Colorado Sunflower Harvest
This is a quick story of where our sunflower oil comes from. Almost two decades ago, four families banded together and built the first sunflower mill in Colorado [and one of the only strictly expeller-extracted plants in the country]. They grew the sunflowers, partnered with other local growers, crushed the seeds after harvest, and pressed them for the oil – high in healthy fatty acids and vitamin E. Nothing went to waste, the crushed seeds became livestock feed for local ranchers.
Here are some photos from our last visit with our sunflower growers at Colorado Mills in Lamar, Colorado – a quick four-hour drive from Quinn HQ.
A shot from the road in Southeastern Colorado on our way from Boulder to Lamar.
Kristy with Doug Uhland, a Colorado Mills farmer-owner, talking sunflower growing practices.
Doug’s sunflower heads are heavy with seeds and ready for harvest.
From left to right: Zac (distribution manager), Doug (farmer-owner), Kristy, Kevin (marketing manager).
Doug hops back into the combine and is back to harvesting as we head to another field.
Down the road, the Lubers brothers’ second crop is still in bloom. Kevin points out a pollinator. By using little to no pesticides, beneficial insects are able to thrive alongside the sunflower plants.
Back at the mill, which employs 41 locals, sunflower seeds are unloaded, crushed, and expeller pressed – a completely Hexane [a petroleum-based solvent] free process.
Colorado Mills is a zero waste mill. After the oil is pressed out, the crushed seeds are turned into a high mineral high fat livestock feed for local ranchers.
Kristy throws on a lab coat and safety glasses to see the refining process up close with Colorado Mills general manager, Rick who joined in 2002 to help run the mill.
We’re so proud to have partners like Colorado Mills and can’t wait to work with them on new farm-to-bag ideas!