mountain oyster pâté with buttermilk green chile, mustard greens and sumac on an oyster mushroom cracker! Their dishes and combinations completely blew me away. The level of creativity and care put into each item was unmistakable.

I am grateful for the intention behind Thistle and Mint. The more people interested in local farms, sustainable agriculture, and farm to table preparation, the better off our communities will be.

Thank you to the Thistle and Mint family for letting me capture your magic at work! I know it is hard working creating something so unique and eco-friendly. We have already taken more photos of their upcoming fall menu and rebranding.

The up-and-coming couple can be hard to track down. Their events tend to be exclusive, so stay tuned for the awesome new menu!

Native Hill Farm: The Veggies

Upon moving to Fort Collins, Native Hill Farm was one of the first local communities I became involved with. The very fact that the name of this farm comes from an essay by one of the most appreciated agricultural writers, Wendell Berry, made me feel like this was the place to capture the essence of the agricultural community that I had been in search of.

Native Hill is dedicated to providing high quality, healthy vegetables to the Fort Collins community which includes restaurants, bakeries, and families. Nestled where the Rocky Mountains meet the Eastern Plains of Colorado, farming in this region requires patience and “true grit”. As beginning farmers on the Front Range, finding land to call their own has been a struggle as prices are high and the right land is hard to come by.

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As of fall 2018, Native Hill and Poudre Valley Community Farms (a land cooperative) announced their partnership with a planned community in Fort Collins, Montava. It is centered around the last large tract of farm land in the city of Fort Collins. It is an exciting and amazing opportunity to for forward thinking minds to co-create a more sustainable future. In addition to the farm-centered planning, the new community will host energy conserving homes, affordable housing, raw water irrigation, and planned natural areas and parks.

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As the preliminary plans are being approved by city council, Native Hill Farm is busy working out the logistics of moving and settling in to a more permanent location. In past years, Native Hill has been unable to become USDA certified due to their short land leases. They have worked so hard on utilizing innovative growing practices (ex. passive season extension techniques, cover cropping, energy efficiency, and water conservation), they absolutely deserve recognition for their hard work and land ethics.

I am excited to see the direction Native Hill Farm is taking within this community, and support their transition in any way I can.