Colorado’s Fruit Growing History

This class (video recording) was paid for in part by a History Colorado, State Historical Fund grant (Project Number #2018-M1-020). The content and opinions contained do not necessarily reflect the view or policies of History Colorado.

Class: Colorado’s Fruit Growing History

Purpose: Now mostly forgotten, or consigned to a few select remaining locations, Colorado had a significant fruit industry. Colorado orchards were first planted during the Golden Age of fruit development in North America. The great cultivar diversity then available, combined with the uncertainties of growing fruit in Colorado, pushed early orchardists toward bold experimentation. By 1900, Colorado had four major orchard districts with renowned orchardists, hundreds of varieties, and tens of thousands of trees producing millions of dollars of crops. Pests, development, and even success doomed much of the fruit industry. Learn the story of Colorado’s early fruit growers – what was here, what was lost, and what you can help save today.

Outcomes (you will be able to):

  • Name the original land stewards of what is now known as Colorado, and how the establishment of fruit orchards in Colorado coincided with the forced displacement of Native people.
  • Explain what brought European fruit growers Colorado, and why they chose to plant the varieties they did.
  • Recall when and where Colorado’s first orchards were planted, and by what growers.
  • List Colorado’s historic fruit districts and orchard periods, and describe a characteristic of each district and period.
  • Name a renowned orchardist from each district, and a fruit variety and/ or growing technique they were/are known for.
  • Relate the challenges faced by Colorado’s early fruit growers, how they met these challenges, and what we can learn from them today.
  • Discuss orchard restoration efforts in Colorado, and steps you can take to preserve its fruit-growing heritage.

Recommended reading: Colorado’s Fruit Growing History: Historic Context of Orchards