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Tour Redlands Mesa

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Photo submitted Lance Swigart's Garden is one of eight stops on this Saturday's "What's up on Redlands Mesa?" tour. The self-guided tour happens from 10 a.m.--4 p.m. and benefits the Redlands Mesa Grange.

If you've ever driven by and wondered, "What's up on Redlands Mesa?" here's an opportunity to find out. A group of artists, farmers, gardeners and others have collaborated to offer a self-guided tour of the area, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10.

The tour includes five farms and gardens, and three artist's studios. Participants will be treated to demonstrations throughout the day, including cheese-making, blacksmith forging, seed saving, kombucha making, potter's wheel techniques and three-dimensional embroidery. Spend the day, or just a couple of hours.

Tour participants will be able to tour elk, bison and alpaca ranches, see artists at work in their studios and take in the stunning views that Redlands Mesa offers.

From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Redlands Mesa Grange will host a farmers market featuring locally grown produce, and the fabulous cooks at the Grange will serve a farm-to-table lunch from 11:30--1:30, featuring a choice of elk, buffalo, alpaca, or vegetarian chili, cornbread, salad and dessert. After the tour, relax and enjoy "Happy Hour" from 4 to 7 p.m. at Jack Rabbit Hill Winery, featuring wine, cocktails and appetizers prepared by Chef Bill Frantz of Gunnison River Farm.

This collaborative event is a natural outcome of years of neighbors sharing their creativity with the community. Here are the places you will be able to explore during your self-guided tour:

Doug and Debbie Christner's Akuna Matada Suri Alpacas: where luxurious fiber becomes sustainable fashion. Come meet the alpacas and see all the items they provide, including fiber, leather, meat and manure for the garden.

Gini McNair creates pottery, fused glass jewelry and slumped bottles in her studio. Take a stroll through the garden and check out the "fence people." She will also give kombucha-making and wheel-throwing demonstrations.

Since 1977, Doug Fritz has created custom railings, gates and fireplace furnishings for homes throughout the Western Slope. Fritz utilizes old-time methods, often combined with state-of-the-art technology for his creations. His demonstrations of forging techniques throughout the day will be a unique opportunity to see an amazing artist at work.

Pat and Paul Frazier's Peace and Plenty Farm is an off-grid, diversified farm, perennial nursery, and micro-dairy homestead using biodynamic and permaculture practices. A variety of tough, drought resistant nursery stock will be available for purchase. Pat will also be giving a cheese-making demonstration.

In an area where organic gardening has been practiced for decades, Lance Swigart's garden is one of the most amazing in the North Fork Valley. Lance grows all his own grains, dry beans, fruits, veggies and seeds at 6000 feet in elevation, and without a greenhouse. He is also one of the featured experts on KVNF Public Radio's weekly garden show, "As the Worm Turns." Lance will be offering tips on seed saving throughout the day.

Colwell Cedars Retreat blends art and nature. At the studio of Katherine and Joe Colwell, learn about nature and art journeys for families and small groups, reserve the guest house, and marvel at views large and small during a hike through diverse ecosystems.

At High Wire Elk and Buffalo Ranch, Dave and Sue Whittlesey have been raising farm-to-plate, grass-fed bison and elk for more than 30 years. Their meat products are non-GMO and gluten-free (not fed grains containing gluten), USDA inspected, with no antibiotics, hormones, nitrates or MSG.

Step back in time at Lance and Anna Hanson's Jack Rabbit Hill Winery and Peak Spirits Distillery, where you can see a real still, sample tasty Jack Rabbit Hill wines, New Avalon hard ciders, Caprock gin, vodka, brandy and more. They will also host a happy hour following the tour, offering wine and cocktails, appetizers, and live music from 4 to 7 p.m.

The tour begins at Redlands Mesa Grange, 27953 Redlands Mesa Rd., where participants can register anytime between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., and pick up their maps, which include a list of all participants and complete schedule of events and demonstrations. Descriptions of the studios and farms featured on the tour are also included. Tour tickets are $5 per person.

Tickets for lunch are $10 per person, and happy hour, which includes two glasses of wine or two cocktails plus appetizers, is $15 per person. All proceeds benefit the grange.

Tickets are available online at www.redlandsmesagrange.weebly.com or at the Creamery Arts Center in Hotchkiss. More information is available at the "What's Up On Redlands Mesa?" Facebook page. For details, call Gini McNair at 970-589-3331 or email ginimcnair@gmail.com.

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