Quinoa: Finding a field in North America

Quinoa was first sewn in North America during 1982 at 7,500 feet elevation among fields of potatoes and grain on the New family farm in Mosca, Colorado. Dr. David Cusack introduced the crop to Virginia and Ernie New and their son and his wife, Paul and Cindy after learning about their organic farm. He felt the toxin-free land in the San Luis Valley was ideal for Quinoa trials, which Dr. Steve Gorad made possible through the acquisition of a hand full of seeds. The first planting was harvested by hand, making way for years of trials that would test the adaptability of many Quinoa varieties and ecotypes from several South American regions, including Lipez, Bolivia and Cahuil, Chile.

Many of the varieties were too heat sensitive, required a longer growing season, bloomed too late to mature seed and never produced seed. The attraction, however, was how little water the crop used to grow, a valuable asset in a place where drought would strike and water would become scarce.

 

In 1983, Cusack joined with Gorad and Don McKinley to form a corporation that would market imported Quinoa while working to grow crops in Colorado with Dr. Duane Johnson, the New Crops Agronomist at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. Alongside John McCamant, a former assistant professor of the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver, Quinoa research on the Mosca farm continued for the next several years. McCamant's hard work and devotion produced an edible seed despite challenges from the San Luis Valley's harsh growing environment.

In 1987, the News and McCamant decided to produce Quinoa and other crops under the name White Mountain Farm on the existing property. Over the years, yellow, red, purple, orange, brown, black and white Quinoa varieties have filled the farm's fields. Thirty seasons of plant selection and organic farming continues to result in optimum flavor and texture, making Colorado Quinoa the amazing food it is today.

 

A century of organic farming

 

In 1913, Henry Stahl, a former Kansas judge, moved to the San Luis Valley to homestead in Mosca as a means to provide his five sons with a life rooted in rural tradition. It was a much smaller parcel of land that was home to cows, alfalfa and grains. Henry's wife, Tina, taught at the Stanley Elementary School, and their children were graduates of Sargent High School.

After graduating from Colorado State University, their son, Virgil, returned to Mosca to take over the ranch. He met his wife, Alice, while he was finishing his studies at Adams State University. Alice would also go on to teach at the Stanley School. They bought what today is White Mountain Farm in the mid-1930s, and raised two children, Virginia and Stanley.

Virginia married Ernie New and they began their life in Fort Collins and Denver before returning to Mosca to help run the farm. Virgil passed away a year after they returned.

In 1987, Virginia and Ernie along with their son, Paul  and his wife, Cindy, established White Mountain Farm. The new name came with more land and the introduction of a new crop: Quinoa.

Thirty years later, Paul and Cindy and White Mountain Farm Manager Fred Mason, Virgil's great nephew, continue to grow the farm and to offer their customers organic Quinoa, potatoes and summer vegetables. With help from their family and ongoing support from their children, Jennifer, Jessica, Kathryn, and their husbands, White Mountain Farm thrives season after season.  

Quinoa was first sewn in North America during 1982 at 7,500 feet elevation among fields of potatoes and grain on the New family farm in Mosca, Colorado. Dr. David Cusack introduced the crop to Virginia and Ernie New and their son and his wife, Paul and Cindy after learning about their organic farm. He felt the toxin-free land in the San Luis Valley was ideal for Quinoa trials, which Dr. Steve Gorad made possible through the acquisition of a hand full of seeds. The first planting was harvested by hand, making way for years of trials that would test the adaptability of many Quinoa varieties and ecotypes from several South American regions, including Lipez, Bolivia and Cahuil, Chile.

In 1983, Cusack joined with Gorad and Don McKinley to form a corporation that would market imported Quinoa while working to grow crops in Colorado with Dr. Duane Johnson, the New Crops Agronomist at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. Alongside John McCamant, a former assistant professor of the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver, Quinoa research on the Mosca farm continued for the next several years. McCamant's hard work and devotion produced an edible seed despite challenges from the San Luis Valley's harsh growing environment.