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 ...

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For the love of eggs…

308If you’ve never had fresh farm eggs I would say you are really missing out. Even free-range, happy chicken eggs from the store have sat in refrigeration for some time. While they are definitely better than the large corporation eggs, I stand firm that fresh eggs, within a day or two of being laid, are the best!

There is just one problem with eggs so fresh. They don’t make very good hard boiled eggs. And nothing beats hard boiled eggs for breakfast on the run or a quick protein boost. Raising chickens is definitely a passion. I love the little crazy birds. And fresh eggs, with their insanely orange high standing yolks can’t be beat. Rarely do we have eggs that age to any degree. And for hard boiled eggs, aged eggs are better than fresh, if you want them to peel well.

Being a cookbook/recipe fanatic, I set out to find the perfect process for hard boiled fresher eggs well. Luckily I had this hidden gem of a process in one of my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong. It worked great and the eggs weren’t smelly, discolored or hard to peel.

Basically. as eggs age they lose moisture, thus creating more air between the inner and outer membrane. When you boil a fresh egg there isn’t mush of an air pocket, which means you end up peeling half the egg white away with the shell. Following this practice below, you can move that process along a bit with baking soda. Baking soda?? Yup. Baking soda. It draws some of the moisture out of the egg during the cooking process.

IMG_0379So, to start, use a pin or thumbtack and poke a hole in the bottom of each egg (the wider bottom)

Place the eggs in a single layer in the bottom of a sauce pan and add water and 1 teaspoon of baking powder. Make sure eggs are 1 inch below the surface of the water. By starting the eggs in cold water you avoid overcooking them.

Put the saucepan on the stove and bring to a boil on high. As soon as the water comes to a boil, set a timer for 1 minute. When the timer goes off remove the pan from the heat, cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Be sure to set a timer for the 10 minutes and don’t forget the eggs (Over cooking makes them smelly and green).

While the eggs are steeping, get out a bowl, fill it with cold water and ice. Once your timer goes off take the eggs out of the hot bath and place them in the cold bath for 5 minutes.

Fish the eggs out of the water and they should peel easily, or dry them and place them in the fridge for later. If stored in a sealed container they will keep for up to a week.

 

 

 

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Upcoming events – July 19

Seems like there are a lot of things happening July 19. Here’s a couple you won’t want to miss!

SHIRE Bike InFoCo Cafe’s Bike-in Music Festival returns July 19 to Shire CSA for a full day (starting at 2:30pm) of live music, craft beer and food. Limited to 300 guests, the festival will include performances by Steve Chignell and Matthew Luizza, Elise Wunder, Aspen Hourglass and Von Stomper. Sounds like a great time right? There’s more. Beer will be served by Odell Brewing Co. and food will be available from The Goodness food truck. In line with the cafe’s pay-what-you-can system, festival attendees can name their price for tickets, starting at $15. Children 12-and-under can accompany an adult for free. To purchase tickets before they sell out, visit FoCo Cafe’s event website. As the theme is a bike in music festival, there is no parking available on the farm. You may find some on the side streets near the farm, however, in keeping with the theme it is suggested that you bike to the event. There is an entrance to the farm from the Spring Creek Trail. Shire is located at 713 E. Prospect Rd. (located along the Spring Creek Trail between College and Lemay Avenues)

Happy HeartHeart of the Summer Dinner at Happy Heart Farm is also July 19. Join Fortified Collaborations and Happy Happy Heart Farm for a beautiful evening of local brews & eats at the Farm! The evening starts at 5:00 and goes to 9:00pm. Lauren Salazar of New Belgium Brewing & Amelia Mouton from Restaurant 415 created the menu! Tickets available here. Tickets are $80 per person and proceeds from tickets sales benefit this year’s Feeding the Families program!

 

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Heart of Summer Farm Dinner

HHFD4Web-225x300Many of you may remember my recent farmer profile on Bailey Stenson. It was a great opportunity to spend some time with her. Bailey and her husband Dennis have been a part of the Fort Collins local food scene, well, since we had a “food scene”. For over 30 years they have nurtured 10 acres of land through biodynamic methods, slowing creating a rich, diverse and welcoming space at Happy Heart Farm. On July 19, from 5:00 to 9:00 pm, the Stensons welcome guests to their farm for the Heart of Summer dinner. “We want to share the blessings of this place with more people” says Bailey. “The future of this farm and all small family farms depends upon support from the community.”

Friends of Happy Heart Farm will host the dinner to feed lower-income families in Fort Collins. Lauren Salazar of New Belgium Brewing and Chef Amelia Mouton of Restaurant 415 will create a 5-course meal of locally-sourced ingredients paired with New Belgium beers. Frey Vineyards will provide biodynamic wines and Bailey will share some homemade treats (which we discuss in her profile). From the sound of it, you won’t want to miss it. Guests can also get an insider look at the farm and hear personal stories about the place from the people who have worked on the farm. Dennis and Bailey will share their vision for the future of this special place as it transitions to its next incarnation as a community asset.

Live music and a bonfire will complete this truly memorable evening on the farm. Vegetarian meals are available. The dinner will take place rain or shine. Tickets are $80 per person and you can purchase tickets at www.fortifiedcollaborations.com/purchase-tickets/

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Out of the box…or bag

003I’m on a roll. This year I was out of commission for most of the Spring, and as a result we didn’t put in a garden. I wasn’t sure I’d be up to it. My husband has also never been a CSA member. He wanted to try it out. Since he’s the pickier of the two of us, I gave him some choices to research and let him make the final decision. Saturday we picked up our first share.

Since I’m not spending so much time in the garden (not that there aren’t a million other projects that need attending to), I find myself spending more time in the kitchen. A CSA share definitely increases time in my favorite room. When I looked in the bag of the medium sized share (for two of us, a bit much but I think we can handle it), I was really excited for all the possibilities.

We received two bunches of collards, a bunch of mustard greens, a bunch of turnip greens, three heads of lettuce, a bunch of cilantro, scallions and onions. Some menu planning is good when you have a CSA share. Sometimes the volume of a particular vegetable or the uniquness of it (i.e. wth is that??) can be daunting. It shouldn’t be with a little preparation, a few cookbooks and the internet.

Our freezer is beginning to look empty from our meat shares. Last year was a half hog and the year before that was a quarter side of beef. We are down to a few packages of hamburger and the last of the pork chops, a roast and a slab of baby backs. The baby backs were singing with the thought of collard greens. While I may not be southern, there are many days I believe my palate to be. Collard greens with bacon is a favorite. So I pulled out the pack of ribs, jumped on the internet, and got to cooking. I must say the greens turned out great, and I liked them even better on the second day. The ribs were also a big hit. Here are the recipes if you’re up for a little weekend BBQ on the fourth.

007Collard Greens

I must admit I’m a big fan of the recipes on Martha Stewarts website because they tend to be great and not fussy. I also love the recipe box on the Williams and Sonoma site. This recipe is a variation from the one on Martha Stewarts page and I love it because while the vinegar cuts the bite of the collards, it isn’t the main flavor of the dish. I’ll also be trying her Minestrone with collard greens and white beans with the second bunch I have.

(1) bunch collard greens stemmed (I usually just take of the large portion of the stem on the bottom)

(2) tsp. olive oil

(1/2) red onion sliced thin

(1)  1/2 inch thick cut of pancetta, cubed

(2) tbl. cider vinegar

(1) cup chicken broth

Stack the greens and cut into 2 inch thick strips. Cut again into 2 inch pieces. Soak in cold water and be sure to clean any grit clinging to the greens. Drain.

Heat the oil in a skillet (medium heat) and add the olive oil, onions and pancetta. If you want crispier pancetta, start it first and add the onions before it’s done. Cook until the onions are translucent, about 4 minutes.  Add the greens and cook until they are about to wilt.

Increase the heat to high and add the vinegar and cook until the vinegar evaporates. Scrape the bottom of the pan to pick up andy yummy brown bits.

Add the stock, lower to a simmer, and cover for 12-14 minutes.

009Baby Back Ribs on the Grill    

(1) tbl each ground cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder

Salt and pepper to your liking

(3) lbs ribs

(1) cup of your favorite bbq sauce

Be sure to trim the membrane off the ribs to keep them from being chewy.

Mix all the spices together. Liberally sprinkle the ribs with the spice mix. The more you rub the mix into the meat, the more spice they will have. If you want flavor on the subtle side stick to sprinkling.

Preheat the grill on high. You’ll be cooking the ribs on the upper rack, so line below the upper rack with tin foil. You don’t want flare ups of the flames getting too hot. Rub the grate with some oil before putting on the ribs.

Place the ribs on the rack, bone side down. Lower the temp of the grill to low, close the lid and let them cook for an hour. You may be tempted during this hour to open the lid, but don’t!

Check for doneness at the hour point. Depending on the thickness of the ribs you may need to cook them another ten minutes. Once ready, brush them with the bbq sauce and let them cook until it sinks into the ribs a bit and browns on the ends.

Then, yum!

*Note, if you want ribs that are a bit juicier, you may want to try cooking them in a tinfoil wrap. Personally, these were awesome and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Enjoy! And don’t forget the napkins!

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Locally raised potluck pulled pork

Pulled pork roast ready to go!

Pulled pork roast ready to go!

It’s definitely the season for garden parties and potlucks. Lots of great fresh veggies and the like make for some amazing feasts. I can’t wait until our CSA share starts this weekend. I am salivating at all the fresh greens that are coming our way.

Tonight one of our communities is getting together for a celebration. We will be having a potluck. So, after a trip to the freezer for a main course, we decided on pulled pork. As a lover of all things smoked and barbequed, this is a stand-by favorite. Thought I’d share it with all of you in case you have a freezer full of local pork just waiting to be turned into culinary goodness.

I started off with a locally raised 4lb pork shoulder roast from Cresset Farm.

Then I modified a recipe from one of my many cookbooks.

You’ll need the following ingredients for the rub (I usually get my spices from Old Town Spice Shop on College):

2 tbl smoked paprika

1 tbl coarse sea salt

1 tbl chili powder

1 tbl ground cumin

1/2 tbl ground black pepper (fresh if you have it)

1/2 tbl oregano

1/2 tbl ground white pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper

3 cloves garlic minced

First, I line the bottom of a crock pot with sliced onion. Then rub down the roast with your rub mix. Lay it on top of the onions and then add a 1/4 cup of water to the pot. To add some extra flavor I added a freezer bag worth of roasted tomatoes. I always have some on hand to add some depth. Then it’s high for a couple hours and then turn the temp down to low for the rest of the day. Keep an eye on the moisture content so it doesn’t dry out or burn in the crock pot. When it’s done, use two forks to pull it apart.

To finish off, throw some on a fresh roll with some bbq sauce and coleslaw if you have it and mmmm. Enjoy!

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Farmer Profile: Bailey Stenson of Happy Heart Farm

1560537_10153443116248200_6485373581178212908_nIt was a good Friday this past week. I didn’t have to go to the day job. The sun was out and the endless rain took a break. Mother Nature is especially spendid when decked out in all her shades of green. And the best part of the day? Heading over to Happy Heart Farm to chat with one of my favorite ag people. Bailey, co-founder and farmer of Happy Heart.

I almost always drive by the farm entrance. The farm entrance is actually a bit hidden at the end of what would like be a cul de sac if the farm weren’t there, right off Elizabeth, west of Taft. Take a right on Kimball and a left on Plum. There you’ll see the cart road between the fence. Welcoming you to a ten acre parcel of paradise in the city.

Wandering over to the pick up shed, I met up with Claudia DeMarco, Executive Director of Friends of Happy Heart (I’ll explain more about that later). She walked me over to meet Bailey in the office, an extension of the house, tucked behind trees and a wonderful garden. Bailey came out to greet us, and offered to sit in the garden for our interview. If you’ve met Bailey you know she’s one of the warmest people you’ll meet. You’ll also know she has a fiery spirit when it comes to community, farming and supporting local food. She has opinions and she’s not afraid to share them. It’s one of the things I appreciate most.

11217534_10153443115698200_3721394310448227160_nWe sat in the shade of the garden and got to chatting about her farming story. Bailey and her husband Dennis began Happy Heart in 1983. The property had been a farm, originally a dairy farm, and they wished to continue it. Bailey and Dennis practice bio-dynamic farming. They are also part of Homegrown Farmers, a 2 year certificate program to train the next generation of bio-dynamic farmers. Dennis is a mentor with the program. They also have had apprentices over the years. Meghan from Spring Kite Farm was an apprentice for three years, as was Adrian, the founder of Building Small Farmers. Here’s what their website says about bio-dynamic farming:

Biodynamic agriculture is a means of healing the earth and the human being; it enlivens the soil and thereby the food we eat. This is achieved through various cultural practices, but is centered on the deeply personal relationship between the farmer and the farm.

Although the Biodynamic Movement originated slightly before the Organic Movement, it actually represents the next conscious step beyond what the Organic Movement brings to agriculture. Fundamentally, it is inclusive of many of the methods familiar to “organic” and “permacultural” practitioners,  but also takes into account the planetary influences and spiritual forces that affect plant growth. The use of the “biodynamic preparations” (specialized composts that are applied in homeopathic doses) also sets biodynamics apart from other farming practices.

Biodynamics originated through the spiritual scientific work of Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist, artist, and educator. Steiner’s Work, known as “Anthroposophy,” (literally meaning “knowledge of the human being and what it can attain”) has given birth to other movements such as Waldorf Education, Anthroposophical medicine, and the art of Eurythmy.

In 1989 the pair attended and agricultural conference in Sante Fe where they were introduced to innovative farming practices. It is there where they first heard about Community Supported Agriculture or CSA for short. The model resonated with them and in 1990 they launched the first CSA program in Colorado. They were also influential in starting farmer’s markets in the community. What made the most sense with CSA’s was having members pay in advance for their share of vegetables, rather than having to spend so much time during the season, when time is rare, trying to find consumers for their product. Bailey calls teh sell as you grow model a “recipe for chaos”. In 1990 they began with fifteen families and they have had as many as 130. Bailey explained that this is a lean year, having about half the number of members as they usually have (there are shares still available if you are interested).  Lean years call for innovation. Actually, every year calls for innovation when your a farmer. At least that is Bailey’s opinion.

While we sat in the garden Bailey had a large basket covering her lap and she pulled apart rose petals from the flowers in her garden. The petals, whose fragrence carried across the space between us, were for rose honey. Rose honey for the top of creme brulee. Creme Brulee for the Heart of Summer Dinner at the farm on July 19, put together in collaboration with Fortified Collaborations and the Chef Amelia Mouton of Restaurant 415. Farm dinners and creative food products are part of the innovation we discussed. She’s working on another project with a chocalatier with the same rose honey. Just one of the myriad of ways farmers make a living during the season.

11393545_10153443116253200_1804682872430774310_oWe talked about many of the issues facing small farmers today. I don’t believe they have changed much. Representation in the market and politics, funding, especially in terms of access to land and infrastructure, and exposure to consumers. ” She expressed concern, “I don’t know what it’s going to take to make it open up.” Meaning the movement of small farms and the market for local food. Recently her neighborhood participated in Open Streets. She was out there with mint lemonade and offers for farm tours. She explained that there were a number of neighbors who let her know they had no idea a farm was in the area, never mind a ten acre oasis. We spent some time talking about ways to educate the public, and how much farmers need help in this area. Because, as mentioned before, they are really busy during the season. And not everyone has the expertise to be a grower, engineer, sales person, marketing person, etc.

This brought us to the topic of the future. Farming for 32 years is no small feat. The time is ripe for legacy planning. Preserving the land so it can continue in the city as a Heritage CSA farm. “It would be a tragedy if it’s not preserved”. Seeing a bit of the fire come into her, she expressed her desire to see the city start paying attention and include urban farming in their planning. Seeing the value of urban agricultural areas as means to educate folks, to utilize like parks and open space, much like Lee Martinez park. It’s a key item for consideration. Not just with aging farmers, but with cities and organizations, communities, both present and future. We are currently seeing urban ag by design with development projects like Bucking Horse on the east side of town.

11411882_10153443115723200_8810409022403244115_oBoth Dennis and Bailey seem tireless. In addition to farming and founding various organizations and projects, they are also on committees with the new Northern Colorado Food Cluster. Dennis is on the committee for land policy and Bailey is on the committee for food security. Maybe such tireless activism is a result of their generation. That drive to leave something better than when they found it. It’s apparent their impact is expansive. And they raised three children in the midst of it all. Homeschooling two of them. Balance seems to be the key (isn’t it always!). And making the job of the farm fun. “You need to find new ways to make it fun”. Meditating two times a day and setting their schedule for public and private days helps a lot to recharge the couple for all that they do. Wednesdays is couples day, where they set off to get out in nature, not the cultivated kind at the farm, but that which provides some space and fun.

Another passion of the Stensons is feeding low income families. Bailey explained they have always found some way to do that. Most recently they have been approved to accept SNAP benefits (what used to be food stamps) and are in the process of obtaining the EBT equipment to be able to process the SNAP benefit cards, which work much like a pre-paid debit card. They also founded Friends of Happy Heart Farm and the Feeding Families Project. This organization provides for a funding source in feeding low income families. With the money raised each year, the farm is able to provide a farm share to families that apply and are accepted by the group. This year they are feeding a number of families, putting food on the table for about 80 people.

I asked Bailey if they had any problems with their neighbors, with sub-divisions surrounding the farm. She explained that they have had great neighbors, with only one complaint. That was the year they spread the manure across the fields but hadn’t yet had the time to plow it under. The smell was apparently a bit much that year, hence their one complaint. I believe much of that is likely the time and attention they place on meeting and introducing their neighbors to the farm. While some folks in the area have become members, Bailey acknowledges that the CSA model isn’t for everyone.

This year they have an added feature at the farm. The Audobon of the Rockies donated 100 perrenial pollinator plants through a member of the farm affiliated with the group. This is the first farm the Bee A Hero program has collaborated with. The plants provide food for various pollinators and beneficial visitors to the graden, like bees, butterflies and bats.

11420985_10153443115693200_7431412051226935327_oIf you wish to check out the farm there are lots of ways to do so. Each month they host a Taste of Happy Heart during their pick up night, 4:00 to 7:00pm on Tuesdays. At the Taste local chefs prepare food from the farm, providing lots of great ideas to prepare what’s in your share, and mingle with the other members. Tuesday evenings tend to be quite an event regularly, with music, community and food from vendors like the Silver Seed food truch which is there every other Tuesday. They provide other things for sale, like protein options from Donoma Farms.

I had a wonderful talk with Bailey in her shade garden. It was just like old friends. I love when new friends feel like old friends. If you wish to swing by to meet Bailey and Dennis below is a full listing of Happy Heart events. It’s a great place and they grow some amazing vegetables. Tell them Erica sent you!

June 20 – Summer Solctice Celebration. Cost is $10 for non-members. This is one helluva a potluck. Music.

June 23 – Taste of Happy Heart 4-7pm

July 19 – Heart of Summer Farm Dinner

July 21 – Taste of Happy Heart 4-7pm

August 2 – Farm to Fork Dinner 6-8pm at Fort Collins Brewery

August 25 – Taste of Happy Heart 4-7pm

August 30 – Bowling for Happy Hearts 2-6pm at Chipper’s Lanes North

September 22 – Taste of Happy Heart 4-7pm 

October 3 – Heart of the Farm Festival 2-6pm at Avogadro’s Number

October 20 – Taste of Happy Heart 4-7pm 

October 25 – Yoga Feeds Us 1:30-3:30 at Old Town Yoga

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Diggin’ It

Bucking HorseThursday, June 11, is the soft opening of the farmer’s market at Jessup Artisan Village just north of Drake and Timberline. Check it out from 4:00-7:00pm. There will be live music with Franklin Taggart, and a number of vendors including Wunderjuice, MouCo Cheese, Donoma Farms, Birds of a feather birdhouses, Avani Natural Soaps, Bindle Coffee, and Raisin’ Roots Farm.

This is just a start. The plan is to have quite a few more vendors lined up for future markets. So if you are in the neighborhood, stop by and show your support for the newest farmer’s market in town. Support local!! I’m diggin’ that.

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Update: meat birds

meat chicken 2We are exactly one month into our experiment with meat birds. We’ve also added some turkeys (heritage Chocalates) and guinea hens (white and lavender), because, well, I can’t help myself. And Thanksgiving last year was delicious with our home grown birds.

For now, the various birds are together. Today after cleaning the small coop, it was on to the future turkey coop. It’s almost ready for the 3 turkeys to move into once their feathers fill out a bit more. Looks like we have one Tom and two hens. The guineas will be introduced to and move in with the laying hens. That is once they get a little bigger.

It is really amazing how quickly the meat birds have grown. They are more than doubled in size, and it was time to take out the divider in the coop to let them have more room. The heat lamp is no longer in use and they are almost feathered out and ready to explore the outside world.

To date I have gone through two bags of non-medicated chick starter. Small birds tend to waste a lot of feed so I’ve been experimenting with feeders to see what would work best. It came down to a larger metal feeder, with the bottom of a second metal feeder placed on top with a rock. Seems like the birds liked roosting on the edge of the feeder. Needless to say the feed got disgusting pretty quickly. By placing the second bottom upside down on top, they can sit up there without making a mess of the feed. I’ve noticed a big reduction in waste.

meat chickens 1A lot of folks have asked me how I can eat them. The irony is this question comes more often from meat eaters. My answer is two part. I feel better knowing that the birds were raised well, with room to roam and be “chickens”. Second, there is no comparison in taste. Both these things are outweighing the discomfort that comes from processing meat that you’ve raised. For me, I can’t help but make a connection to the little critters. But I eat meat. And I am personally healthier for that choice. So, this is the better option for me. We’ll see if I can maintain that when we move into raising larger animals.

For now, we have had no losses. The birds look healthy and are growing well. To date, the experiment is successful.

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Slow Meat Denver

Slow Food DenverJoin Slow Food Denver this week for all things meat! Events are from June 1 through June 6, highlighting sustainable farming and the tastes of all Slow Meat has to offer while learning a few culinary tricks.

Events began today with Charc Week. Charc Week is a celebration of the fine craft of Charcuterie. Visit participating restaurants from June 1-6 for Charc Week specials. To learn more and purchase tickets for the June 4th Charc Bites event visit Charc Week Denver.

Lasater-Ranch161-150x150June 4 is the Prarie Land Legacy Tour. One hour from Denver, in West Bijou Creek, the Plains Conservation Center contains both the past and potential re of the vanishing prairie. Visit its bison herd, and learn about its role as an holistic land management educational hub for the Savory Institute.

Or, on June 4 join the Mile High Meat Tour. This local tour will take you to two businesses at the forefront of good meat in the Mile High City. The day will start with a tour of Good Food Award winners Continental Sausage and learn how they are bringing European tradition and modern tastes to the West, while producing of good food at scale. We will then head to Western Daughter’s Butcher Shoppe for a brief tour and intimate al-fresco lunch with owners Josh Curtiss and Kate Kavanaugh for an inside-out look at butchery and how they are making it work for land, animal and rancher. All tours include lunch and any transportation outside of Denver. 

Slow FoodJune 6 head to the Auraria Campus MSU Club Sports Field and Hospitality Center for a day of meat filled events. The first-ever Slow Meat Fair on Saturday June 6 is a delicious gathering to celebrate, discuss and learn more about sustainably raised meat, and why it matters . It is open to the public with free entry and some ticketed events. Listen to our own Temple Grandin, head to the Terra Madre kitchen to check out tastes and food traditions from around the world, and the Tattered Cover will have a pop-up bookstore with several authors onsite for signings.  There will be ticketed culinary and taste workshops featuring: Charcuterie, cheese and craft beer tasting, Sausage making, Heritage pork breeds and brews, Beef breakdown.

The sausage making workshop is highlighted as an extra special event. From 11:30 to 1:00 Josh Johnson from the Rocky Mountain Institute of Meat will be empowering folks to make fresh sausage at home. Attendees will learn the principles in sausage recipes, selecting and preparing the meat, pumping and twisting links, and best cooking practices. 

Purchase tickets or sign up to volunteer for one or more of these events.

Slow Food members receive a 15% discount on all ticketed Slow Meat events – use promo code I’m with Carlo when purchasing.

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Survey Says?

Orange Bulldozer in Landfill

Traditional Landfill

The Environmental Protection Agency is promoting ways to reduce, prevent and divert wasted food. Food waste is a big problem. There are a number of benefits to diverting food waste from landfills. One, it reduces the methane produced (can you say global warming?). The EPA cites landfills as accounting for more than 20% of all methane emissions. Second, you don’t waste all those resources that go into making our food (planes, trains and automobiles, water, energy, etc), by throwing it away. (Eating local can reduce some of these resources further!!) Third, we can increase soil fertility by creating soil amendments through composting, rather than creating greenhouse gases. Composting food waste is a better option than landfills. Fourth, we can improve our environment and health by not storing food waste in garbage barrels, alleys, dumpsters. Keep our alleys clean and critter free, right?

Food waste from Cedar Rapids and Marion Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores will be worked into yard waste and composted at the Solid Waste Agency's compost site at the Site 1 landfill on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011, in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/SourceMedia Group News)

Food waste from Cedar Rapids and Marion Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores will be worked into yard waste and composted at the Solid Waste Agency’s compost site at the Site 1 landfill on Thursday, Sept. 8, 2011, in Cedar Rapids. (Liz Martin/SourceMedia Group News)

So, with that said, some places, cities and towns, are looking at ways to divert our food waste and put it to better use. If you’ve ever read The Town that Food Saved: How one town found vitality in local food, by Ben Hewitt, you know there are some great things happening with regard to this topic.  

So, what are we doing locally? In my humble opinion, not enough yet. There are some commercial kitchens that divert a percentage of their food waste, either through the feeding of livestock or composting. There are some options for composting through sanitation businesses. With the increasing popularity of urban farming, home compost piles are on the rise. But there is more to be done.

That’s where The Growing Project comes in. They have a surbey live right now (please take it!!!!). They are researching the concept of developing community compost hubs throughout Fort Collins. They are in the process of gauging the need (I’d say it’s there) and the interest from the community.

A preschool composting bin in Madison WI.

A preschool composting bin in Madison WI.

The basic concept is that homeowners across town will volunteer their land and time to manage a compost pile for their neighborhood. Folks will be able to drop off food waste and potentially receive finished compost for their gardens.

Sounds like a great idea, and a timely one! So, if you would take a minute of your time, I ask that you help out the great folks at TGP by filling out their survey here.

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