I recently came across a new resource covering the Upper Arkansas River Valley in Central Colorado. This group, and their website, provide support and resources to existing female farmers. As they put it, women are the fastest growing sector of sustainable and organic farmers. So to celebrate one another is to support one another.
The site showcases half a dozen female farmers in the Buena Vista/Salida area. There is also a resource list of various types of agriculture ongoing the area. Pretty cool to see farmers supporting farmers.
Another way they are supporting women in agriculture is through a new festival called the Sweet Roots Festival, to be held in Buena Vista. This festival will host music, a farm dinner, farm tours and presentations, while raising money to provide microcredit loans to female farmers around the world with the organization 1% for Women.
Right now, and for just five more days, they have an indiegogo campaign to raise money for the musicians, like Wendy Woo, Angie Stevens, Megan Burt, Paper Bird and more.
Winter is upon us. You probably aren’t thinking about summer bounty, unless it’s with longing. Thank goodness for the Winter Market in Old Town to keep us going with some fresh produce. Its also time to figure out where you are going to get your fresh produce for the spring/summer season to come.
If you keep thinking you’d like to try a CSA option to meet your individual or family needs, now is the time to make the time to make the leap and purchase next year’s share, or at the very least explore your options. Some of the farms have limited shares available and sell out quick, so if you have a farm of choice make sure you know when shares go on sale. There are also many share options and price ranges to meet your needs. Do you want veggies only? Veggies and meat? Meat and dairy? Cheese and fruit? Bread and other value added products? All of the above? Trust me, there are no limits to what is available to us in Northern Colorado, as far as fresh, locally and sustainably grown food.
For those of you who have never heard of a CSA, and I know that exists because folks ask me what it means all the time, I offer the following description. A CSA is a symbiotic relationship between farmers and their community. In the traditional model of farming the farmer puts up all front end costs to plant their crops and may wait several months before a return on their investment. That is, pending any unforeseen occurrences, like crop failure, weather, market fluctuation, or crazy blizzards in May, hail in August and flash floods. Farming is very risky business. Especially this traditional model. The farmer takes all the risk. Then, there is the CSA model in it’s various forms. The consumer (that’s you) purchases a food share (that’s now) for a fixed amount of time (18-26 weeks). The farmer then has the financial resources for the season ahead to purchase seeds and equipment, lease land, expand operations and focus on preparations, rather than being distracted by the insecurity that comes with stretching pennies for such an extended time. Both parties in the relationship share the risk that comes when success is dependent on so many factors. They also share the success! As a result, the community member has a consistent flow of seasonal food delivered or picked up from a drop location on a weekly basis or a seasonal credit to purchase what they like from the farmer when they want it. Sounds great right? Well, there is more.
The added bonus is the building of a beautiful relationship. You as a consumer get to know where your food is coming from and who is growing it. You can assist on the farm for a discount and be a part of cultivating the food that comes to your table. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a green thumb or you have a full dance card. You can always find a couple hours to take part in the magic and experience of being a farmer, even if it’s only a few hours a month or a year. In knowing where your food comes from you also develop a deep trust in your food source. Your neighbor, someone in your community, who has to face you week after week knows the importance of maintaining that trust and delivers a share of it to you each week. The farmer becomes just as invested in your health and food security as you become in theirs.
And then we get to my favorite part. The food!!! Fresh, picked within hours or a day of delivery. Typically enough to feed your family well, very well, for the week. In some cases, you have access to larger quantities to can and preserve to extend your season. Your palatte becomes attuned to the seasons. And so does your wallet.
The cost of a typical share can run anywhere from $230 for a small work share (yes folks, that is the cost for the season!), where you work a specified number of hours during the season to receive the discount, to $500 and up for various full shares, no work. Full diet shares, where you receive all your nutritional needs from veggies, to meat, eggs, dairy and value added products are typically in the $1000 + range. Broken down, we are talking an average weekly price of $10-$25 for a regular veggie market share. Knowing what comes in a share, I can tell you this is the most cost effective way to purchase good local food. When was the last time you bought vegetables for a week for only $25? Doesn’t sound like my trips to the market. Many of the farms also accept SNAP benefits, so be sure to ask if you can apply them toward a share.
Finding a CSA can feel like a daunting process. Our luxury problem hear in Northern Colorado is that there are so many options, it may take a little leg work to find out what works for you. Many of the questions I receive lead me to believe the following are at the top of the question list for most folks. What is my flexibility in what I receive? Is there a farm or pick up location near me? Are the pick-ups times convenient for my work schedule? Lucky for you, there will be a farm that answers yes to all your questions.
The following is a list of farms with various options, and trust me, it is not exhaustive of all the front range has to offer. I merely do my best! (Click on the farm name if bold for a link to websites)
- Bayberry Fresh - winter greens/herbs share
- Cresset Farm
- Ela Family Farm - fruit shares
- Fossil Creek Farms
- Gaia’s Farm and Gardens
- Garden Sweet - market style CSA
- Grant Farm
- Green Dog Farm
- Happy Heart Farm
- Integrity Farm
- Jodar Farm - meat shares
- Lakeridge Farm
- Leffler Family Farm
- Miller Farms
- Monroe Organic Farm
- Native Hill Farm
- Ole Dern Farm
- On the Vine at Richmond Farms
- Raindrop Retreat
- Revive Gardens
- Shire CSA
- Spring Kite Farm
- Fiddletown Bakery – bread shares
Whew! That’s a long list!
And, if you want to know what’s available and in season and where to get it, sign up for our free bi-weekly newsletter From the Field, delivered to your inbox! How easy is that.
My schedule has changed recently. I’ve tried to keep up with my current posting schedule of Thursdays and Sundays, but as you’ve probably noticed that hasn’t worked out so well. At least not for the Thursday posting. I apologize for the inconsistency.
So, I just wanted to let you all know that the posting schedule for Farming Fort Collins will continue to be Sundays and starting next week the weekday post will be on Wednesdays.
In addition, winter tends to be a slow time for the farming community and activities. I will definitely keep you up to date on what’s happening. If there is a specific topic you’d like to read about, or questions you’d like answered, please email me at Erica@farmingfortcollins.com, and I will do my best to oblige.
Thanks for your support! Check back on Sunday for the latest!
The second public comment period on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is now open until December 15. The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition is asking folks to participate in what they recognize to be the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety practices since 1938.
FMSA includes new regulations for produce farms and facilities that process food for people to eat. Without input from farmers and producers, it leaves getting the regulations right up to chance.
If you’re interested in commenting on the rule making, you can do so online or via regular mail. Commenting is different than signing a petition in favor or against something. You actually have to write or cut and paste your input, depending on which communication tool you choose.
Online be sure to choose the correct issue page to comment on, either the Produce Rule or the Preventative Controls Rule. If you want to comment on both, you need to fill in both comment sections for each rule. (There is a 5000 character limit online).
To comment by mail, send your correspondence to:
Division of Dockets Management
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20852
Remember, all letters must be postmarked by December 15 to be considered!
Today the National Young Farmer’s Coalition is launching a new campaign to have farmers added to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Like doctors, teachers, government employees and non-profit workers, the Coalition believes farmers provide a critical public good for our communities.
Right now they are asking farmers to take their online survey about their loans. You can also sign up to receive more information about the campaign to incentivize young people to grow food!
I’m Diggin’ it.
Last year the bloggers in the network came up with this crazy idea of a giveaway. We were thinking of something fun to do with our readers while everyone is focused on the holidays, and something that nobody else in Fort Collins would do. We came up with this idea and it spiraled into 27 businesses pitching in to create an incredible prize pack for one lucky winner. We had over 5,500 entries, and it was a blast.
Since it was so much fun,me decided to do it again this year! This time there are 35 businesses who’ve pooled gift citric ages and gift bags together to create a giveaway valued at almost $2,000. One lucky person will win the whole pack, getting an opportunity to experience Fort Collins at its fullest.
All of the bloggers in The Scoop blog network write about aspects of Fort Collins that they love the most – history, arts, food, outdoors – the stuff
that makes out city enjoyable. We create places online for people to learn about what makes Fort Collins “Fort Collins”, and you know what? It’s all of us that make our city what it is. With to giveaway we’re connecting evaders together with OAS, businesses, neighbors, and community. That right there is the fun.
Here’s how it works
We’re using this lovely Rafflecopter system to collect your entries. It will show you how much time is left to enter, how many people have submitted entires, and how many entries you’ve earned.
Each reader will get:
- one entry for every blog account they follow
- three entries each for signing up for newsletters
- five entries for telling us what your favorite blog is
- five entries for giving us some constructive criticism
- five entries for every time you tweet this contest to your friends on twitter (entrants can do this once a day)
- ten entries for referring friends to the giveaway.
The more entries you have, the higher your chances of winning! One reader will be randomly selected and emailed to pick up the most epic prize pack given away in Fort Collins. There’s one addition to the giveaway this year – the winner agrees to take photos of themselves using the prizes throughout the year and send them to me so we can see how awesome your 2015 is going.
We love blogging about Fort Collins and we’re excited to celebrate living in this great city with you!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck, high fives to our awesome readers, and thanks to all of the businesses who support us and made this giveaway possible!
Thank you to all of these businesses for donating to the giveaway and supporting The Scoop Blog Network! If you’d like to donate, it’s not too late. We would be happy to include more items. We’ll keep everyone updated on new items added to the prize list! Just email Kristin at Kristin@thescoopblogs.com for details.
- Matador Mexican Grill
- Cohere Community
- The Second You
- Higher Ground Rehearsal Studios
- Next Door Food & Drink
- Prima Body Wear
- A Place For Grace
- Horse & Dragon Brewery
- Kids Town Drop-in Childcare Center
- Amy Morgan, cellist from Post Paradise
- Spice & Tea Exchange
- Merle Norman
- Uncle Andy’s Jerky
- Krazy Karl’s Pizza
- Nuance Chocolate
- The Fox and The Crow
- Monique Renee Photography
- All Star Cleaning Services
- Larimer County Natural Resources
- Lori Radcliff – Stella & Dot
- Magic Bus Tours
- Blue Skies Winery
- Pateros Creek Brewery
- Dezel Shallenberg, RMT
- A-Maize’n Kettle Corn
- Allison Ziraldo, health coach
- Jason Speciner, CFP with Long Green Planning Group
- Kansas City Kitty
- Fly High Trampoline Park
- Pinball Jones
- Nancy Bond Insurance
- St. Peter’s Fly Shop
- Krav Maga Institute
So, what do you do with that massive turkey carcass from your recent Thanksgiving feast? If you went the local organic route, you likely paid somewhere in the vicinity of $7 lb, maybe more, for that bird. Makes you want to use every last scrap of it, doesn’t it?
Maybe you’ve seen articles or heard talk about the wonders of bone broth. It is an amazing thing to have handy in the winter months. I like to warm up a cup of it in place of a hot tea in the evening. It warms you right down to your, yup you guessed it, right down to your bones.
So, when looking at that ravaged carcass let the lightbulb go off and grab your crock pot, or a stock pot, and get down with some slow cooking.
I usually look around to see what I have handy to put in it. A simple basic recipe is as follows:
Turkey carcass, parts and any gizzards left over.
Water to cover, about 12 cups should do, depending on the size of your pot.
Onion, garlic, celery, carrots and any other veggies you think would add good flavor.
Herbs and spices, like parsley, bay leaves, salt and pepper. (I prefer sea salt and use it sparingly as a flavor enhancer rather than a flavor itself)
1 tablespoon of cider vinegar (helps leach out all the goodness in the bones)
Put the turkey carcass, parts, and gizzards in the crock pot and cover with water. Cook on high for two hours.
Skim the soup and remove any meat and parts at this time, returning all the bones and cartilage back into the pot.
Reduce the temp to low and add all the other ingredients to the crock pot, with the exception of any green herbs (like parsley). Add the bay leaves at this time.
Let it cook low and slow for the next twelve hours. You want to get as many nutrients from the bones as possible, so the slow cook works wonders in this regard. Check water levels when cooking for long periods. Add as needed. Add green herbs toward the end, like the last 30 minutes.
When done, remove the large pieces, skim the fat off the top, and strain through a mesh sieve into your container.
Store in the fridge for prompt use or in the freezer for later use. Scoop off the fat from the top before using.
Like I said, a warm cup of this is total comfort and great for what ails you! Use it for soups or add to your recipes. It is delicious. This recipe also works great with beef, pork and chicken bones. Enjoy!
As some of you may know, I have dipped my toes this year into the arena of raising meat for my dinner table. Maybe you’ve seen the pictures of Tom and his posse. Four day old turkeys I purchased at the Northern Colorado Feed and Supply store last April. Two Bourbon Reds and two Narragansett. The intention of that purchase, raising my Thanksgiving entree.
As the saying goes, turkey’s are born looking for a way to die. I had a lot of ideas about what they would be like starting out. What I did not expect is that one of them would imprint on me. It was clear from the start that one of the little bits, much bigger than the others, was likely a Narragansett tom. He was also the easiest to catch and hold on to as he was growing, though that wouldn’t last long. Very quickly he would look for me and run to me whenever I came near the pen. Once they grew large enough, he would be the first to fly out of the pen to wander, always followed by the others.
Like I said, he would follow me everywhere, to the point I thought he may need a restraining order. He would knock on the front door whenever I went back inside, hanging on the front stoop in wait. If he wandered farther than usual, I could call and he would come quicker than the family dog. As you may guess, it wasn’t long before old Tom got a pardon for this years dinner table. I think it was his little dance that he would do for me. I’m a sucker for attention apparently. So it was decided that Tom, and his mate, would be kept and I would try my hand at breeding.
That decision was short lived. Tom met his demise from an unknown predator. One of the woes of free ranging. It was a sad blow, as I had become fond of the big guy. Even if he did love to strut across the top of my husbands truck and pull at my sleeves and earrings whenever I went to fill the feed and water. He was my buddy.
Rather than keep a lone hen, as turkey’s are usually part of a much larger group, I made the decision to process all three remaining turkeys when the time came. I paid extra attention to ensure none of them met a similar fate prior to November 23. The day slated for them to meet their maker.
The Narragansett hen was actually pardoned a second time, on November 22, when Nicole from Friendly Critters Farm mentioned she needed a hen for her tom. We came to an agreement, and the hen, Cranberry, was dropped of at her new digs at FCF while on my way to Longshadow Farm in Berthoud for a morning of turkey processing. If you’ve never witnessed a tom dance for his lady, it is a sight to behold. It was evident Thanksgiving, Nicole’s tom, was clearly enamored with his new lady friend. He put on quite the welcoming show. It actually made me blush.
With the introduction complete, I was on my way to Longshadow. You may have read a previous post I wrote on processing chickens at Grant Farms. Thankful for that education under my belt, yesterday was a first, processing a critter I raised. Emotionally, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I am of the opinion if I want to continue eating meat, and being responsible in my consumption, I’d like to move toward raising the majority of it myself. In that, there is the inconvenient part where the animal must be slaughtered and butchered. I personally waiver with the reality that more often than not I pass that karma off to those willing to engage in those inconvenient acts for me. And truth is, most of us need to if we are to eat meat. It’s a simple truth. As with chicken processing, I needed to see it for myself. Do I have what it takes to look my dinner in the eye. That’s just my personal struggle. I know it will evolve, as all things do.
So here I am, two turkeys in tow, nervous yet calm in anticipation of learning what I needed to do to get them to the dinner table.
Larry, one of the owners of Longshadow was a great help and a good teacher. He and my friend Will from WiMo farm were processing for their customers. Larry showed me how to swiftly cut and drain the bird. Then we moved to scalding and plucking, and then to gutting and dressing the bird. All time accounted for, it was maybe 20 minutes? I was surprised that I was less bothered than I expected by the initial kill. I know how they were raised and what their life was like. I didn’t wonder about things I really would rather ignore.
And now, I have a new found appreciation for what I have to offer the thanksgiving table at our friends house this week. I anticipate this becoming the norm. Raising each years birds. I’m all ready to upgrade the turkey digs for next year and get the perfect breeding pair. But this year, this is a first. And I feel the need to honor that. I feel a mix of pride, sadness, and a little bit of awe.
So with that, I wish you all a happy day of bounty. May your tables be laden with thoughtful nourishment. And may you all have a long list of gratitudes. I sure do.
It’s that time of year to start planning the planting of your windbreak, or edible landscape, with the Colorado State Forest Service seedling tree program. This program allows farmers, ranchers and rural landowners to purchase trees for a nominal cost. The goal of the program being to provide assistance to landowners in planting new forests, establish windbreaks to prevent erosion, provide protection to homes, agriculture and livestock, and enhance wildlife habitat.
Colorado State Forest Service has a wonderful publication Trees for Conservation: A buyer’s guide. My copy is tattered and dog-eared from going through it so many times. A downloadable copy can be found here. This offers great descriptions of available trees that are suited to our climate and explains what the benefits are for your property and any critters you would like to invite in like birds. They also have a variety of publications discussing how to put in a windbreak, and even a pamphlet on what to cook with all those edible varieties.
A good windbreak is three rows, with the first row meeting the wind made up of lower fast growing shrubs and bushes, the middle row your slow growing evergreens and the final row your taller, quicker growing deciduous trees. It’s that first row where you can plant a wall of edible bounty with the fruit bearing varieties. The only downside, if there is one, is the competition you will have from your feathered and four legged visitors. They love a good berry as much as the next guy. Another thing to consider is the beneficial and not so beneficial relationships. For instance, I love Eastern Redcedars. I love their shaggy fullness and color. They are not so good to have near apple trees as they attract the same pests. Had to scratch those off the list of potential break trees. I love the cedars, but I love my Honeycrisps more.
The Colorado State Forest Serviceoffers seedling, bare root trees and some potted varieties (potted sold individually) for sale in large quantities, 10-50 per bundle depending on variety, at an affordable price for landowners. These are available for pre-purchase in the spring and are sold on a first ordered first served basis. The intent of providing these trees and the copious and wonderful amount of information is conservation. Folks from the extension service can come by your property and recommend the best varieties for your site and even create a plan. For a fee they can come out in the spring and prep the area and plant the trees with weed barrier cloth. It’s a great deal, and folks in the area I’ve talked to said within 10-15 years they had a decent break and within the first year that first row can get as tall as 8-10 feet as the bushes and shrubs grow faster than the larger trees will.
As I’ve always been told, the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best is today! Get an application and price list here.
Last year I indicated it was my aim to to one day raise my own little gobblers. This year I made good on that and have three turkeys getting ready for processing the week of the big event (thank you Longshadow Farm for being willing to show me the ropes with that processing thing). But most folks aren’t in the position to raise their own. However, if you are I highly recommend it. I have found turkeys to be a most interesting and entertaining bird.
If you’re in the market for a turkey, the typical grocery store variety are the giant broad-breasted whites. Those mammoths can top out at 40 pounds. Resulting in the need for one very large oven. They take roughly 20 weeks to get to slaughter weight. More and more popular, and likely to be found in the homesteaders menagerie, are the heritage breeds. Pretty birds with a little more character. According to many of my homesteading books, the winners of the popularity contest for heritage breeds are the Narragansett, the Bronze and the Bourbon Red. These take a bit longer to get to slaughter weight, at an estimated 25-30 weeks, but they are worth the extra time. It’s past the time for getting in your order in most cases. With that said, I am aware of a couple farms that have available supplies. If I missed any please feel free to share in the comments section or on our facebook page. Some years searching for a locally pasture raised heritage bird is like seeking the holy grail.
The first is Jodar Farms. Usually known for their amazing chicken and now pork, they raise a limited number of turkeys for holiday processing. In addition, they raise a limited amount of ducks and rabbit. I saw Aaron this weekend before the Winter Market and he indicated that he still has a good number available.
Next up is Donoma Farms is located in Carr, Colorado and raises a variety of poultry options. Recently they still had turkeys available for the holiday. In addition to poultry (chicken, duck and turkey) and eggs, they offer goat’s milk, CSA shares and grass-fed beef.
Grant Farm CSA has a few birds left. Located in Wellington, Colorado, Grant Farm CSA has a variety of CSA options available, including whole kitchen shares with canned goods, fruit and meat.
Raindrop Retreatis a farm that has turkey and chicken shares advertised online for a $20 deposit. They are located in Bellvue, Colorado. This is in addition to their fruit and vegetable CSA and a variety of other value added products and services.
Wisdom’s Natural Poultry is located in Haxtun, Colorado and raise chicken and turkeys. While they can be found during the season at the Boulder Farmer’s Market, you can contact them to work out a delivery.
Carrie’s Clucks is located in Windsor, Colorado and has turkey advertised online. They offer turkey along with duck, chicken, eggs, and a market style CSA.
Longshadow Farm in Berthoud, Colorado. Sold out for this holiday season, but you can typically reserve a bird online or by calling Kristin on the farm with a $15.00 non-refundable deposit for future reference. Longshadow raises both heritage turkeys and broad-breasted. These guys are processed right before the holiday when reserved. They also raise duck, lamb, chickens, organic chickens, guinea and make a mean batch of ice cream. Perfect for that slice of pumpkin pie. (I like the cinnamon!)
I hope this helps you in your holiday feasting search. Again, please let me know if I missed a provider!