Grower Profile – Randi Johnson the Flower Girl of Colorado

I’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 ...

For the love of eggs…

If 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. ...

Farmer Profile: Bailey Stenson of Happy Heart Farm

It 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 ...

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Hard Cider Brine

Tom the turkeyIt’s the countdown. Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Maybe you are trying a fresh local organic turkey or maybe you bought a frozen bird. Either way, the best turkey in my humble opinion is a brined turkey. It adds flavor and locks in the juices. No one wants dry turkey!

I am always looking for new brine recipies. The more local food I eat, the more I use brine. When your dinner has had a chance to roam, hunt bugs and sunshine, and build muscle instead of just fat, I find the brines tenderize the meat a bit. And add flavor, which is always welcome. This year I looked at dozens of recipes for apple cider brines. Which merges my two favorite things…apples and turkey. And for you hard cider lovers, here’s another way to add some local brewed flavor to your dinner.

So, make sure you have a big stock pot to make the brine. If you have a big enough pot to hold the brine and turkey, even better. The pot will go into the fridge, so make sure there is room. If you don’t have a big enough pot, no need to worry. I’ve used a five gallon bucket double lined with plastic bags, either those turkey bags at the grocery store or a couple kitchen garbage bags. Now, if your fridge isn’t large enough, place the bucket in a large tub or cooler packed with ice.

In a large pot add:

boiled cider1 cup boiled cider

4 cups hard cider (local options abound in Fort Collins)

8 cups of apple cider

4 cinnamon sticks

4 bay leaves

one tablespoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon whole allspice

2 cups kosher salt

1 heaping cup of brown sugar

Bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes, slightly reducing the mix.

The let cool slightly and add the herbs: 4 sprigs each of oregano, rosemary and thyme.

Grab your turkey, which should have all the giblets and neck removed. Make sure it is rinsed well and patted dry.

Once the brine is cooled, add one gallon of ice water. Then, add the turkey, making sure the cavity of the turkey fills with liquid. Cover and let sit in the fridge 10 – 12 hours. Turn once or twice during that time.

Once you are ready to cook the turkey rinse to remove the herbs and spices and pat dry again. If you are one of those folks who fries your turkey, patting dry is crucial!! Moisture makes the cooking oil splatter, which is a major fire hazard. Don’t burn your home down!

Otherwise, roast your turkey based on the directions according to its size.


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Winter Farmer’s Market

1434042450341It’s November. So much of our seasonal abundance is on the decline. CSA shares are wrapping up, unless you extended the season with a winter share or bought a full year option. Either way, eating local in winter takes a little more thought.


With that said, think about checking out the Winter Farmer’s Market in Old Town Fort Collins at the Opera Galleria. The market, hosted by the NoCo Food Cluster, will be open at least two, sometimes three, Saturdays a month. You will find all manner of fresh and local vegetables, mushrooms, sauces, meats, eggs, cheese and more! Each year just gets better and better. And, it’s perfect timing to get all of your holiday fare. (Have you ordered your Thanksgiving turkey yet??)


Here is the schedule:

November 2015 – April 2016

  • November 14, 21 and 28

  • December 12, 19 and 26

  • January 2, 16 and 30

  • February 13 and 27

  • March 12 and 26

  • April 9 and 23


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Colorado B2B Farmers’ Market

imageOn November 3, from 10 to 3, there will be a free Colorado Business to Business Farmers’s Market in the RiNo Art District in Denver (3600 Wynkoop Street, Denver).

This is an opportunity for food and farm businesses to meet, greet and create new business relationships with restaurants, caterers, distributors and purchasers. The event is free, no frills and a great way to connect Colorado food producers to Colorado buyers.

If you’re a farmer or producer get yourself a booth to display your business. Technical assistance providers will also be available, and are listed on the website based on your business.

All attendees and participants need to register. You can learn more and register at




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Cultured Colorado

1444170895670If you are a lover of all things fermented and pickled you are going to want to check out Denver’s first annual cultured foods festival. Cultured Colorado, featuring the king of fermentation Sandor Katz, is being held October 19-23, 2015. The event is an effort to promote the health of citizens and soils through the revival of cultured foods with eight public events in Boulder and Denver. The Cultured Food Guild hopes to make this an annual event.

The event schedule is as follows:

October 18 – Zeal Restaurant in Boulder will host a workshop on Fermented Vegetables – Beyond Kraut, with Kirsten Shockey from 3:00 to 5:00 pm.

October 19 – The Nutrition Therapy Institute at Capital Hill United Neighbors in Denver will host guest speakers Kirsten Shockey, Bevin Clare and Sandor Katz from noon to 5:00 pm.

October 19 – The Flatirons Food Festival will host a film screening of Symphony of the Soil along with Sandor Katz, the Fermented Food Fair and a book signing from 6:30 to 9:30 pm.

October 20 – Alfalfa’s in Louisville with host a fermentation workshop with Kirsten Shockey “What to do with that jar now that you have it” from 5:00 to 8:00 pm.

October 20 – Denver Urban Gardens will be having a fundraiser at the Historic Posner Center in Denver. There will be workshops and events with Sandor Katz, Kirsten Shockey, Hannah Abram and David Kainer from 2:00 to 10:00 pm.

October 21 – Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place with the Boulder County Aids Project in Boulder will be hosting guest speakers Chef Ann Cooper, Jeffrey Callaway, Helen Dohrman and Mike Meader followed by a conversation and Hors d’oeuvres with Sandor Katz.

October 22 – A presentation and Book Signing on The Art of Fermentation will be held at Bauman College in Boulder with Sandor Katz from 1:00 to 3:30 pm.

October 23 – Friday Fermentation Fete – Presented by O’Zuke and the Boulder County Farmer’s Market at Frog Belly Farms in Longmont. Classes and workshops with Sandor Katz, Brigette Mars, Elias Davis, Benoit de Korsak, Nick Van Horn, Dan Phelps and Ben Mustin followed by vendors, food trucks, music, dancing and beer. The event is from 3:00 to 9:00 pm.

Check out the website for more detailed information and learn how to RSVP for the various events.

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It’s all about pie

apple cartThis is a hard year for the fruit growers. Recently I posted a blog from Ela Farms on FFC’s facebook page. This tough season left them with a crop that was only about 5% of their normal haul. That’s the kind of year that can put a person out of business. Masonville Orchards are having their fair share of difficulty as well.

So what that means is you better make what you can get count. My vote is always for pie. So I am going to share a recipe that folks always ask me for.


Crust (I’ve shared this part before)

  • 2 1/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup vegetable shortening
  • 6 to 7 tbs. cold water

A good non-bleached flour is best, sometimes mixing it half and half with a wheat pastry flour. I prefer sea salt over table. It has a strong flavor so moderation is key. Earth Balance shortening in the sticks is the only way to go. Once I made this crust with it I haven’t used anything else.

Mix all the ingredients, except the water in a food processor, pulsing about 15 times until you have a crumbly mixture. Then, add the tbs. of water, first 4 then pulse a couple times, then the last two and pulse a couple times. The mixture should stick together without being too wet and gooey, and should not crumble too easily. The trick to pie crust is not to over work it. You should split the batch into two dough balls.

Flour your rolling surface and from the middle of the ball of dough working out. Back and forth works the dough a bit much and can cause tears in the dough. Work firmly and evenly until the dough is to your thickness liking. Somewhere around a 1/4 inch. Flouring the rolling pin helps too. The dough shouldn’t stick to the pin. Place the first dough circle into the bottom of your pie plate and keep the second for the top.


  • 7-8 apples
  • Honey to cover
  • cinnamon
  • all spice
  • brown sugar
  • tapioca flour

I love a good tart apple. I usually use a Granny Smith, maybe mixed with something a little softer. Back east, it was the Macoun. For local apples, I’ve used Jonathons, Honey Crisps and Goldens.

I cut the apples with one of those fancy apple corers and leave them thick. In a large bowl I pour honey over the apples. To cover but not drown. You don’t want too much of a good thing. Sprinkle cinnamon and all spice to taste. I don’t usually measure my spices here because I like a spicy pie. The usual is 1/2 to 1 teaspoon. I am almost sure I use a bit more. I also sprinkle brown sugar to add some depth to the honey. Usually a small handful to sprinkle over. Mix well and then sprinkle in tapioca flour like the brown sugar. I use slightly more with softer apples, less with the firmer varieties.

In the pie plate that that already has the first layer of crust in, pile the apples just over the top. Too high and you may have some serious air in the top of your pie if you are using softer varieties of apples. Cover with the second crust, and cut the edges that exceed the edge of the plate. Then crimp the edges. I whip an egg white and brush the top crust and sprinkle some coarse sugar on top. Cut some vents in the top of the crust.

Bake for appx. an hour at 350 degrees. I always watch for the bubbling of the filling near the vents to tell me it’s done. If the crust is browning too quickly just place a piece of tinfoil loosely on the top. Let cool and then enjoy a slice. I’ve found the tapioca better than flour for keeping the filling firm rather than too runny. Usually looks nice sliced.

I hope you enjoy your favorite fall flavors this season.


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Boulder County Building Farmers Program

Building FarmersColorado started its Building Farmers program in 2007. Since 2007, over 300 producers have completed the program, almost 200 developed business plans and 23 subsequently worked under the guidance of an experienced producer-mentor to implement their plans and advance their business goals.

Applications are being accepted through September 28 for the Boulder County Building Farms “Principles” Course, an 8 week course offered in Longmont beginning October 21. The Colorado Building Farmers program builds farm community and farmer capacity through classroom and experiential learning for beginning farmers (0–10 years’ experience). The course is a series of 8 evening classes designed to help new farmers explore farming as a business and provide intermediate and experienced farmers with tools and ideas to refine and enhance their business management, production, and marketing skills. For more information, visit

Who Should Participate? New Farmers: <1/4 acre and/or < 1 year and/or intern, apprentice level experience (large gardens and/or on-farm), Intermediate Farmer: production/marketing manager or sole operator, >1/4 acre for <3 years, or Experienced Farmers: production/marketing manager or sole operator, >1/4 acre for >3 years. Participants will build a business plan over the 8 weeks course. Cost is $230 for all 8 sessions for new farmers ($350 for 2 with one set of handouts), $120 for all 8 sessions for intermediate farmers or $90 for all 8 sessions or $25 a la carte for experienced farmers.

Program Lineup Dinner 5:30 – 6:15 p.m. Presentations 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Wed, Oct 21 – “Activation Energy”: Lara Miller, Michael Moss, Peter Volz on farm startup, farmer remark “if I knew then what I know now”

Wed, Oct 28 – “Strategic Business Planning”: Martha Sullins on key planning concepts

Wed, Nov 4 – “Marketing Planning”: Katie Slota, Native Hill Farm. “Marketing Channel Panel” buyers and retailers on sales opportunities: farm stand, farmers markets, wholesale, restaurants and school districts

Thurs, Nov 12 – “Enterprise Budgeting and Recordkeeping”: Anne Cure, Cure Organic Farm; “Lenders Review” how to prepare for financing: FSA, American Ag Credit, CADA,

Wed, Nov 18 – “Intro to Risk Mgt Panel”: professionals on best practices to manage liabilities: safety, contracts, workforce, etc.

Wed, Dec 2 – “Supplemental Income Streams”: Wendy White, Colo Dept of Ag, and Natalie Condon, Isabelle Farm, on farm income other than from raw ag products

Thurs, Dec 10 and Wed, Dec 16 – Presentations of Course Participant Business Plans for audience review and comment*

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Pumpkin and Corn Maze Season is coming!

imagesBRR9UZLOYou’ve probably been seeing all the adds about pumkin flavored everything coming soon. It’s Labor Day and that means fall is upon us. I don’t know about you, but I’m not ready. This luxurious four day weekend I’ve had has been all about laboring, around the property, and getting ready for the oncoming fall. The coop is clean. And smells wonderful, if that’s possible. The house has been cleaned. The turkeys continue to get fattened up. And the property is mowed. For the most part. After cleaning up the garden and putting it to rest, I think we’ve got fall cleaning down.

Now, the other part of fall. Well, that is all about family, friends and having fun. Part of that fun is Corn Mazes! Up here in Northern Colorado we do harvest festival time right, and that means pumpkin patches and corn mazes. I’ve put together a list of some of the options in the area. And if you like to get your scared on, well we can accommodate those tastes as well.

So grab your compass and your headlamp and get out for a fall adventure!

Anderson FarmsAnderson Farms

This maze is open September 23 through November 1. The farm is located at 6728 County Road 3 1/4 in Erie, Colorado 80516. Check out their website for daily hours.

In addition to the usual family activities like: the 30-acre corn maze, hay rides, a pumpkin patch, animal acres, pumpkin launching, pedal karts, mine cars, barrel train, farm animals, kiddie korral, tire mountain, hay bale maze, gem mining, private campfire sites (5pm to close, Thursday through Sundays), and live entertainment, the maze also hosts Terror in the Corn (September 25-October 31) and Zombie paintball starting at 7pm on select nights.

Prices range from $10 to $13 for regular admission and $20 to $55 for Terror in the Corn, Zombie Paintball and various packages. Children under 3 are free. Discounts for groups and Seniors are available.

Bartels Farm

Join the farm for its 11th annual pumpkin patch! This maze is open daily September 17 through October 31, 10 – 6pm. The farm is located at 3424 E. Douglas Road, Fort Collins, Colorado.

A kid friendly choice, they offer a corn maze, hay rides, pumpkin patch, punkin chuckin, farm animals and a straw bale maze for the wee ones. As the corn maze is hand cut, it’s not very stroller friendly or for those who are physically challenged.

Prices range from free (0-5), $6 (kids) and $8 (adults), hay rides $2. Admission to the pumpkin patch and it’s events, along with the mini straw maze for the small ones is free.

Fritzler’s Corn Maze

This maze is open weekends in September and every day except Monday and Tuesday in October, running from September 19 through October 31. The farm is located at 20861 County Road 33, LaSalle, Colorado. Check out their website for daily hours as it changes through the season.

Plenty of fun choices here. Fritzler’s has a corn maze, helicopter rides, go carts, concession stands, a family maze, kids activities, corn and small pumpkin shooting, personal camp fire sites for reservation, and some seriously scary evening activities like Scream Town and Zombie Slayer paintball. There are more activities than I can mention here!

Prices vary depending on activities. Check their website for pricing. Non-scary activities start at $12 and Scary activities start at $20. Discounts for kids ages 3-10 and combo prices available.

Harvest Farm wagon ridesHarvest Farm

This maze is open daily October 2 through October 31, Friday through Sundays. The farm is located at 4240 East County Road 66, Wellington, Colorado.

As part of their annual fall festival, they offer a corn maze, petting zoo, pig races, corn cannons, pumpkin junction, hay rides, evening camp fires, food trucks and more for all ages.

Prices range from free (0-3), $13 (4-12) and $15 (13 and up). Discount options for seniors and group rates.

**Don’t forget about our Instagram contest to win a Family Four Pack of tickets ($56 value). Just like Farming Fort Collins on Instagram and share your favorite summer pics for a chance to win. Use the hashtag #harvestfarmtix.

Northern Colorado Corn Maze

No current information was available at the time of posting. Check there website for any updates for the 2015 season.


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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.


                       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 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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