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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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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Gathering rain…not yet

Photo from www.lid-stormwater.net

Photo from www.lid-stormwater.net

Maybe some of you were following the laws presented this year in Colorado to allow residents the ability to collect rainwater from their rooftops. It seemed like an obvious choice, allowing residents to collect water for gardens and landscaping, when we live in an arid climate where rain can avoid us for weeks on end. That’s not how the Senate saw it this month.

Collecting rainwater isn’t totally illegal in the State. In 2009 Senate Bill 09-080 passed allowing residents with wells to collect rainwater in the following manner: 
◾The property on which the collection takes place is residential property, and
◾The landowner uses a well, or is legally entitled to a well, for the water supply, and
◾The well is permitted for domestic uses according to section 37-92-602, C.R.S., and
◾There is no water supply available in the area from a municipality or water district, and
◾The rainwater is collected only from the roof, and
◾The water is used only for those uses that are allowed by, and identified on, the well permit.

All criteria has to be met to fall under the coverage.

In April 2015 the House signed a bill that would allow residents to collect up to 110 gallons to be utilized for outdoor use. The bill was approved 45-20 and bi-partisan support was evident in the Senate.

Fast forward to early May 2015, and the measure failed in the Senate, which would have allowed homeowners to use up to two 55 gallon rain barrels for collection. The oppositions worry, and the reason the ban on harvesting rainwater in the first place, is concern for those who hold water rights in the State. As Colorado is an allocation state, water is divided to share holders from Senior shareholders to newer. The concern is if residents divert water (in this case off rooftops into barrels), those shareholders could be impacted. Thus, violating Colorado water law which says that people can can use but cannot keep water that flows through their property. As a result, only those falling under the 2009 law can continue to collect rainwater under the above mentioned criteria.

Colorado faces unique water challenges given our climate and water laws. Conservation practices are crucial as is ensuring agriculture, homeowner’s and more have access to what they need while preserving the need for future use. If this is a topic that interests you, keep your eyes out for the introduction of similar bills in the future. Water harvesting will continue to be a perrenial issue in Colorado.   

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Happy Mother’s Day

My Mom

My Mom

It’s always great to have a day to reflect on the things that make us who we are. Moms (one hopes), and all the wonderful women in our life, definitely fall in that category. For myself, I’m grateful for my Grandmother’s green thumb. She grew dahlia’s as big as my head, loved her flower gardens, taught me how to compost, and let me cook foods from her heritage with her. So much of my love for growing things come from her. My Mom loved her flower beds too. While my Dad was the vegetable grower, Mom took to the flowers. And our house growing up was a jungle of house plants. I loved that. She was also a great cook in the classic American sense, as well as cooking my Grandmother’s recipes. She took me to farm stands, and foraging for mushrooms and wild berries. We went apple picking and baked and cooked. She gave me a love of fresh food and culinary adventure. She’ll try anything once. I love that about her.

On this day I think it appropriate to reflect on those who inspired our love of the soil, the magical growth of things, and our passion for putting soul nourishing food on the table. That list is endless for me. My old co-op housemate Mary Jane (not the Budding Fort Collins Mary Jane) was an extension employee at UMASS. She taught me about crop rotation, no till gardening, and non-chemical pest control. She showed me how to can and preserve the harvest that we lived off year round. I’m grateful for the vegetable farm I worked on when I was younger. They showed me how to plant (really fast and straight) and how to work in the greenhouse. My

My Mother-In-Law

My Mother-In-Law

Mother-In-Law who has wonderful flower gardens in Virginia and holds a deep appreciation for the natural world. I’m thankful for all the farmers on the Front Range, those women who work tirelessly to grow wonderful food and teach the next generation a love for all of these things.

My life would be a bit duller, less greens and rich browns, a little staler with the air indoors, and less magical without the little sprouts of life popping up despite the odds of a May snowstorm. So thank you, to all the women that keep these wonderful things alive for all of us. Have a wonderful Mother’s Day!

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Baby Meat Chicks!

Freedom rangersSo, yesterday we got a little surprise. The 25 black broilers we ordered from Freedom Rangers Hatchery came a day earlier. Oy! We weren’t ready for them yesterday. With all the rain we’ve been getting up here in Wellington we weren’t able to complete their new brooder/coop.

This year we are experimenting. I asked my husband to watch Hungry for Change and Food, Inc. with me about a month and a half ago. If you’ve ever watched Food, Inc. you may know where I’m headed with this. My husband told me that it had a profound impact on him and he wanted to take some action. This is our first step in protein self sufficiency. We’ll be raising three rounds of broilers this year, splitting them with another family.

As you may or may not know, we do have several local poultry choices in the area. Chicken that tastes amazing and is raised in harmony with our values. Jodar Farms and Donoma Farms come to mind. There are a number of choices for organic, pasture raised eggs like Six Dog Farms, Donoma and Jodar again, or your neighbor. Our motivation is less about access, and more about our own nature. We bought a small farm to be self sufficient and increase our sustainability. We definitely fall in the extreme DIY category.

That leads us to this years expirement, which I will be writing about throughout the season. Partly to share the story, and partly to track the progress and the conclusion. I knew I didn’t want to raise crosses that are bred to grow at an unnatural rate. I’ve seen them, beyond the documentaries, and I don’t have the heart. So I went online to check out a breed I had heard about a few years ago from Freedom Rangers Hatchery. Being one who is always keeping flavor in mind, I opted to try the black broilers out of the two selections. The description states they develop higher meat density and more flavor in a pastured environment. Likely we will try the regular red variety next time to see if we notice a difference.

While I understand the economics of a faster growing bird, there are some things that I believe we shouldn’t be compromising on. Health, respect, and, as these birds are meant for the dinner table, taste. These birds will definitely take almost double the time to grow to slaughter weight. Twelve to thirteen weeks. They probably won’t have enormous breasts as we become acustom to in the grocery stores. But after raising my own turkeys for the table last year, I anticipate having one of the best chicken dinners come August that I have ever had.

Which brings me to how we are getting them to the table. Luckily I know a few experienced farmers. The couple we are splitting the birds with agreed to process them with us as well. We have asked one of these wonderfully experienced farmers to come to our farm on processing day, renting his equipment for the day, and learning the art of not poisoning ourselves while humanely butchering chickens. I’ve done it once before at Grant Farms, and my friend Tom grew up helping his aunt. I think we’ll be ok. Again, I’ll let you know how that goes.

But for now, we managed to set up a temporary brooder given their early arrival. They are safe, from both weather and crazy farm dogs (who have a rather precarious truce with our laying hens), and running around like the little fluff balls they are. I do have one question though, as we complete their brooder/coop. Why does the weather always turn to damp, cold with a chance of snow, when the chicks arrive??

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Volunteering

Volunteers tidy up in the Entry Way Garden. Photo courtesy of Heidi Muller, Heidi Muller Photography.

Volunteers tidy up in the Entry Way Garden. Photo courtesy of Heidi Muller, Heidi Muller Photography.

So many folks want to be a part of building a strong food system. It takes a lot of work, and it requires educating folks on the importance of a local food system. That’s why it’s important to start the education early. Like in school. So kids know where their food comes from and how it’s grown. Over the years I’ve run into more than my fair share of folks that don’t know what food looks like before it’s processed or how it grows. They don’t know that tomatoes don’t really taste like cardboard and that there are numerous varieties, tastes and colors. Isn’t that sad?? If the above things are important to you, and you have some time on your hands, this is my call for you to volunteer. Whether it’s bringing your family and friends to the farm for volunteer work days, or offering pro bono work to help farmers with things like marketing and accounting and other needs, or supporting our local organizations who get fresh food to those who need it most. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a list of places to start.

Volunteer with Food School at Olander Elementary

For 8 weeks folks will be traveling to Olander School for Project-Based Learning.  They have hired The Friends of Happy Heart (The Food School) to teach their garden curriculum-Growing Food, Growing Community in grades K-5!  They need volunteers to assist in garden/classroom activities helping with small groups with various aspects of the curriculum.  They will need at least 3 to 4 people for each session.  They’ll be teaching 3rd grade and kindergarten on Thursdays and Ist grade on Tuesdays and Wednesdays beginning until May 21st. May has a lot of slots to fill on their sign up calendar. Contact them here if you have questions.  

Volunteer with The Growing Project

The Growing Project has numerous ways to support the community, whether your helping them in their gardens raising food for folks in need; helping as a food finder picking up excess food from local farms, gardens and grocers and delivering it to non-profit providers; teaching a workshop; or providing a much needed service based on your unique skill-set. You can also donate food from your own garden!

Become a working member at your favorite farm

Most farms that offer a CSA or other food membership programs have working memberships. For your time and assistance at the farm you receive a discount on your food shares. That’s a win-win. You get the discount, and the farmer recieves much needed assistance.

Volunteer with FoCo Cafe

Their volunteers help make the FoCo Cafe run smoothly. They would not exist without donations of time, in addition to donations of materials, services, and financial support. Public support helps to make fresh food, a fresh environment, and a fresh approach to ending hunger in Fort Collins! If you’re looking to contribute to the cafe’s mission beyond exchanging work for food, volunteers may sign up to work in the kitchen and in the dining area—prepping food, cooking, counter service, dishwashing, cleaning tables, doing maintenance work, etc.  Space is limited, so it’s best to schedule your volunteer slot ahead of time. For groups (limit 4 per shift) a pre-arranged time is required. Volunteers must be 16 years of age or older. If you are younger than 16, an adult may sign up to volunteer and you may shadow their work.

Volunteer with Friends of Happy Heart

Friends of Happy Heart’s mission is to create a healthy community by providing food education, nourishing families and growing new farmers. Their purpose is to educate the community about how food is grown, harvested, prepared and preserved.  They do this by providing locally grown fresh biodynamic vegetables to families in need to celebrate self sufficiency and honor community. Growing food, families and farmers. The Feeding the Families Program began in 2009 providing 22 weeks worth of vegetables to six low- income families in Fort Collins.  They also provide workshops – ex. micro-greens, sprouting, container gardening and a cooking class to between 10 and fifteen people at each class.  Once a month from June through October, we hosted Taste of Happy Heart.  An evening of tasting recipes made with fresh vegetables straight from the fields. Volunteers are needed to meet these goals. Learn more here.

Volunteer with Friends of Spring Creek Gardens

Friends of Spring Creek Gardens has over 160 volunteers annually to keep this programming growing. Volunteers are critical to The Gardens on Spring Creek’s daily operations and continued success. They simply could not do what they do without volunteers! Whether you are looking for a one-time project or a recurring task, many hands make light work. Are you looking for a hands-on way to learn more about horticulture? Are you passionate about sustainability? Are you interested in participating in continuing education? The Gardens on Spring Creek values its volunteers! Here are just a few ways you can help: Social gardening in various theme gardens; Propagating plants for plant sales; Building planters and fixing equipment; Setting up and creating decorations for special events; Greeting guests at the front desk and assisting with clerical tasks; Leading and assisting youth and family education programs and tours; Assisting with adult education programs and leading adult tours; Staffing booths, stations, and activities at fun special events; Distributing posters and other marketing materials around town; Entering data and greeting visitors; Serving as a leader on the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Gardens on Spring Creek

Volunteer with your local schools

Many school are starting, or wish to start, a garden project or bring more fresh food into their cafeterias. Contact your school to see if they have a program you can participate in, or if they wish to develop a program (for those of you that have the ambition!) I regularly receive requests from programs looking for people to do class presentations and workshops. The need is definitely there.

This list is just a starter. There are so many ways the community can support a vibrant local food system. Just keep your eyes peeled! And follow Farming Fort Collins on facebook, as we regularly post volunteer opportunities we come across!

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PLATEful

PlateLast night I was at a wonderful house concert. One of the hosts is an amazing local potter. It was there that I heard about a great upcoming farm to table dinner. Or rather, farm to plate to table.

Much of the farm to table movement emphasizes the local, environmental and health aspects inherent in supporting our local farms. Definitely a noble cause. But there are a lot of things that are local. One of the questions raised by Three Leaf Farm is how do we help to reduce the environmental impact of the food supply as well as creating a healthy local economy for local farmers? Where do your plates, glassware, and silverware come from?

One way to answer that question is to throw a dinner party. And invite some of your favorite local potters/artists. And eat off of a plate that one of these favorite local potters/artists made. Each artist will create a number of unique, one of a kind Art Plates upon which guests will dine for this fun and creative meal.

The PLATEful dinner will be held August 22, from 6:00 to 9:00pm. Registration includes the opportunity to choose from this wide variety of art plates.  When you arrive, you’ll have your pick of the lot (remember, the earlier you arrive, the better your selection! – but, all plates will be amazing!) You’ll also get to tour the farm, stables and goat cottage (did someone say goats!!!). A live bluegrass band will accompany the meal. Price per person $120. You can learn more about the farm’s events and how to purchase tickets for PLATEful HERE.

I love the idea of including local artisans in what is already a wonderfully good time. Keepin’ it local. One plate at a time.

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Farm to Table

Lyons Farmette

Lyons Farmette

‘Tis the season to start spending some time enjoying local feasts as the sun sets and the stars shine. Here is a little list to start off with. But trust me, as the season progresses they pop up like crazy. Don’t see your favorite farm on the list? Just ask them if they will be putting on any events.

June 20, 2015 SOLSTICE DINNER – Ring in the summer with drummers and fire dancers!! Grant Farms CSA is hosting four amazing “themed” farm dinners this summer featuring guest chefs, seasonal cuisine with produce and meats from our farm, wine from Vintages in Fort Collins, tours, live music and an elegant dinner in a picturesque garden setting. Sommelier Paul VanderTop will be available to introduce and suggest wine pairings and bottle service at each dinner. Themes range from Boots &Spurs, to Colorado Black Tie, tickets prices vary $75 to 120 ea.

July 1, 2015 – Black Cat Dinner at Lyons Farmette. Join Black Cat for their summer Hog Roast celebration, featuring their award winning Heritage Mulefoot Hogs.  For hours and hours they slow cook one of our magnificent hogs over plum wood embers.  The pork is paired with the spectacular vegetables of that morning’s harvest from the Lyons Farmette and our 130 acre Black Cat Farm.  Smokey, delicious and reminiscent of a bygone era of homemade cooking out on the farm, it is the best way we know to celebrate the peak of the summer harvest with friends and family.  $95 per person. Beverages ~ This farm dinner is also a benefit for the Boulder County Arts Alliance. The BCAA will be selling wine and beer at the dinner for their organization. There will be a wonderful selection to complement the menu.  Please do not bring your own wine or beer ~ you can plan on buying it here by the bottle or glass.

July 9, 2015 – Meadowlark Farm Dinner – Join the Lyons Farmette at the Farmette as Meadowlark creates their magic for an unforgettable dinner and evening.  More information about reservations and details on their website.

July 15, 2015 – Eat Farm Dinner at Lyons Farmette – Experience delicious cuisine, meet new people, and share a special evening at with friends and family as Eat’s chef and owner Katie Baum prepares an unforgettable meal. The day’s bounty from the Farmette and surrounding farms will take the starring role in a multi course dinner that spotlights the strong links between community farming and the pleasures of eating. Come with an open heart, and partake in the art, creativity and joy Chef Katie brings to an evening of great tastes with Eat and the Lyons Farmette!  $95 per person. Beverages ~ This farm dinner is also a benefit for PRIDE-Etheopia. Growing Gardens will be selling wine and beer at the dinner for their organization. There will be a wonderful selection to complement the menu.  Please do not bring your own wine or beer ~ you can plan on buying it here by the bottle or glass.

July 22, 2015 – Blackbelly Farm Dinner at Lyons Farmette – Join Blackbelly chef Hosea Rosenberg and his culinary dream team at the gorgeous creekside lawn at The Lyons Farmette. This evening is sure to impress you with a seasonal multi course dinner prepared with hand chosen ingredients from the Farmette. This amazing food and our unparalleled service are sure to bring you the ultimate private chef experience.  $135 per person. Beverages ~ This farm dinner is also a benefit for Growing Gardens. Growing Gardens will be selling wine and beer at the dinner for their organization. There will be a wonderful selection to complement the menu.  Please do not bring your own wine or beer ~ you can plan on buying it here by the bottle or glass.

July 25, 2015 – FARM DINNER – Grant Farms CSA is hosting four amazing “themed” farm dinners this summer featuring guest chefs, seasonal cuisine with produce and meats from our farm, wine from Vintages in Fort Collins, tours, live music and an elegant dinner in a picturesque garden setting. Sommelier Paul VanderTop will be available to introduce and suggest wine pairings and bottle service at each dinner. Themes range from Boots &Spurs, to Colorado Black Tie, tickets prices vary $75 to 120 ea.

July 31 , 2015 – BLUE MOON DINNER – Blues music is earthy, visceral, and connected. Experience dinner under the full moon and dine with the “blues”. Grant Farms CSA is hosting three incredible “MOONLIGHT” farm dinners this summer featuring seasonal cuisine with produce and meats from our farm, wine from Vintages in Fort Collins, tours, live music and an elegant dinner in a picturesque garden setting. Sommelier Paul VanderTop will be available to introduce and suggest wine pairings and bottle service at each dinner.

August 5, 2015 – Cured Farm Dinner at Lyons Farmette – Spend an evening at Riverbend in Lyons with Will and Coral Frischkorn, owners of Cured.  Cured, Boulder’s cheese and charcuterie specialists, partner with Front Range farmers to highlight the very best that Colorado has to offer.  In this intimate setting on a summer evening we will enjoy some of Colorado’s finest cheese and charcuterie before moving into a tasting menu build around meat and produce from Oxford Gardens, Bona Vida Growers, the Lyons Farmette of course, and Cure Organic Farm.  $110 per person.

August 12, 2015 – Blackbelly Farm Dinner at Lyons Farmette  – Join Blackbelly chef Hosea Rosenberg and his culinary dream team at the gorgeous creekside lawn at The Lyons Farmette. This evening is sure to impress you with a seasonal multi course dinner prepared with hand chosen ingredients from the Farmette. This amazing food and our unparalleled service are sure to bring you the ultimate private chef experience.  $135 per person. Beverages ~ This farm dinner is also a benefit for the Boulder County Arts Alliance. The BCAA will be selling wine and beer at the dinner for their organization. There will be a wonderful selection to complement the menu.  Please do not bring your own wine or beer ~ you can plan on buying it here by the bottle or glass.

August 19, 2015 – Arugula/Tangerine Farm Dinner at Lyons Farmette – Arugula and Tangerine restaurants founder, owner and chef Alec Schuler will prepare a fantastic end of summer 6 course meal created with a focus on high quality proteins and veggies, veggies, veggies.  Some of ingredients will be sourced from Lyons Farmette and the most of the remainder from within Boulder county.   The menu will give a nod to the “Paleo diet”, but with a little dairy and complex carbohydrates.  It will feature a light touch in the first two courses, then to seafood, to Longmont raised rabbit and culminating with a red meat, and of course finishing with something sweet.  $90 per person. Beverages ~ This farm dinner is also a benefit for the Lyons Arts and Humanities Council.
The LAHC will be selling wine and beer at the dinner for their organization. There will be a wonderful selection to complement the menu.  Please do not bring your own wine or beer ~ you can plan on buying it here by the bottle or glass.

August 20, 2015 – Meadowlark Farm Dinner – Join the Lyons Farmette at the Farmette as Meadowlark creates their magic for an unforgettable dinner and evening.  More information about reservations and details on their website.

August 22, 2015 – FARM DINNER – Grant Farms CSA is hosting four amazing “themed” farm dinners this summer featuring guest chefs, seasonal cuisine with produce and meats from our farm, wine from Vintages in Fort Collins, tours, live music and an elegant dinner in a picturesque garden setting. Sommelier Paul VanderTop will be available to introduce and suggest wine pairings and bottle service at each dinner. Themes range from Boots &Spurs, to Colorado Black Tie, tickets prices vary $75 to 120 ea.

August 26, 2015 – Spice of Life Farm Dinner at Lyons Farmette – Spice of Life‘s Chef Dijkstra prepares a meal that celebrates the Farmette’s harvest, drawing inspiration from the rich flavors of the season. With ingredients picked fresh at the Farmette on the day of the dinner, Dijkstra will craft a menu with his trademark creativity and flair, incorporating fresh twists with comforting classics. A Spice of Life prides itself on creating memorable experiences in addition to their delectable menus; they believe every day is reason for celebration. Using the Farmette’s crops like juicy tomatoes and flavorful greens, each of the three courses will celebrate the season and our community. Enjoy the surprise and innovation of a Farm to Table menu with neighbors and friends on the land where the ingredients were grown.  $100 per person. Beverages ~ This farm dinner is also a benefit for the Lyons Arts and Humanities Council. The LAHC will be selling wine and beer at the dinner for their organization. There will be a wonderful selection to complement the menu.  Please do not bring your own wine or beer ~ you can plan on buying it here by the bottle or glass.

August 29, 2015 – STURGEON MOON DINNER – Elegance in C… for CSA! The Sturgeon Moon Dinner at Grant Farms CSA will be their “Colorado Black Tie” themed moonlight dinner, featuring chamber music, exquisite cuisine prepared by a guest chef (TBA), wine from Vintages in Fort Collins, and tours, in a picturesque garden setting. Sommelier Paul VanderTop will be available to introduce and suggest wine pairings and bottle service for dinner.

September 2, 2015 – Bumper Crop Farm Dinner at Lyons Farmette – Bumper Crop‘s chef and co-owner Gary Silverman has been cheffing for over 35 years bringing farm to table since the late 70’s. In the first 1 1/2 year of business Bumper Crop has won best of Boulder, been written up in 3 publications, on TV twice, filmed for a PBS show Urban Conversion, 1 farm to table dinner, 2 beer dinners and catered over a dozen weddings. Gary is the local chile aficionado serving the best red and green chile in Boulder County and will be bringing a taste of Sante Fe on September 2 to the Farmette for a farm to table dinner featuring 5 courses with produce from the Farmette, beef and pork from Cure Organic Farm and much more.  We look forward to feeding you. Beverages ~ This farm dinner is also a benefit for Growing Gardens. Growing Gardens will be selling wine and beer at the dinner for their organization. There will be a wonderful selection to complement the menu.  Please do not bring your own wine or beer ~ you can plan on buying it here by the bottle or glass.

September 10, 2015 – Meadowlark Farm Dinner – Join the Lyons Farmette at the Farmette as Meadowlark creates their magic for an unforgettable dinner and evening.  More information about reservations and details on their website.

September 16, 2015 – Blackbelly Farm Dinner at Lyons Farmette – Join Blackbelly chef Hosea Rosenberg and his culinary dream team at the gorgeous creekside lawn at The Lyons Farmette. This evening is sure to impress you with a seasonal multi course dinner prepared with hand chosen ingredients from the Farmette. This amazing food and our unparalleled service are sure to bring you the ultimate private chef experience.  $135 per person

September 19, 2015 – FARM DINNER – Grant Farms CSA is hosting four amazing “themed” farm dinners this summer featuring guest chefs, seasonal cuisine with produce and meats from our farm, wine from Vintages in Fort Collins, tours, live music and an elegant dinner in a picturesque garden setting. Sommelier Paul VanderTop will be available to introduce and suggest wine pairings and bottle service at each dinner. Themes range from Boots &Spurs, to Colorado Black Tie, tickets prices vary $75 to 120 ea,

September 26, 2015 – HARVEST MOON DINNER – Get back to your roots with some down-home, old time string band music around our bon fire! Grant Farms CSA invites you to join in our celebration of rustic, organic cuisine, live local music and an unforgettable evening featuring local Colorado wine and food in an intimate, elegant farm setting. Grant Farms CSA is hosting three incredible “MOONLIGHT” farm dinners this summer featuring seasonal cuisine with produce and meats from our farm, wine from Vintages in Fort Collins, tours, live music and an elegant dinner in a picturesque garden setting. Sommelier Paul VanderTop will be available to introduce and suggest wine pairings and bottle service at each dinner.

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Farm to School Update!

thumbs_a-to-z-zucchini-yukon-potato-signsThe Colorado Farm to School Task Force is asking folks to support Colorado farmers through the Farm to School Bill, HB15-1088. The bill is sponsored by Representative Faith Winter (faith.winter.house@state.co.us) and Senator Larry Crowder (larry.crowder.senate@state.co.us). Just this week the bill passed the House Appropriations Committee.

So, what does the bill do? The anticipated outcomes are two-fold. In a state where we often get kudos for being lean, they aren’t talking about the kids in the state. One way to combat obesity in children is to get them to eat healthier and understand the importance of nutritional choices. The biggest opportunity an effort like this has is through school lunch programs. The second anticipated outcome is a boost in the state’s economy, especially in rural areas, through strengthening the support of local farmers.

Two main barriers farmers have to selling their products to schools are food safety and competitive pricing. This bill creates a grant program for Colorado producers to offset the costs of labor, material and equipment needed to meet food safety guidelines and other production costs. This would allow Colorado producers to sell their products to their local schools, thus enabling schools to support local while increasing the nutrional food choices of their students with fresh local food.

Healthy SnackOn the COFTS website, it states that farmers who participate in farm to school programs see an average 5% increase in their total income. This has ripple effects that improve the health of our whole economy; studies show that each $1 invested in farm to school programs produces $2.16 of local economic activity and for every one job created by schools purchasing local food, 1.67 more jobs are created locally. That sounds like a good deal, and builds some necessary infrastructure for our smaller farms.

If this is important to you, you can show your support by signing the petition. Let the Governor and our state legislators know that this is a priority for folks across Colorado. In the coming weeks, the COFTS and their partners will be traveling around the state collecting signatures and producing events to generate momentum. They’ll keep you in the loop along the way so you know where to find us (like their Facebook page to stay in the loop).

 

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Eating Local, Eating in Season

 

Photo courtesy Be Local Northern Colorado/ Dan Bihn

Photo courtesy Be Local Northern Colorado/ Dan Bihn

If you live on the Front Range of Colorado, especially Northern Colorado, you have access to some seriously good local food. Real food. The perfect time to start eating fresh is now. No excuses.
One obstacle in transitioning to eating local is knowing where to start. I receive countless inquiries like where can I find organic food, which farm is bio-dynamic or who sells pastured poultry. Internet searches can be daunting. Knowing what you are looking for is a great first step.

Start by asking what changes you want to make. Is eating within a certain mile radius important? Do you want certified organic or just want to know your farmer uses organic practices? Do you want humanely raised meat and animal products? Raw vs. pasteurized? What small steps can I take to start eating a local diet?

Whether you want to obtain all of your dietary needs locally or just want to incorporate more fresh food into your diet, you can do that. Here are a few places to start.

Garden Sweet Farm Stand

Garden Sweet Farm Stand

Farmer’s Marketsand Roadside Farm Stands – Markets operate from April through October from Cheyenne to Denver (check out our recent post from March 29 for a great list of markets). Fort Collins even hosts a Winter Farmer’s Market for year round access. While markets are limited to certain times and days of the week, there is an amazing bounty of fresh food and value-added products. Many markets also accept SNAP benefits, increasing access to good food for those who often have limited access. There is also the bonus of meeting the farmer and being able to learn about their farm practices and alternative options for purchasing their food. Farm stands on the other hand have a lot more access as they are usually open several days of the week. Those on the honor system (a system based on trust, where there is an unstaffed stand and you pay for what you take), are typically open longer hours during the day.

CSA – Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a symbiotic relationship between farmers and their consumers. In the traditional model of farming the farmer puts up all the front end costs to plant crops and waits months for a return on their investment. That is, pending risk of any unforeseen risks, like crop failure, weather, market fluctuations, etc. Then there is the CSA model. You purchase a food share for a fixed amount of time (a season or full year). The farmer is paid up front for the share and has money to plant, plan and spend more time focused on growing crops then seeking a market during their busy time. Both parties share the risks of the season. They also share the success. As a result, the consumer has a consistent flow of seasonal food delivered or picked up from a drop location on a weekly basis. There are also options for a seasonal credit to purchase what they like when they want it directly from the farm or farmer’s market. Sounds great right?

Well there’s more. You build a beautiful relationship. As a consumer you know where your food comes from and who grows it. Some CSA’s offer work shares. You assist in the cultivation of the food on your table for a discounted share price. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t a green thumb or have a full dance card. You can take part in the experience of being a farmer, if only for a few hours. In knowing where your food comes from, you develop a trust in your food source. Your neighbor, someone in your community, who faces you week after week knows the importance of maintaining that trust and delivers a share of it to you each week. The farmer is just as invested in your health and happiness as you become in theirs. Your palate becomes attuned to the season. What you receive in your share is dependent on what your CSA offers. Find that out in advance to make the best choice for you. At last count there are more than thirty CSA’s providing to Northern Colorado.

Duck, chicken and quail eggs

Duck, chicken and quail eggs from Donoma Farms

Purchasing Protein – There are numerous ways to purchase humanely raised meat and animal products. Whether you are looking to purchase ¼, ½ or full shares of meat or individual cuts, you can. Locally you can buy chicken, lamb, duck, turkey, goat, pork, beef, buffalo and more directly from the farmer. You can also find cheese, milk, raw milk shares, eggs, and other value-added products. Many farms allow visitors. One of the best things about local eating is transparency of the system. If you choose to you can observe how your food is cultivated and harvested.

Grow Your Own – In my opinion the most satisfying option, is growing or raising your own. Whether you live in an apartment with windows or a balcony, or on a suburban lot, you can grow your own food. Now more than ever there is an abundance of information on how to do that. I have a cousin that lives in Manhattan in a high rise and they grow food in their apartment, engage in charcuterie, make their own wine, and preserve food from the local markets. If incorporating fresh food, real food, into your diet is a priority, there really are no excuses. Just get started!

 

**This is an expanded version of an article previously published in Bella Spark magazine.

 

 

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It’s time for Tour de Coop!

 

10734063_803772573041499_4142721120018088968_nAre you a chicken enthusiast? Maybe you are dreaming of taking the next step in poultry wrangling with ducks? Or you need some wonderful ideas to please that stubborn HOA’s anti-chicken stance? Well, have I got the event for you. And bonus, you get to do your next favorite thing. Bicycle.

On May 17th, 2015 from 8:30am-1:30pm “Rain or Shine” the Sustainable Living Association will be hosting the 2015 8th Annual Tour de Coop, an urban chicken spirit revival, in Fort Collins.

Join the group on a 6 to 8 mile bike ride from coop to coop in and around Fort Collins. See a variety of urban backyard chicken coops, learn about chickens from beak to butt from experienced backyard chicken owners. This year they will be including a duck stop as well, to expand your poultry knowledge.

Starting location to be announced.

Cost is $25/human, limited to 50 people, and includes lunch. If you’re interested in a lovely day of bicycles and poultry, register here – http://sustainablelivingassociation.org/event/tour-de-coop/

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