5280 Magazine

MEAT MATTERS

BRAD

Buchanan parks his gray Ford F-150 on the side of the dirt road we've been driving along, and we step outside into the brilliant February sunshine. Buchanan's farmland 8,300 acres in all unfolds before us in every direction as straw-colored, snow-patched ripples. We duck under a thin white wire of solar-powered electric fencing and walk through the slush toward a group of black wagyu-Angus cows.

We're at Flying B Bar Ranch in the tiny town of Strasburg, which, despite being just a 45-minute drive east on I-70 from Denver, feels as though it could be in Kansas. I'm here to see Buchanan's “rural experiment,” as he is fond of calling his regenerative cattle ranching and farming operation. At its most basic, regenerative agriculture is an approach that endeavors to increase soil health, retain water, promote biodiversity, and biosequester CO2 from the environment in the soil (trapping the gas from the atmosphere and storing it in the land and plants).

Although Buchanan looks comfortable in his cowboy hat, boots, and jeans, he spent most of his professional life as a suit-wearing, city-dwelling architect. Over the years, he became fascinated by the disconnect between urban and rural environments. “People go to King Soopers and get a chicken breast or a T-bone, but they don't know where food comes from. People are starving, literally and figuratively, for a connection to this place,” Buchanan says, sweeping his hand across the blue sky and open fields in front of us. It was that longing for connection that ultimately drove him and his wife, Margaret, to buy a ranch in Strasburg in 2006 and trade their Park Hill home for full-time ranch life 11 years ago.

The couple started raising grass-fed and grass-finished beef (meaning the animals spend their entire lives on pasture, eating forage and hay, as

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