CRAFT Case Study: Horse and Hen Farmhouse Inn, Hayden

The Horse & Hen Farmhouse Inn is a bed and breakfast farm stay in Hayden, Colorado. The owners, Rachel and Ryan Wattles, aim to open their historic, 4-bedroom Hayden ranch to all travelers who want a charming and authentic Colorado country experience, connecting them to their food and land. 

Mentor: Sara Martinelli
Sara Martinelli, along with her husband, is the owner of the company Three Leaf Concepts, a Boulder restaurant group that operates 7 restaurants, a catering company, and an organic farm, Three Leaf Farm. Ms. Martinelli has a degree from the Univ. of Colorado in Anthropology and is a Certified Medical Herbalist. For the past 20 years, Ms. Martinelli has functioned as the Marketing Director of her company as well as using her herbal knowledge to create custom tea blends for the flagship restaurant, the Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. Ms. Martinelli now works primarily on the 10-acre organic farm teaching classes on herbal medicine, cooking, and other homesteading topics. Three Leaf Farm is located in downtown Lafayette, and provides organic produce for the Martinelli’s restaurants. Additionally, TLF offers Farm to Table Dinners and well as custom private events. In 2014, the Martinelli’s were inducted into the Boulder County Business Hall of Fame.

CRAFT Project Overview, Deliverables and Results:

The Horse & Hen’s Colorado Rural Academy for Tourism (CRAFT), formerly known as CRAFT, project focused on turning their family ranch into a sustainable and profitable farm stay. Specifically, they wanted assistance with finances, bookkeeping/taxes, minimizing liabilities, farm-to-table dinners (two in the summer of 2015), and holding workshops, possibly in the areas of homestead, canning, cooking, yoga retreat, kids farm experience camp, or an art workshop.

“One of the first questions Sara asked us is what our goals are and what we like to do. We quickly realized how many different directions we were trying to pursue and the importance of trying a few different things, but not too many. This delicate balance has been very important for us. Sara’s experience was invaluable in helping us realize that we don't need to "do it all" but rather do what we do well.”

Following Sara’s advice, Horse & Hen focused solely on their farmhouse, farm stay activities, and a small CSA/Farmer’s Market operation and collaboration with another local farm. 

Results To-date:

  •  A multi-year growth plan since completing the CRAFT program, Horse & Hen’s bookings have nearly doubled and they enjoyed a small profit last year. As time goes on they will continue to evolve their business to include farm to table dinners and classes. 

H&AG PR has secured covered in Edible Aspen, 5280 and the Austin American Statesman for the Horse & Hen

Words of Encouragement for Peers:
“Our business is a reflection of our skill sets, personalities, and fortunate situation (family ranch). It was a scary gamble to take but I think it’s important to do your homework than just dive in and go for it, trusting that it will all work out. It’s also important to leave plenty of room to evolve. Where we started and where we are now going are two different places,” Rachel Wattles.