For a decade, the fields at Pinello Ranch lay idle; now they are coming back to life.

“As we move forward to accomplish our goals, this is going to become a very busy place,” Denise Sulski promises. “They’ve built quite a legacy at (neighboring) Venetucci Farm, and we want to create a legacy at Pinello as well.”

Her fruitful story of revival made the perfect backdrop for Ranch Foods Direct’s fall manure fundraiser held at Pinello. Denise not only oversees the Project COPE utilities assistance fund, she and her husband Doug Powell are on-site managers of Pinello, where the sounds of the city fade within the oasis of Fountain Creek.

In additon to a flock of 100 chickens that will eventually grow to 300 (allowing them to sell eggs to the public) 15 head of cattle now graze the surrounding pastures. Next year, in April, they are planning a volunteer day to plant 3,000 berry bushes and 333 apple trees to add to the garden and orchards. Eventually they intend to open the farm to families interested in coming out to pick their own fruit. Denise would also like to donate a garden space to Care and Share Food Bank. Meanwhile, Doug, who is retired but works full-time on the farm, is busy installing a drip irrigation system.

The most iconic feature at Pinello is the hay barn clearly visible from the Fountain Highway. One of the first public events Denise instigated was an old-fashioned barn dance within its walls, where children and adults alike could kick up their heels amid the sweet smell of sun-cured grass. “I grew up going to square dances, and I loved it,” says Denise, who was raised on a ranch near Westcliffe. She also wanted visitors to experience the barn’s true rustic character, free of frills: “It’s country-like. It’s simple.”

The Pinello’s were a large family, and one that gave generously to the community, but they were also modest and their contributions are little known. Though a few of the original family members are still around, not much exists in the way of a comprehensive ranch or family history. Denise hopes to rectify that.

While the farm work is constant and vacations few, the couple are reviving Pinello strictly on a volunteer basis, just another among many acts of service. (Denise, who works full-time for city utilities, aptly oversees employee volunteering.) Explains Doug: “On my death bed, the thing I’ll be asking myself is, ‘Did I make a difference?’”

Life at Pinello Ranch includes gathering eggs and picking fresh raspberries surrounded by the farm’s historic buildings. For more info and a schedule of events, visit www.ppcf.org/Pinello.

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