It’s All About the Water

Since moving to Colorado I have had some serious doubts about my green thumb. I have killed a lot of plants and had several garden fails. I do include the ...

The Market Season is Upon Us

Some things are worth repeating. One of them is the schedule of farmer’s markets. Why, you might ask? Because now is the time. Drake Road Farmer’s Market was the first ...

Gettin’ Your Buzz On

Sorry for the post title. I couldn’t help myself. Yesterday was the day for bees in Fort Collins. I know of several folks who went to Copoco’s Honey to pick up ...

Latest News

Farmer Profile – Daphne Kinsley and Cameron Genter from Cresset Farm Dairy

 

Daphne and Cameron-webYesterday was a beautiful Colorado January day. Not too cold and not too windy. A little overcast but clear. A perfect day for a farm visit and tour.

I went to check on our community’s newest raw milk dairy, Cresset Farm Dairy, run by Daphne Kingsley and Cameron Genter. Having only just moved into Northern Colorado last August, they have made some impressive progress establishing themselves in the local farm community.

The late morning was spent following Daphne on a walking tour of the farm while she and Cameron did chores. Every minute counts right? During this time I learned that Daphne was raised on a farm in Upper State New York, and Cameron came from the Witchita, Kansas area. In 2000 they met on a California horse powered bio-dynamic farm where they both apprenticed. It was during that time that Cameron took an interest in draft powered farming and learned the ropes over the next three years, ultimately becoming the lead driver.

Daphne in the milk roomAfter that experience, and realizing not only would they remain together but farming was in their genes, they spent the next following few years farming across the country. A draft-horse farm in Maine, a dairy in Vermont where they learned dairying and cheesemaking, and then Wisconsin. It was in Wisconsin where they set down some roots, buying forty acres and spending nearly a decade building a wind and solar powered off grid micro dairy. So why would they leave a dream farm like that? Well, several reasons really. Some personal and some practical. As for the practical Daphne explained that while they created a nice small group of supporters and members, living in such a rural location that has a lot of homesteads and farms limits your development, as a community and a business. You can only grow so much and the size of the community is capped. So, they made the decision to move their family to the Front Range.

As we discussed community and sustainability on various levels, Daphne explained that it was quickly apparent that the opportunities here were much greater than those they had in Wisconsin. “The front range is more populated and there is a great educated consumer base, that understands the benefits of raw milk and how a herd share program works,” she explained “we can spend less time educating and can focus more on the farming.”

cows2-webAnd farming is just what they are doing. Their committment is the raw dairy, farming with draft horses and bio-dynamic farming. Which makes their location and partnership with Cresset Farm, a bio-dynamic farm, perfect. Their desire is to stay small. A micro-dairy, which runs ten cows or less at a time. Currently they are running six cows, with two to freshen in the Spring. They brought some of their herd from Wisconsin, where they were breeding Ayrshire/Jersey crosses. Having little knowledge of dairy cows, she explained the benefits of the milk in taste and texture with the Aryshire line, and that they were breeding for the A2A2 milk protein. This protein is complimentary for raw milk, and is believed to be better for those with milk sensitivities.

They were able to absorb some of the herd from Windsor Dairy to get them up and running sooner. Daphne expressed her appreciation that they were able to find cows that were bred for a grass based operation, since so many are now bred for grain consumption. The newer members are Tarantaise/Swiss and Tarantaise/Jersey crosses. And can I say the calves are adorable (and the male calves are available for sale). The closing of Windsor Dairy also helped them to grow quicker than anticipated, from 40 members to 100, as many customers were referred to them.

And while dairying is the center of the farm right now, as is grass farming on their leased twenty acres in order to feed the cows and horses, there is a greater vision at work. That vision is to create a sanctuary for the community. A community of farmers. In the future they wish to incorporate education, events, festivals and the like.

draft horses 2-webAfter checking out the herd, the milking barn and the milk room, we then went to check on Cameron and the draft horses. As the winter months tend to be slow work months for the animals, it’s important to exercise them and remind them how to work. Like folks on a Monday morning after a nice relaxed weekend, they can forget how to work and can get a little spunky transitioning back to their job. Cameron hitched them up to the sled and we took a ride through the fields, with an amazing view of the mountains, and got them warmed up for chores. Chores consisted of moving round hay bales into the winter paddocks for the cows.

moving hay-webIn Wisconsin, Cameron explained they bred their own replacements. We discussed how every animal on a farm needs a purpose, and draft horses definitely provide a purpose. Especially when one doesn’t use tractors. Having been close to Amish communities in the past, they were lucky to find folks who understood working with horses and opened the door to all sorts of related equipment. Once the sled was unhitched it was time to hitch up the bale mover. If you have never had the opportunity to watch someone drive draft horses, I recommend it highly. It is impressive watching man and beast work in unison. The relationship and communication is an experience to see.

If you have an opportunity, please welcome the new folks to the neighborhood. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing them around for quite some time. Lucky us!new calf-web

 

 

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email

Big News!!!

I appreciate everyone’s support of my cryptic messages about big things in 2015! And no, I’m not pregnant, or getting llamas (yet), or quitting my day job (another yet). But I am launching a new project. One that will need your support!

imageI’ve been writing Farming Fort Collins for nearly two years. I love it, and don’t worry, it’s not going anywhere. During that time I’ve watched the numbers of readers expand greatly, launched a newsletter, and have become a part of the community I live in. And through your feedback and questions, as well as the popularity of the newsletter, I’ve identified some gaps in our local food system. Mainly the gap of reliable information.

In researching for Farming Fort Collins I’ve experienced first hand the frustration with incomplete and unreliable information when searching for local food producers. There is so much information out there, whether online or in print. The more I learned about all the wonderful producers in our community, the more I saw how frequently many of them were missing in the available directories, even from some of the best sources. That doesn’t work for the farmer or the consumer. The old “if you build it they will come” mentality isn’t enough. Customers need to know the producer is there in order to support it. Currently the state of our food source directories are more like “out of sight out of mind”.

It got me thinking. I love providing information to folks. Connecting them to what they are looking for. Turning folks on to the magic of local food. That’s what the Scoop Blog Network is all about, right! Connecting you to everything of value in your community. Well, what if there was a way to provide curated information to folks. Information that doesn’t rely on a large number of people to post it, but rather relies on a small number of folks to find it, verify it, and present it in a way that is user friendly to search for exactly what you’re looking for. Want grass-fed/grass-finished beef in small amounts? Looking for a year round CSA share that drops off within 10 miles of your home or work site? Maybe one that delivers to the home or office? Do you know where to order your local organic raised turkey for Thanksgiving? An egg share? Etc, etc, etc.

Coming this spring just such a thing will be available to Northern Colorado, and Colorado as a whole later this summer. That thing is The Pig and the Plow: a farm and ranch directory to the freshest food near you! I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. The website will be available on a subscription basis (just $25 a year!), and created with the best search features available today! Every farm or ranch that engages in direct sales to the public will be listed, along with comprehensive profiles of their operation and available products. The best feature, is we do the homework for you! Ensuring information is up to date and easy to find. Our goal is to make buying and eating locally easy!

The blog and newsletter will also be expanding into a bi-monthly digital magazine for subscribers of the directory, bringing you even more information about local ag, expanded farm profiles, an extensive community calendar, recipes and more.

The added benefit for the farmers is that we will be making sure you can find them. They won’t have to worry about posting their information or finding us to participate in the website. It’s our job to find them and build an ongoing relationship with them. We want to stay in the loop about what’s happening on their farm. What new products or delivery options are available. The goal is to also provide them an e-commerce platform by the end of the summer so they can sell to you directly while providing them the technical support they need to do so. Why is this important? Because they deserve the luxury of focusing on what they are best at, growing food, without having to worry about whether or not the website crashed during peak season or did they remember to update the new prices or pick up locations.

To get this project off the ground it needs community support! I’ve already got a database of the farms and ranches in Northern Colorado (email me at Erica@farmingfortcollins.com to make sure we’ve got your farm or ranch in the Directory). There are a team of nerds getting started on the building and programming of the website. We just need the last bit of funding to finish the project up and have it ready for launch for May 2015.

That’s why we will be launching a funding campaign next week that will go through February with our local friends at Community Funded. Several farms supporting the new directory have donated a boatload of great rewards as an incentive for folks to support the Community Funded campaign. Everything from tickets to farm events, farm school for kids, locally made items, sampler shares for folks to check out local farms and even a year long medium sized vegetable share! Included with every local donation over $15 is an inaugural year’s subscription to The Pig and the Plow!

One question you may have is why will the site be subscription based? That’s easy. Because information needs to be sustainable too. Many of the free sites place the cost of doing business on the businesses they are trying to support or through advertising. We don’t want to inundate folks with ads of stuff they don’t want or need. (I’d pay facebook to leave me alone! Didn’t I join to connect with family and friends, who I barely see anymore because of the ads. Yuk) We want to spend our time supporting our local small farmers and ranchers. We didn’t want to see participation and listings dependent on farmers paying to be included. The goal is to have the most comprehensive listing of farms available. Pay for listing doesn’t help us reach that goal. Hence, a subscription service that is super affordable, as well as membership levels for farmers that provide additional support and sales platforms for them. It spreads the costs among everyone, inevitably keeping the costs lower for everyone. Thus, it is self supporting and sustainable!

So, with that I invite you to support local farmers and the building of a stronger local food economy through this project! The CFC campaign will be launching within the next two weeks and will be live for 30 days. Links to the campaign will be sent out as soon as it’s live. Jump on the opportunity to get your discounted membership during this time, let your friends and family know about it, and share the love for your farmers and ranchers!

***Special thanks to the folks who are supporting this campaign through their amazing donations! Big thanks to Happy Heart Farm, Grant Farm CSA, Laughing Buck Farm, Shire CSA, Old Dern Farm, Cresset Farm, Sweet Roots Festival, Briar Gate Farm, The Scoop Blog Network and extra thanks to Nicole of Friendly Critters Farm for rallying the troops!!!

Stay in the loop by following The Pig and the Plow on facebook, https://www.facebook.com/thepigandtheplow

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email

Mini recharge break!

Hey folks, I’m getting ready to be completely unplugged tomorrow through Monday. Looking forward to a little downtime to recharge the old batteries and get ready for a big announcement coming your way on Tuesday! So there will be no post on Sunday and no social media presence during this time. But don’t you worry, I’ll be coming back with a bang on Tuesday with the next FFC post.

Until then, have a great weekend.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email

Diggin’ It

Winter Farmers Market at Opera Galleria

Winter Farmers Market at Opera Galleria

There are a couple events coming up in February that are worth taking note of.

On Friday, February 20, the NoCo Food Cluster will be partnering with USDA/NIFA Regional Rural Development Centers and CSU Extension Services to bring you a policy and grants workshop. These partners will host a Northern Colorado local, state and federal food policy and program update: including a farmer’s market, local food promotion and a USDA grant writing workshop from 9:30 to 2:30 pm at the Greeley Recreation Center, Room 101C. This event is great if you’re a Farmerr, rancher, producer, ag organization member or a member of the broader public that is interested in learning about applying for a variety of food system grants. Food Cluster partners will be invited to engage in a discussion about a potential regional Community Food Projects proposal. RSVP by February 16!

Then, on Saturday, February 21, there will be a CSA Fair at the Opera Galleria in Old Town Fort Collins. If you’ve thought about getting a CSA share before, this is a great opportunity to meet a variety of farmers and ranch that provide some amazing food to the local community. Learn about community supported agriculture and it’s benefits and how you can find a CSA membership that will work with your families needs. Stay tuned for fair hours!

 

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email

A pending Farm to School Bill in Colorado

logoThe Colorado Farm to School Task Force has been promoting ways to increase fresh and locally sourced food in school cafeterias. As a result of their efforts several challenges were identified. One such challenge is that there aren’t enough local producers in the market to support the demand of school food services. That’s where the new bill proposal comes in.

Two deficiencies identified for local producers to enter the market are food safety, which incurs costs to the producers, and competitive pricing. Most of the local agricultural producers are small to mid size. As a result they often don’t have the budget to meet increased safety requirements, nor do the have the volume to compete against larger and global food producers when it comes to pricing.

So how will this new bill help bring more locally sourced food into school meal programs? The bill will create a Grant program that local agricultural producers can utilize in two ways in order to enter the market. Colorado producers will be eligible for grants to help cover the costs of labor, food safety materials and equipment, and other production costs that will help them to sell their products to local schools.

The program would exist for five years, funded at $1 million dollars a year. Check out this great article from Healthier Colorado on the topic and read more about the bill here. Learn about how you can support this bill! Sign the petition here!Healthy Snack

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email

Traveling

Traveling today! I’ll get my next post up as soon as I can! Have a wonderful day.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email

Food 3.0

On January 22, the Denver Business Series, with sponsor Johnson and Wales University, is hosting an evening panel, Food 3.0: Emerging Opportunities in Production, Distribution and Consumer Demand. The panel discussion will focus on the growing demand for things like local, gluten-free, raw, paleo, nut-free, natural, and organic.

Information on the event identifies that Americans spend roughly $1 trillion on food annually. Eight percent of that is spent on natural and organic foods, with growth expected to grow at 14% by 2018. That’s a lot of room for emerging and non-traditional business models to meet the demand.

Panelists include Brian Freeman, CEO of Grower’s Organic; Blake Waltrip, CEO of Ancient Harvest; Alan Lewis, Director of Food and Ag policy and Gov’t Affairs at Vitamin Cottage; and Bill Shen, Director of Encore Consumer Capital.

The event starts at 5:30, with an opportunity for networking, panel starts at 6:30 followed by a cooking demonstration. The event will be held at Johnson and Wales University, 7150 Montview Boulevard in Denver. Tickets are $30 in advance and increase to $35 on January 16.

Learn more and Purchase tickets here.

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email

We have a winner!!!

 

2014 giveawayThis giveaway started last year. We had no idea that it would get as big as it did. We had so many fantastic businesses offer to contribute items to create an enormous prize pack for one person; it was a blast to put together.

This year was even bigger and better.

36 local businesses each added something special to the giveaway which would allow one person the opportunity to experience our city at its finest – a way to truly celebrate Fort Collins. That lucky winner was chosen at random last night, and thanks to Horse & Dragon’s suggestion, the winner will share photos of all of the fun things we have to eat, drink, and do in the Choice City.

That lucky winner is Liz Atwood! Congratulations!

A very big thank you to all of the readers who participated, who checked out the other blogs in the network, and who shared the news of our epic contest. There were a lot of great suggestions in the feedback segments and we’ll be putting them to use in this new year!

And, a huge thank you to the businesses who contributed to the prize list. It wouldn’t have been the mother load that it was without them! If you happen to check them out because of this giveaway, please let them know! I’m sure they’d love to hear that.

We can’t wait to see what next year’s giveaway may hold!
1.Matador Mexican Grill
2.Cohere Community
3.The Second You
4.Higher Ground Rehearsal Studios
5.Next Door Food & Drink
6.Prima Body Wear
7.A Place For Grace
8.Horse & Dragon Brewery
9.Kids Town Drop-in Childcare Center
10.Amy Morgan, cellist from Post Paradise
11.Spice & Tea Exchange
12.Merle Norman
13.Uncle Andy’s Jerky
14.Krazy Karl’s Pizza
15.Nuance Chocolate
16.The Fox and The Crow
17.Monique Renee Photography
18.All Star Cleaning Services
19.Larimer County Natural Resources
20.Lori Radcliff – Stella & Dot
21.Rollerland
22.Magic Bus Tours
23.Decibullz
24.Blue Skies Winery
25.Pateros Creek Brewery
26.Dezel Shallenberg, RMT
27.A-Maize’n Kettle Corn
28.Allison Ziraldo, health coach
29.Jason Speciner, CFP with Long Green Planning Group
30.Kansas City Kitty
31.Fly High Trampoline Park
32.Pinball Jones
33.Nancy Bond Insurance
34.St. Peter’s Fly Shop
35.Krav Maga Institute
36.Butter Cream Cupcakery

 

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email

Breaking bread

I hope everyone had a great holiday week. I can’t believe it’s Monday tomorrow. Back to work already.

I write a lot about where to find great local food. But finding great food is just a part of the deal. The true beauty is in the eating. The holidays for me are all about sharing a wonderful meal with family or friends. I’m really lucky if it’s both. There is something deeply profound in feeding people. When you invite someone into your home. Break bread with them. It inspires laughter and conversation, and a certain thoughtfulness. A deeper connection is likely created by the end of the meal.

Today was just one of those days. I’ve felt the itch to cook for a group lately. It happens for me more so in winter. I guess it’s the New Englander in me. Making the long days a little brighter. Unfortunately, fresh local food is on the limited side if one doesn’t plan in advance (like the Winter Farmers Market!). But I made do with what I had and what I was craving.

435I woke up at 6:30 and got to work on a menu I threw together in the last day or so. Doing all the work ahead of time allows me to share the meal and enjoy the company rather than continually fussing in the kitchen. I recently read A Christmas in Paris, about a gentleman from Australia that married into a French family and took over cooking the Christmas meal for a large family. So in reading that, there was a wonderful description of the traditional pavlova of Australia, I knew I needed to make that for dessert. So at 6:30 I began separating eggs and wisking away. I decided it needed to be filled with a little sunshine, so once the individual pavlovas were in the oven, I started on a lemon curd.

433While both the curd and pavlovas were chilling I put a rib eye roast in the oven. The plan for the meal, simple and unfussy but tasty finger food. The roast would be cooled and sliced thin along with a small smoked ham. Pair that with some aged cheddar and fresh baked bread, horseradish and mustard and you having serious sandwich fixins.

Spread out with some cheeses, fruit salad, pear and gorganzola toasts, fresh cut veggies and olives, we were cookin’ with gas. Seven girl friends showed up with some homemade soups and additional sweet treats. The best part, there was nothing else to do but fill up on some wonderful food and spend time with people I adore.

When my husband and I thought about buying a farm, before we found it, we pictured a place where friends could gather. A place where we could share our bounties and blessings. A place folks could come and share a sense of fellowship. Sitting with some of my close friends, sharing a few hours of laughs and stories, eating a meal I spent a wonderful morning preparing, offered me a moment to reflect on how that vision had materialized. For that I am grateful.

With the New Year upon us, bringing with a time of reflection and resolutions, my wish for you all is that your table is loaded, your belly and soul are full, and you share the year with wonderful people. Really, what else is there.

 

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email

Where are you buying your seeds??

imagesX5JLLMJGI bet it’s about that time where the mailbox starts filling up with seed catalogs. And with that, dreams of your summer garden. What new varieties will you try? do you like heirlooms? Hybrids? Standard seeds or non-gmo? Whatever your preference there are some great options. Here are a few of my favorites.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

This is truly the mother of all seed catalogs. It’s a favorite wintertime wish list catalog. Gorgeous pictures, huge variety, and all seeds are non-GMO and many are rare. Jere Gettle started the company when he was aroung seventeen years old and has made it his mission to find and preserve heirloom seeds and maintain bio-diversity. 150 farm partners farm the seeds available in the catalog and they conduct regular testing to ensure they have not become GMO contaminated. You can receive a free catalog by request online, order online or this year they launched The Whole Seed Catalog for purchase, available in many locations from bookstores to garden centers. Both are amazing. If you are a seed saver, these seeds are a great bet. You can also save the trees by viewing their stock online.

Seed Savers Exchange

This company has also long been a favorite. I admire their commitment to seed savers across the world and their ability to locate family heirloom seeds and bring them back into commercial production. Again, if you are a seed saver, these are great. Your one time investment has the potential of providing you with a garden for a lifetime. They have become more readily available, even found in Walmart, and have ranched into other arenas like packaged food. I hope this doesn’t dilute the attention on what they do best. Preserving seeds species. They offer a free catalog and online purchasing. If you need some great winter reading, try Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver by Dianne Ott Whealey, founder of the organization.

imagesBRR9UZLOHigh Mowing Organic Seeds 

These guys carry 100% organic, non-gmo seeds. Based out of Vermont they grow, and work with other farmers to grow, the seeds available in their catalog. You’ll find vegetables, herbs, flowers and cover crops. They have a mailer catalog or you can download it from their website. You can also find their seeds at Bath Nursery in Fort Collins.

The Cooks Garden

They have a decent heirloom and organic seed variety. They also have a good herb selection. Always a good option and offer a free catalog or online purchasing.

Botanical Interests

These seeds are available at many of the garden centers in town. They offer a decent selection and have heirloom and organic varieties. They also guarantee that their seeds are non-GMO. You can order a free catalog or to save trees download a pdf version of the catalog. You can also order online, or as I said, visit one of the local garden centers that carries their seeds.

imagesJIHT8V9TPawnee Butte Seed Company (Local)

If your looking to restore your pastures or plant native grasses, forbs, shrubs or cover crops, Pawnee Butee offers a good selection. All the items available are proven for the Colorado climate.

Western Native Seed (Local) 

Western Native specializes in seeds of species native to the Rocky Mountains and Western Slope. They offer a variety of wildflowers, grasses, trees and shrubs, wetland varieties and seed mixes for your particular geographic locale.

This list is definitely not exhaustive. It is however a great place to start. Happy dreaming!!!

Facebook Twitter Pinterest Email