ARTICLE BY: Kali McCrackin Goodenough
PHOTOS BY: Kali McCrackin Goodenough & Peggy McCrackin
Sheila Bird Farms, an organic vegetable farm in Laramie, all started with a corral, a pumpkin patch, and a passion for farming.
“A friend of mine had a giant pumpkin patch in a corral outside Fort Collins,” says Ricky Kent, owner of Sheila Bird Farms. “After seeing the patch, I said, ‘Let’s plant the whole corral!’ and then the next year I said, ‘Let’s do a farmers’ market!’ And the rest is history.”
Ricky grew up growing, influenced in part by his mother who was a big gardener.
“I love growing and I’ve always had an interest in farming,” Ricky says. “It was the right time to start Sheila Bird Farms. I just got lucky. It all seemed to come together.”
Ricky was a carpenter for over 20 years, but farming is where his passion lies.
“If I was to do it all over again, I would have started farming 20 years ago,” Ricky says. “Farming is way more satisfying that building houses for people. A lot of the Sheila Bird Farms crew feel the same way. It’s taken a lot to build up our crew. It’s a big deal having people who want to farm.”
Sheila Bird Farms started in 2007 and in 2013, relocated to Laramie.
“Five years ago we had a mini drought in Fort Collins and the water system we were drawing off of was a domestic well,” Ricky says. “We were draining it dry and that’s when we started looking up here for property. Through a friend of a friend we ended up on Prairie Monarch Bison Ranch.”
Today, Sheila Bird grows on an acre and a half of land, including in two 30’x100’ hoop houses. The hoop houses have helped extend the Laramie growing season, making it possible for Sheila Bird Farms to do an early season CSA, a summer CSA, deliveries to local businesses, and to sell at the farmers’ markets. Sheila Bird Farms grows organic turnips, carrots, potatoes, kale, spinach, baby greens, micro greens, peas, garlic, cauliflower, broccoli, and more.
“Growing without pesticides and herbicides is one of my belief systems,” Ricky says. “It’s just a personal philosophy of mine. No pesticides and no herbicides is how we started out. We got the organic certification three years ago.”
Sheila Bird Farms was one of the first vendors at the Thursday Local Market when it started in 2012 and continues to be a favorite vendor for market goers. For Ricky, the market is a time to connect with the community and the customers who seek out Sheila Bird Farms’ vegetables.
“I like getting to see everybody that loves our vegetables,” Ricky says. “I think a lot of people who come to the Thursday Local Market want to talk to the people growing their food.”
This week, stop by Sheila Bird Farms’ red tent to chat with Ricky and some of the Sheila Bird Farms crew, check out their selection of vegetables, and perhaps take some home for dinner. The tasty organic vegetables are a great addition to every meal!