When Miles and Emery Golson set out to build a homestead, they took the first small step with beauty and efficiency in mind.
It took a handful of visits to the sprawling 35–acre plot north of Fort Collins before Miles and Emery Golson noticed the address: Gratitude Road. “It was an epiphany. It just fits with our mentality,” Miles, a marketing consultant with a focus on sustainability, says. The young couple (Miles is 29 and Emery is 27) jumped at the chance and, along with Fort Collins’ HighCraft Builders, began dreaming up a house befitting the pastoral backdrop. The final result is a modern-day homestead with room to grow.
The farm—christened Shady Grove Farms for the Golsons’ favorite spot on the property—is more than just a home, it’s central to their passion: food, and food as medicine. “We’re passionate about healthcare and nutrition and we love the idea of growing our own food,” Miles says. Emery is trained in herbal medicine. Of the 35 acres, they plan to plant about two, run chickens and goats and eventually a couple cows, and leave the rest wild. The couple, who originally hail from Kansas City, will harvest what they need and donate the rest or sell it from a farm stand. Emery also conducts herbal medicine classes on the land.
The design of the house and the attached greenhouse perfectly meld with the Golsons’ holistic goals. The idea was to make it as energy efficient as possible. Even simple decisions, like the orientation of the roofline, had conservation in mind (it’s oriented to the sun to maximize passive solar heat).
The Golsons stress that Shady Grove’s working design extends beyond heating and cooling. “I’m talking about usage of space,” Miles says. “A lot of houses become fragmented and don’t work out with a flow of everyday life.” With only 800 square feet to play with, this meant trading a small living room for a larger kitchen (the couple loves to cook and can) and placing the washer and dryer in the kitchen where plumbing already existed. It is not by accident that the washer and dryer also sit near the entrance and around the corner from the master bedroom: “Working on the farm, we track in a lot of dirt,” Miles says. “When you get inside, you can throw your clothes into the wash on the way to the shower.” To keep the area aesthetically pleasing, the Golsons installed a counter over the top and turned it into a coffee bar.
The 480-square-foot greenhouse, which employs a sustainable permaculture design, allows the Golsons to grow food all year long, and ensures their morning green smoothies (and Thai-inspired cooking) are well provided for. Currently, the bounty includes kale, chard, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, herbs, calendula flowers, mints, lemon balm, kitchen herbs and three types of basil. They also have an avocado and olive tree. “It’s nice when we’re cooking to say, ‘can you run downstairs and grab tomatoes and Thai basil?’” Emery says.
In many ways Shady Grove functions as perfect little ecosystem but it’s also worth zooming out and looking at the big picture. In fact, the home on Gratitude Road isn’t a house at all—it’s a modern barn with upstairs living quarters. The downstairs serves as a large garage with storage for equipment, tools, cars, and a workshop.
“It’s nice when we’re cooking to say, ‘can you run downstairs and grab tomatoes and Thai basil?’”
“When we started the design we knew we were going to need a barn,” Emery says. “But we couldn’t afford to do [a barn and a house] and we had heard about stacking an apartment-style house on top of the barn.” In a few years time, the Golsons will build a proper house on the land and this space will become a place where others can live on the farm. While the name Shady Grove does indeed refer to their favorite spot, Miles points out that it also recalls an Appalachian folk song sung by many artists over the years. “We love that song and every time it’s redone, the song becomes what you want it to be,” he says. You could say as much for the homestead.
Already Shady Grove is expanding: Five weeks after Miles and Emery moved into their dream home in March, they welcomed their son Arlo into the world and brought him home to the little farmstead on Gratitude Road.