Progressive yet traditional; classic although contemporary; with a magnetic draw while having a taste of Wild West. Aspen is an eclectic mountain town unlike any other and while this unique place welcomes newcomers and out-of-box innovation, maintaining Aspen’s farm to fork network is what stabilizes and guides the sustainable growth.
One central branch of that value system for The Little Nell and Aspen is farm-to-table cuisine. Supporting regional agriculture is better for the environment, and the local economy benefits from the business. And overall, working with our neighbors creates a stronger community. At The Little Nell, our objective is to serve plates of delicious cuisine, make a positive impact, and develop long-lasting relationships.
Here is Aspen’s Farm to Fork Network.
To commence the summer season, the gardens of The Little Nell have expanded to include acreage at Emma Farms, which is located in the mid-Roaring Fork Valley and 20 miles west of Aspen.
Emma Farms is home to Wagyu cattle, a Japanese breed that is widely considered to be the best-tasting beef in the world and is the source of the American Wagyu Beef for Element 47. One staple on the Element 47 lunch menu is the Wagyu Burger with Gouda, onion straws and pickles, dressed in barbecue mayo sauce. Orchestrated by Chef de Cuisine Patrick Dunn, The Little Nell Gardens will produce and harvest both vegetables and herbs throughout the summer season and fall.
The lamb on the menu–such as the Element 47 rack topped with artichoke, arugula, and pecorino jus–comes from Rosen Farms. Rosen is a part of the only producer-owned and operated, vertically integrated lamb and veal company in the nation. The sheep breathe the fresh, clean mountain air and graze on a natural, indigenous diet of wild grasses, herbs and flowers topped with vitamin-packed grains.
Ela Family Farms
The central produce from Ela Family Farms–which is located on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains outside of Hotchkiss, Colorado–features peaches, apples, pears, cherries, and heirloom tomatoes. Better yet, the entire 99-acre fruit farm is organic.
At Element 47, break the morning’s fast with a mixed berry bowl or stop into Ajax Tavern after a hike for the Salmon Nicoise Salad (with tomato confit).
Avalanche Creamery & Haystack Farms
Both Avalanche Creamery and Haystack Farms produce artisan goat cheese in Colorado. Avalanche raises its family of goats on a farm in Basalt, Colorado while Haystack Farms creates its cheeses in Longmont, Colorado. For a taste, head to Ajax Tavern and order the cabra blanca goat cheese with rhubarb and nutty biscotti.
Eagle Springs Organic
Silt, Colorado-based Eagle Springs Organic operates a year-round production on 1800 acres and with state of the art greenhouses. Cultivating flavorful, organic fruits and vegetables is the farm’s art, and all the while, the ranch integrates progressive sustainability practices including solar panels, vermicompost, restorative cover cropping, and Integrated Pest Management.
Another small organic farm, Hillside Acres, is home to Colorado’s beautiful Paonia, from where Element 47 tables its own house-made preserves. The establishment has been growing produce for more than a quarter-century! Hillside hosts a stand at Aspen’s Saturday Market.
Abundant Life Farms
Produce from Abundant Life Farms is tossed within our menus. The family-owned farm is based in Hotchkiss, Colorado, and highlights vegetables, melons, berries, peaches, and plums. When the parents and kids aren’t enjoying the outdoors on a hike or bike ride, they are serving delicious fresh foods at the Telluride and Aspen markets.
From Raincrow Farm, the West Elk Mountains captivate your eyes on the horizon. The farm’s production line ranges from vegetables and herbs to flowers. Salad mix, carrots, beets, kale, chard, cucumbers, basil, spinach, radishes, leeks, and potatoes are the central servings alongside chicken eggs and goat milk.
In the southwest corner of the state, Alpenglow Farm has a unique focus: mushrooms. Founded in 2013, the farm grows varieties of oyster mushrooms which each celebrate particular tones, essence, and flavor. King and Grey Dove are grown in the winter and fall while Italian and PoHu are grown in the summer and spring. Element 47 is thrilled to integrate such delicacies into the kitchen’s creations including a paired short rib and oyster mushroom dish on the dinner menu.
Austin Family Farm
On the sweet end, Austin Family Farm–also in Paonia–produces honey. Two true pioneers, Glenn and Tony Austin, have nurtured the soils and developed sustainable growing methods since they moved to the mountain valley in 1970. To boot, the couple has seven generations of farmers behind them to fuel their farming dreams.
Closer to Heaven
Closer To Heaven Farms may hold the most whimsical name out of Colorado’s farms, but they also deliver incredible poultry. In Hotchkiss, Closer to Heaven specializes in dairy goats, roasting hens, and fresh farm eggs–the latter of which is used in the breakfast fares at Element 47, from the vegetable scramble to the Little Nell omelette.
Ken Forrester Wines
Ken Forrester Wines, further from the Valley, is referred to as the Home of Chenin Blanc. Their range of top-quality wines have received hundreds of accolades and awards with international and national acclaim over the last 22 years. The vineyards for these handcrafted, individually-made wines are held in the slopes of Helderberg Mountain, in Stellenbosch, which is the center of South Africa’s famous wine region. This summer, Ken Forrester will have his first foray into the U.S. with his Napa Cabernet, rated 94 by Robert Parker, which is on our wine list at element 47. On their way to Aspen from California are thirty more cases of this prized varietal.
Whether you and yours truly need a snack to fuel your next adventure or a long, conversational meal after a day of exploring the Elk Mountains, Aspen’s farm to fork network will not only nourish your appetite: From our neighbors to yours, these grown-with-love ingredients will fill your gratitude, senses, and soul.
View Aspen’s award winning dining options located inside of The Little Nell.