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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Harvest Festival Giveaway

Harvest Farm Fest5I’ve probably said this a hundred times, that I can’t believe it is August. And now, we are facing down September. Time flies.

The good thing about this? As we enter harvest season there are a ton of great farm related outdoor events. One of them is the 13th ANNUAL HARVEST FARM FALL FESTIVAL & CORN MAZE at Harvest Farm. The farm is host to a 10-acre corn maze, corn cannons (what??), yard games, food trucks, natural play areas, a petting zoo, pig races, hay wagon rides, pumpkins and lots more. New this year is a “Fright-free Family Day” on Saturday, October 1, featuring costume contests, peanut-free trick-or-treating, face painting and additional fun activities.

Not only is this a great family centric event. It’s also for a good cause. Harvest Farm is an outreach of the Denver Rescue Mission. The farm is a 209-acre rehabilitation program in Wellington, CO. The farm accommodates up to 72 men recovering from chronic homelessness and addition, and helps these guys re-enter society as self-sufficient members of the community. Proceeds from the festival directly support the New Life Program at Harvest Farm.

So when is the festival?

Harvest Farms in Wellington on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011. (Chris Schneider)

Harvest Farms in Wellington  (Photo: Chris Schneider)

Every weekend October 2-31, 2015

                        Fridays: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

                        Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

                        Sundays: 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

WHERE:           

                       Harvest Farm   

                       4240 E. Country Road 66

                       Wellington, CO 80549 (Exit 278 off I-25

Harvest Farm FestTICKETS:          

                       Child (0-3): FREE

                       Child (4-12): $13.00

                       Adult (13 & up):  $15.00

                       Senior (60 & up): $10.00

                       Special Discount: $10 admission on Grand Opening Weekend October 2-4

MORE INFO:     Visit www.harvestfarm.net/fall-festival for more information and to purchase tickets.

The Contest

As for the contest part? Farming Fort Collins is giving away a Family Pack of Four tickets to the festival ($56 value). All you have to do is follow us on Instagram (@farmingfortcollins) and post pictures of your favorite farm related thing this summer. Don’t forget to tell us why it was your favorite thing! Use the hashtag #harvestfarmtix and we will announce a winner September 27, 2015 on our facebook page (don’t forget to like our facebook page to find out)!

 


 

 

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From yard to fridge

meat chicken 2You may remember a post I did a while back about our first attempt at raising meat birds. In the spring we put in our order for 25 Freedom Ranger Black Broilers. A breed especially good for organic, free range environments. We planned on splitting the flock with a friend of ours. On May 6, during a wonderful cold spell, we received the call that we had a box full of peepers at the Post Office.

The hubs had built a great coop from scrap materials around the property (there really is a reason you keep piles of stuff around a farm). It can be sectioned in half to use one side as a brooder. It worked great and the birds had plenty of space until they grew enough feathers to venture out of doors and needed both sides of the coop as they grew.

coopThese birds are a heritage variety and take the normal twelve weeks to reach maturity. They don’t grow too fast and they didn’t have any difficulties as they packed on the pounds, unlike your average industrial raised chickens, which take a mere seven to eight weeks to reach market weight.

We fed them organic grain, which is pricey and we will be seeking out cheaper organic alternatives in bulk to keep the costs down. All the birds did well and I am happy to say we didn’t lose a single bird. All of them made it to processing day.

The weekend of August 1 would have been the ideal date to process. But our friend was getting married that day, and we have just returned from a week of camping. So, we waited until our friend returned from his honeymoon, and scheduled the processing for yesterday morning.

Black Freedom RangersIt took about an hour to set up in the morning. We purchased a table, some cutting boards, scalpels, gloves, buckets, and bags and borrowed a high top steel table, propane burner and pot. The rest of the supplies we had. We set up a kill area, and a plucking area with a propane burner and large pot with a table for plucking, and another area for gutting. Our friend and his aunt, an experienced processor, came by around 10am and we began. All in all it took approximately three hours to get all 25 birds processed and into the fridge. Another hour to clean everything up. We had a great system of one person killing, two pluckers and one gutting.

The birds are chilling in the fridge for a couple days until they head to the freezer. The breed of bird is touted as a great gourmet bird, with a lot of flavor. As soon as we brine and roast one I’ll let you know if the hype is true.

In the end the cost per bird was about $16 each, due mainly to feed costs and extending the processing three weeks (a bag of feed each week). For the future, we will look to improve by reducing those feed costs.

The best part, raising something the right way for your dinner table. The satisfaction of that beats out everything else.

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Peach Festival Time

peachesThis weekend is the Peach Festival in Fort Collins on Saturday, August 22. The event is free, but parking is $5. The festival is at Hughes Stadium, 1800 S. Overland Trail. This is a great event for peach loving families.

The festival is run on a ticket system, $1 for each ticket, which can be used to purchase food, activities, and of course peaches (by the bag or by the box!). There will be lots of food vendors, music and kids activities. Don’t forget a hat, some sunscreen and the family. There is a full day of events that you won’t want to miss. And if you need an excuse to eat that piece of peach pie, register for the 5k run/walk. Then you won’t feel so bad if you have a slice, or two. Enjoy!!

 

Schedule of Events

8:00   5K Run/Walk
8:30   Peachy Donation Pancake Breakfast
9:00   Healthy Kids Fun Run
9:00   Peach Festival Begins
9:00-11:00   Winchester HolidayLive Independent Rock
11:00   Cheer & Dance Connection
11:15   Peach Pie Eating Contest #1 (enter at the Pie sales booth)
11:30-1:30   American BlackoutLive Alternative Rock
1:45   Peach Pie Eating Contest #2 (enter at the Pie sales booth)
2:00-4:00   The CommonersLive Irish Rock
3:00   Watch the Pro Cycle Challenge Bike Racers go by the Peach Festival! Just before 3pm the bikers will be racing right by Hughes Stadium on Overland Trail and County Road 42C! Be sure to get to the festival before 2pm to avoid the traffic! Overland Trail will be closed while the bikers zoom by.
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Diggin’ It – Bike to Farm

FoCo FreshWe have a very strong bike, beer, farm culture here in Fort Collins. It’s a great thing when we get to combine all the things we love into one fun event. Funkwerks is doing just that with their Biking Farm Tours. So if you need a little mid-week pick me up and want to try something new, check this out.

Every Wednesday in August Funkwerks is working with a local farm to host a farm tour. Tours are free, but donations to the farm are encouraged. Meet everyone at Funkwerks at 1900 East Lincoln Avenue in Fort Collins. Come early for a beer before you head out. Beer is included with the tour. 

Here’s a schedule of upcoming tours the next couple weeks.

Wednesday, August 19th and the group will bike to FoCo fresh Farm at 5pm.

Wednesday, August 26th and the group will bike to Friendly Critters Farm at 5pm.

Please RSVP by e-mailing feedback@funkwerks.com with your name, number of people and a phone number.

And ride safe!

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Grower Profile – Randi Johnson the Flower Girl of Colorado

Randi JohnsonI’ve been the lucky recipient of a mason jar bouquet from local grower/florist Randi Johnson. It was such a treat. If you’ve been in Restaurant 415, Jaws Sushi, or the Mayor of Old Town and wondered where their gorgeous flower arrangements came from, wonder no longer. Randi, owner of The Flower Girl of Colorado, is the artist behind these amazing arrangements. While our schedules weren’t conducive to an in-person visit and tour of her gardens, I was lucky enough to do an interview with her so I could share this local treasure with all of you.

Randi isn’t a Fort Collins or Colorado native. She was raised in Otsego, Minnesota which is a small suburb about 45 minutes north of Minneapolis. She moved to Fort Collins two months after graduating high school, when she was 17, with her best friend Kate. Kate’s aunt and uncle lived here in Fort Collins and neither of them had any kind of plan for school, nor did they want to stay in MN so they decided to move and ended up here. That was eight years ago. I get it. Fort Collins has a way of hooking a person. 

She started school at Front Range Community College when she moved here in 2007 not having any idea what she wanted to do with her life. She branched out and started taking horticulture classes and an English class focusing on environmental emphasis. That English class was very unique,  reading Michael Pollan, working in community gardens and attending the sustainable living fair for class credits. Between the English class and her horticulture classes, she really began to take an interest in plants and gardening. They became two things that she never got sick of learning about.  For the longest time she thought she wanted to own a small farm, growing food, raising animals and having a small seasonal restaurant in which all of the items on the menu came from her farm. As anyone who has done even one of those things can attest to, you know it to be a lofty goal. She worked in the restaurant industry since 16 and after doing a lot of thinking decided she isn’t the right person to be in charge of people’s food, so she slept on it for a few more weeks and woke up one morning after having a life changing dream and realized it was flowers she loves and flowers that she is so passionate about! Grateful for that dream, she started moving toward putting it into fruition.

Garden 1This is Randi’s third season running her own business as a farmer florist. She got started growing flowers when she was 23 years old by approaching Meghan and Michael of Spring Kite Farms at the end of the growing season in 2012, asking them if they would ever have any interest in having flowers as part of their farm. Lucky for her, they were interested and presented her with an opportunity to have a space to grow flowers at their farm. Having no idea what she was doing when she first started, she found out just how much you can learn after one short season from getting your hands dirty and being passionate about what you do. She’s taught herself everything she knows how to do. Reading a lot and doing a lot of research about cut flowers and being out in the field with her flowers everyday is what has taught her the most. The community has been very supportive too. She explains, “It is rewarding to go to a farmers market and have so many people come up and compliment your work. And honestly, I impress myself sometimes! I finish a bouquet and think, “how did I come up with that?” I feel like I have a natural gift when it comes to creating bouquets and growing flowers and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.” 

Farmer's Mkt SignHer dad always taught her that happiness is the most important thing in this life. Flowers are what make her happy and she can truly say that she loves her job. Randi never knew she could be so passionate about something and she feels grateful to have found her niche at such a young age. It is really hard to drop everything and focus on a passion that might not make you money right away but her flowers keep her going from day to day and she hopes to inspire others to branch out from society and do what makes them happy in this life. Her business is inspired by her strong beliefs, supporting a local economy, reducing her carbon footprint and doing something that she feels good about each day. 

Each year Randi starts all of her flowers from seed in her guest room each spring. Her main garden is in her back yard and she also has a second space near shields and prospect in a friend’s yard, which she sees as a huge blessing. All of the flowers used in her bouquets are her own unless she has a client who wants something very specific that she doesn’t grow. For example, she had a bride in June who wanted peach roses and had to order those in. But 99% of the time, all the flowers are her own for the farmers market, restaurants, businesses, events and weddings. 

As many farmers and growers can relate to, Randi loves growing and arranging her flowers but doesn’t really enjoy selling them! She’s been lucky to have most of her business come from word of mouth and people will reach out to her when they need flowers! A favorite thing for her is wedding flowers and seeing photos of her work in the hands of a beautiful bride on one of the happiest days of her life. It is somewhat emotional for Randi and very rewarding to her to make a couples day so special and beautiful. 

Bouquet 1In looking toward the future, the dream for the business is to someday be booked out with weddings and events from May-October. Other then planning, having meetings, traveling and starting seeds, she’d like to take most of the winter off. Her goal is to obtain about 3 acres to grow on with a green house and workshop space. She envisions a family run operation and only having a few employees each season. Her farmer florist idol is Erin Benzakein of Floret Flowers.  Randi claims she is amazing, and looks up to her and wants to be just like her when she gets older.

A curiousity of mine is the sustainability of our local growers and farmers. So I asked Randi about that. Currently, and quickly I may add, she is able to make a living just running her flower business and is not having to work a day job right now, which she says she is so thankful for. Having worked at Restuarant 415 the past three plus years, she finally called it quits at the start of her growing season this spring. She can do this making about 20-25 bouquets each week on average. If she has a wedding or event she may make 40-50+ bouquets. But truly it varies from week to week and she likes that it is spontaneous and keeps her on her toes! 

I imagine it would be hard to have a favorite flower or arrangement, being surrounded by so much beauty. But really, we all have favorites. When asked, Randi said she has a lot of favorite flowers and arrangements and that is a question she gets often and has a very hard time answering. As she says, “I breathe, eat and sleep flowers from February-October and I have so many favorites! If I had to pick a few they would be Iceland poppies, double click cosmos, asters, delphinium, bells of Ireland, Chinese-forget-me-not, spider plant, and the list goes on… ” 

Bouquet 2If you are interested in going the local route with your flower purchases, you can find Randi Thursday evenings at the Jessup Farm Open Air Market. She also accepts random orders coming in from local businesses for bouquet deliveries. She loves weddings and will be doing flowers for five weddings this season! You can also have custom flower crowns made, which she would like to do more often. The hope is to hold a mason jar bouquet workshop in September. Details and examples of her work are regularly posted on her Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/theflowergirlco) and Instagram (theflowergirlofco) pages, which often brighten my day during the season. The pictures are stunning. A website is also in her future. As of now Randi doesn’t have a flower CSA, but it is something she’s considering for the future (I can’t wait!!).  She also takes special orders for events and weddings. She’s done bouquet deliveries for baby showers, birthday parties, office parties, farm dinners and weddings! Most people contact her via phone or email (theflowergirlofco@gmail.com) and if it is a large order, like for a wedding you can set up a meeting with her to discuss your floral needs. 

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Field Day 2015 in Greeley

The USDA Agricultural Research Service – Water Management Research Unit, Colorado State University Extension, Civil & Environmental Engineering and the Department, and Soil & Crop Sciences Department are hosting a Field Day in Greeley on the topic of Monitoring and Managing Limited Irrigation Water.

The event, on Friday, August 21, 2015,  will include field tours and demonstrations from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm which lunch following the scheduled tours (about 1-1/2 hours each). There will be demonstrations of research that maximize productivity with limited water supplies and management practices and technologies to monitor and manage limited irrigation water. Topics of discussion will include

• Yield and productivity with reduced irrigation

• Measurement of plant water stress

• Scheduling regulated deficit irrigation

• Irrigation scheduling tool demonstration

• Estimating consumptive use (evapotranspiration) with deficit irrigation

• Measurements to manage and document (monitor) consumptive use savings and support Alternative Ag Water Transfer Methods (including remote sensing

The location of the event is the USDA Central Plains Limited Irrigation Research Farm, 30900 CR 45, Greeley, Colorado (SE corner of CR45 and CR64). Contact Bradley Floyd for more information or to RSVP Bradley.Floyd@ars.usda.gov

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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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