Fort Collins, Colorado
Hello Modern Epicureans! We are excited to present to you another exciting local maker we have partnered with based out of Fort Collins, Colorado, Just Plain 'Ola. This company meets at the intersection of delicious and healthy, by bringing you "granola without the gran". Their gluten-free recipe will quickly become a favorite hiking snack or breakfast topping for anyone who suffers from a gluten allergy or sensitivity, or anyone, really! We love the taste and the idea of introducing more foods into our diet that are more wholesome and less grainy, especially local!
As with many of our favorite local makers, this company is operated by a married couple that cares enough about their product and getting it out to the people that they are building this company in the midst of working full-time jobs. We are so grateful that they are because we love their 'ola!
They sold their first batch to the public at the Drake Farmers' Market a couple years ago and the rest is history. Now, you can find them on the shelves at the Mountain Avenue Market, online at our store, and this summer they will be at the Larimer County Farmers' Market in Old Town every weekend!
Make sure you check them out and give them some love by following them on Instagram @justplainola, so you know where and when to find them next.
Chris and Hannah are both from the East Coast, but fell in love with Colorado at a young age. Apparently, it was a very natural move to Colorado after a job opportunity came into the picture and they have been here ever since. Currently, Hannah works as a middle school teacher in Fort Collins and Chris works for Habitat for Humanity, while they also run their food business on the side.
In their spare time, the couple used to hike and daydream about starting a business of their own that would use Hannah's creativity and cooking skills and Chris's business skills, as well as fulfill their desire to build something. Sure enough, the perfect business idea came to be after a family gathering a few years ago. When they returned, Hannah got to work on a granola recipe that would be irresistible.
After perfecting the recipe, more and more frequently, friends and family were requesting this 'ola, and so the business began. Soon after that, Hannah went to the Drake Road Farmers' Market to check it out and thought maybe it would be a good place for the two of them to try their hand at selling their new food product. They were given a spot at the market to sell that next week. In that time they had to get everything together from labels, to tent and table set up, pricing, and packaging. But they did it and their business was officially launched!
What They Make
At the moment, they sell three different flavors of grain-free granola made with a variety of different seeds, nuts, and spices. Their three flavors are: Original, Pumpkin Spice, and Very Berry. As they progress in this business they have hopes to expand their line of gluten-free products.
What Local Means To Them
They believe that one of the most important things about buying local is supporting local businesses. It really is that simple. If you support local businesses you are directly supporting people in you community. To them, and many people alike, it means that creative makers, farmers, and ranchers are able to stay in the community that they want to live in. That means a lot to so many people.
"As a community we are much stronger than we are as individuals."
Local Food Movement and Education
Hannah and Chris both agree that Colorado is flooded with an amazing network of people that bring an excitement about local food to the table. Though they say that just about anywhere you go these days you can find pockets of communities that work hard to promote local and live the locavore lifestyle, Colorado is a very special place, and they believe it has been very helpful in starting a healthy food company because of that.
It was exciting to hear from Hannah that the Poudre School District is making great efforts to get students more involved in growing and having a connection with food. Her school, in particular, won a grant to build an outdoor learning space so that students can work hands on with the soil and see the different agricultural processes like composting.
She said that there are many teacher-led initiatives happening that help connect students with local businesses and entrepreneur classes that focus on the needs of the community, as well as, leadership classes that discuss how we can support non-profits in the community.
"Doing something significant in the world doesn't necessarily mean doing it outside of where you live."
A very special aspect of this company's name and branding is where the inspiration came from. Hannah's Grandma's name was Ola. Ola inspired Hannah to explore the outdoors and to find beauty in the small things. Both Hannah and Chris want to honor Ola by bringing that same spirit into the company with everything that they do.
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