For Stem Ciders and Acreage cofounder Eric Foster, the idea of setting up an online grocery store highlighting local agriculture was the only natural response to a community in crisis. Acreage Provisions launched in mid-May and gathers products from both Stem and a healthy list of local contributors for online ordering. Patrons can select their goods, which are then packed for a Friday pick up at either Acreage’s Lafayette campus or the RiNo taproom. Framed from the company’s family meal — an 11-week program where all laid-off employees received fully-stocked, health-oriented meals throughout the duration of the furlough — Acreage Provisions continues Stem’s growth from cidery to one of the front range’s more exciting purveyors of clean local eating.
“These are just our friends and the people we surround ourselves with on a daily basis,” said Foster of the many contributors. Available goods include ciders, milk, eggs, cheese, whole chickens, fresh produce, meats, juice, wine, sweets and other essentials. “It was one of these cool ideas born out of the struggle of COVID,” said Foster.
Since Foster and Phil Kao founded Stem in 2013, the project has grown from a traditional cidery into a locus of community-driven locavore success. “I never thought about making cider until Phil and I met,” said Foster. Generated from drunken musings, Stem has continued to produce innovative ciders even as the project’s breadth has grown magnificently. “We came back and sobered up the next day and it still sounded like a good idea,” he laughed.
With the opening of Acreage in 2018, the company revealed the scope of its ambition, aligning itself with community stalwarts Kelly Whitaker and Daniel Asher. Eric Lee — one of the state’s more eco-conscious chefs — has remained at the helm, continuing to put the organization’s principles into viable, often delicious action. “We had outgrown RiNo very quickly,” said Foster.
Acreage Provisions launched both as a way for customers to safely acquire goods and as an outlet for local and artisanal suppliers to conveniently sell their stockpiles. “Tons of our food purveyors are sitting on food right now,” said Foster. Contributors include River Bear Meats, Wisdom Farms, Blanchard Family Wines, Sweet Bloom Coffee, On Tap Kitchen and roughly a dozen others. While the online ordering system arrived with a bang, Foster says the project has mellowed as patrons have become more comfortable going to the grocery store. Even so, the system is set to remain indefinitely.
Come spring of 2021, the Stem team has its sights on continuing the grocery concept, this time with a provisional outlet in downtown Lafayette. Set to act as a store selling similar goods to the online marketplace, the venue will also serve a lunch service with pizza and higher-end sandwiches and a Midwestern supper club style dinner, with daily family meals being created on a whim. Acreage Provisions will act as the brand for the group’s goods produced at Acreage Farms and sold onsite. “It’s going to become a more enriched brand itself,” said Foster.
In the meanwhile, Acreage has converted large swathes of its Lafayette property into one of the more intriguing socially-distant dining experiences in town. Establishing plots as “campsites,” patrons can set up picnic areas with blankets, camping chairs and other accouterments brought from home. They can then order cider and food from inside via QR code while enjoying the astounding view.
Acreage by Stem Ciders is located at 1380 Horizon Ave., Lafayette. It is open Monday – Thursday from 4:30 – 9 p.m., Friday from 3 – 9 p.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. – 9 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Acreage Provisions online store can be found here.
All photography courtesy of Stem Ciders.