Farming history of Fort Collins uncovered, Pioneer Living Day

Sam Sedoryk

Woman stands in front of old home
LeeAnn Bee, a volunteer at the Centennial Bee Farm, stands in front of the well-preserved 1864 home. This is the original structure that the Bee family first settled and grew up in in Northern Colorado. (Brooke Buchan | Collegian)

Many Fort Collins locals already know the significance of agriculture and the impact it has on the community. For those who aren’t familiar with just how deep the roots of agriculture are planted in Fort Collins, the Bee Family Centennial Farm Museum held Pioneer Living Day this past weekend, which celebrated their 125th anniversary as well as the agricultural history of Northern Colorado. 

The Bee Farm’s Pioneer Living Day event reminded Northern Colorado residents of the importance of agriculture and how it was the starting ground for many families. Fort Collins has a long history of being a farming community, and it’s often forgotten. However, historic sites like the Bee Farm help people remember its humble beginnings.

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“We’re city folk, and my kids love to see everything,” said Laura Lohse, a visitor at the Bee Farm. “We drive past cornfields all the time, but now we can actually look at where crops are planted. It’s been fun to see everything up close and personal.”

The museum held a variety of demonstrations that explained life as a farmer, like milking a cow, spinning wool and miniature hay stacking. To keep things interesting, Pioneer Living Day also included activities like dress-up photo booths and tractor rides around the farm.

It’s a beneficial thing to understand the history, and the closer you get back to nature the better.” – Richard Harrison, owner of the Bee Farm Museum.

The Centennial Farm Museum isn’t your average walk-through gallery or exhibit. The farm grounds of the museum are adorned with vintage cars, farm animals and historic agriculture equipment. It also includes interactive exhibits that show how irrigation works and all the different types of food that can be grown in Colorado. 

Farm owners Elizabeth and Richard Harrison run the farm along with other family members. The farm has been in their hands for generations, and they focus on educating visitors about agriculture history. 

“We find that especially that the younger generations have not been exposed to how to make a living off the land,” said Richard Harrison, owner of the Bee Farm Museum. “Most people don’t realize your food comes from these types of farms. We try to educate the people of agriculture.”

This museum has a handful of volunteers to help run it along with Colorado State University’s History Club. 

“It’s fun to learn about the agriculture,” said Kara Schlander, the treasurer for the CSU History Club. 

The Centennial Bee Farm is a family-owned farm that dates back to the 1800s. Over the years, they acquired 160 acres of land but sold 140 for conservation to Colorado State University. This historic farm is operated as a nonprofit that focuses on providing education for CSU students and residents about the much-overlooked agriculture history. In 2002, the farm was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The museum is open to the public Friday & Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. through October.

This capsule of land has demonstrated how much agriculture provides back to the community for over 100 years. 

“It’s a beneficial thing to understand the history, and the closer you get back to nature the better,” Harrison said. 

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Sam Sedoryk can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or twitter @samsedoryk.