Kerry Noonan, along with her husband Jason Beason, owns Rain Crow Farm in Paonia, Colorado. On their 10-acre parcel on the bank of the North Fork of the Gunnison River, Kerry and Jason grow about four acres of vegetables and flowers, raise goats and chickens, and nurture a habitat to attract local wildlife. Kerry is the mastermind behind the produce and flower production. Jason works full time as an ornithologist and moonlights as the farm’s cheese maker, tractor driver, potato grower, and handyman.
Since 2005, Kerry and Jason have built their farm and their family. Their son Otus was born just days before they moved onto the farm property. Almost three years later, their daughter Twyla was born. For the first five years of the farm’s operation, Kerry also taught elementary school full time. About five years ago, she made the transition to farming full time, but continues to teach part time in the winter. Getting to see her kids grow up connected to nature and to their food is one of Kerry’s biggest inspirations to farm.
On just a few acres, Kerry and her crew cultivate more than one hundred varieties of vegetables and flowers. Her favorite things to grow are also her favorite to eat–all those greens that are “so good for you.” Cool weather crops like kale, collards, and salad mixes do especially well in the microclimate of her river bottom land. She and Jason also love growing herbs like parsley and basil, calling their harvest time “aromatherapy.”
The success of Rain Crow is no doubt linked to Kerry’s enthusiasm, positivity, and culture of appreciation she brings to her farm. “I am so grateful for this farm,” says Kerry, as she diligently moves through her patch of kale, plucking the last leaves of the season. She can’t sing the praises of her dedicated staff any more loudly. “They are some of my closest friends. I would do anything for them because they have contributed so much to this farm and my family.”
Kerry’s fierce commitment to environmental sustainability and background in biology is evident in her holistic farming style. She takes pride in the wild nature of her farm. “I don’t want it super groomed. To me, that isn’t beautiful.” What is beautiful is the diverse ecosystem of plants, insects, and birds that help keep the farm healthy by pollinating crops and preying on pests. Rain Crow also relies on compost tea to boost plant health, composted chicken manure to add fertility to the soil, and a heavy dose of hard work to keep weeds in check. They also can count on their goats and chickens to bring things full circle, eating all the weeds and leftover produce they can give them. Rain Crow Farm follows organic growing standards and is Certified Naturally Grown. This means they don’t use any synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, or GMOs.
In addition to selling their produce through Farm Runners, Rain Crow Farm provides vegetables and goat milk products to local individuals. Their veggies and beautiful flower arrangements can also be found at the Crested Butte Farmers Market in the summer.