When you hear the word “Timnath” what do you think of? Costco? Sweatsville Zoo? Bedroom communities? Established in 1882 and once a major railroad and agriculture hub before Greeley was even a town, Timnath has seen rapid growth over the past ten years due to new developments adding thousands of homes. However, heading north on Main Street don’t blink or you will miss the two blocks that make up downtown that have remained unchanged for decades.
Becca Bay is working to put downtown Timnath back on the map as once again as a community crossroads in Northern Colorado. Built in 1920, The Colorado Feed & Grain bundling has had a rich story, but only some of its chapters have served as a sense of community for the town of Timnath. Bay has set out to bring this sense of community back. The new CF&G Public Market is opening as a market collaborative where locally-made foods, beverages, artisan crafts and flexible spaces come together to create a hub. CF&G’s mission statement says it all. “Cultivating community through culturally responsible commerce”.
Main Street from the 1970s with grain building to the back right
Throughout the years, the building has taken on many different roles. It was originally built in 1920 as a grain elevator built for the Great Western Railway and Colorado farmers to house and store grain. The building, located right next to the railroad at Main Street, served as a huge agriculture hub for Northern Colorado making it the crossroads of the area for many years. Since then, the building been beloved and loathed as a town centerpiece for the citizens of Timnath. It continued to be a grain elevator until around the 1970’s when it was shut down and flipped into a flooring store. In the 80’s and 90’s the building became a restaurant. It began as a family place that served burgers and delicious sandwiches. But as the years went on, it became a popular hangout for biker gangs and transitioned to a dive bar at night. For a time, the building earned a seedy reputation. The citizens of Timnath, fed up with the noise and illegal activity, banded together and petitioned the town to pull the restaurant’s liquor license effectively, closing it down. The building sat vacant until Bay’s father bought the property in 2009.
Bay and her family did not know exactly what to do with the property. The plan was to clean it up and lease or sell it but before that could happen, the property caught fire in 2012. The fire was ruled an accident (an electric pole and a freak store). Bay and her family began to rebuild and reconstruct parts of the building. They imagined it for use as a restaurant and made sure to build in the necessary elements and hoped to sell the property once finished. Bay got her hands dirty alongside her dad and soon realized the full potential of the building and it became a labor of love. No offers for the building came and she presented her father with a business proposal to take over the lease and create a new type of space.“I saw a need, I saw multiple needs, one of them being the town doesn’t have a sense of community because there are few spaces that people can spend time together” Becca explained. From this point forward, she trusted the process and listened to what the community wanted, identified the problem, and set to work.
Bay did not always know she wanted to own her own business, but the innovative and new concept of a public market collaborative lit a fire within her. Prior saying “yes” to entrepreneurship, Bay was a teacher for eight years. Her love of teaching has transformed itself into a love of creating community. “I am a teacher at heart I feel, but the entrepreneur lifestyle really suits me” Bay told us. Bay designed the first floor to be filled with local artwork, pottery, body care products, cottage foods and other local artisan creations. There will also be a coffee cart opening in the fall.
The CF&G is a place to shop, to work, to hangout, and engage with the larger community. Bay wants to create a place for people to linger; imagine coffee shop meets co-working space meets craft and food market. “I want it to be more than just a grocery store, I want to make this a place you want to hang out, with a little bit of co-working and a little bit of food…a place to stay” said Bay. With a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains, the second floor of the Colorado Food and Grain is a place for the community to connect. This space can be rented out for parties, workshops, trainings, tastings, and more. Both upstairs and downstairs spaces are flooded with light with modern and historical touches to create a sense of beauty and functionality.
This past Christmas, Bay opened the doors to the public for a holiday market and family crafting night and also hosted some public meetings to help shape the mission of the space. CF&G will officially open in June with limited hours to start on weekends. CF&G is also hosting three Sunday farmers markets this summer; June 10, July 8 and August 5. Bay wants to simply get CF&G’s name out there; once there is traction and demand, the goal is to open daily. Timnath’s population has exploded over the past 10 years with residential homes, but most people simply pass through Timnath on their way to Fort Collins, Windsor or Greeley. The latest subdivision announced, with 600 homes, will be built several hundred yards from CF&G’s front door. She wants the Timnath community to have a sense of place and community that this there own. Besides CF&G, the new brewery Beerwerks will be opening up in other half of the overall building this fall. The mayor of Timanth as well as the residents have a plan for a new boardwalk style downtown. The CF&G will be located right in the heart of this.
In the next five years Bay says she would love to build a restaurant style kitchen inside the CF&G. Bay has visions of artisans having the opportunity to come in and test their foods and different types of flavors. Even holding cooking classes, wine and painting classes, Bay sees endless possibilities. CF&G is truly bringing back community to Timnath. “Trends on how people spend their time is changing, and at the end of the day no matter what is in these walls I want something that will benefit and be sustainable for the community” Bay told us. Bay has created an environment that encourages creativity, communication, and connection, especially around food. The CF&G is looking for artists, pop-up event coordinators and Cottage Food producers to be a part of the market. You can learn more about rentals and becoming a vendor by visiting the website: www.coloradofeedandgrain.com.
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