This spring, I had the good fortune of being asked to design and install some new directional signage for the Mountain Flower Goat Dairy and Long’s Gardens Iris Farm here in Boulder, CO. As some of you know, I’ve got the hots for urban farming in a real bad way, so as you can imagine, this project gave me a massive case of the giggle fingers.
Check out the photo journal below documenting every step of the project, and if you live along the front range, please come out to the farm during summer visiting hours. There are still baby goats jonesing to show off their Parkour skills, and the iris are busting out into color combinations the likes you haven't seen since your last trip to Mardis Gras.
STEP 1. Project Background and Need Assessment
Mountain Flower Urban Goat Dairy leases property for their livestock operation from Long’s Gardens, a 25-acre working farmstead in the heart of Boulder, Colorado. Long’s is an extremely well known Boulder institution, having occupied its current location on North Broadway since 1916. Locals and long-time residents of Boulder endearingly refer to it as the “Iris Farm,” though few are actually aware of how committed the Longs family is to preserving this parcel as a safe haven for urban agriculture through land parternerships with Growing Gardens, the City of Boulder, and now Mountain Flower.
The iris farm has always embraced a slower pace, and encourages visitors to take their time wandering through fields of flowers whilst gazing upon some of Boulder’s most idyllic Flatiron views. As such, Long’s hasn't been in a huge rush to update their signage, since a seasonal poster here and there was always a sufficient means of directing the iris patrons.
However, in 2012, as part of their commitment to preserving the heritage of the site, the Long’s family graciously agreed to house Mountain Flower’s herd of dairy goats in an original barn structure rehabilitated by dairy founders Taber Ward and Jonathan Vaught. News of the locally pastured and charismatic milking fauna quickly spread within Boulder proper, and with a noticeable increase in farm visitors, it soon became apparent there was a major need for some better signage.
The Long’s Gardens property is quite literally a haven for artists, designers, classic car enthusiasts, historians, and anyone else who appreciates good old fashioned hand forged Americana. Finding design inspiration here is quite literally the least of one’s worries. The 1947 Dodge Power wagon seen below was purchased by second generation Long's Gardens farmer, Ev Long to build the Skyscraper Resevoir. It's green patina garners countless caresses of affection from those seeking a window into the past.
A series of outbuildings still house remanants of their past uses while the paint peeled barnwood gracefully ages in the permeating Colorado sunshine. Its solid cedar core is weathered to perfection and will easily survive another century without intervention.
The goats of course lend an entirely new charisma to the property, but they too seem to understand that their existence is made all the more endearing a legacy J.D. Long began over 110 years ago.
Sophie is the Nigerian dwarf I chose as my muse for the goat silhouette on the Mountain Flower signs. The irony of using her likeness is that: A) she’s not a very good milker, and B) she has quite the notorious reputation amongst dairy staff…something I can best summarize as “a bulldozer with a diva complex.” Case in point, this is a photo I took right after I set out a new feed pile for the does, which Sophie promptly decided was better suited as her personal mattress. That move was instant cult hero status to me, so my best bet was immortalize her on ALL the new dairy signage. You do you Sophie...you do you.
Step 3. Schematics
There are two main entry points onto the property, the west entrance off Broadway, and the north entrance off Hawthorne. The purpose of the signs is to offer a point of direction for both the iris customers and the diary visitors. Making very simple easy to read graphics and using entity specific coloring was the best way to filter arriving patrons. Long’s Gardens has employed a deep emerald green for it’s print collateral over the years, and we decided to stick to a red-brown hue pulled from the trim color of the historic buildings for the Mountain Flower Signs.
Both parties wanted a series of interchangeable Open/Close signs to communicate the varied seasonal hours, and also opted to include literature holders that relay contact information and upcoming events.
To incorporate the historic nature of the property, the backing for the metal signage is constructed of original barn wood siding pulled from a surplus pile in one of the out buildings. The metal signs are printed on a ciated outdoor grade aluminum that will weather Colorado's conditions for quite some time.
Framing out the back entrance sign. The hardest part of this job is the one that I didn’t even do. Catherine and Dennis, the landowners at Long’s Gardens volunteered to dig the post-holes: (4 ) at 36” deep. While I try not to make a big deal about people’s age in regard to anything, let’s just say Catherine and Dennis both qualify for AARP…I do not. It is both extermely humbling and inspiring to try and keep up with them, so I'm looking to sign up for the next round of farm fit: introductory level.