My buddy, Mari – she of the hops vines – collared me today with an irresistible invitation: how would I like to accompany her to Stonebridge Farm, the Community Supported Ag outfit where she gets her produce?
“They have chickens,” she said merrily, knowing my fondness for those cluckers, “and great horned owls dropping pellets with the coolest stuff in them. You’ll love it.” She’s right, which is neat, because not many of my friends realize just how fascinated I am by animal droppings.
Off we sailed, west to Lyons, a small, sleepy town upon the foothills in Boulder County. Thank goodness Mari was driving – the quick right into a rutted dirt drive was a turn I’d never seen, despite driving this road most of my 13 years here. Up we bumped into a small field where before us, a modest-seeming farm appeared.
Pickup for the produce was an hour away; we’d arrived early in order to ramble through the fields, past the bee hives, through the greenhouse and over to the barn. The quiet of the day was lovely: sunny skies, cool temps, and a hint of clouds. John Martin, who owns the farm with spouse Kayann Short, was happy to let us wander, encouraging us to see the newly transplanted tomato seedlings in the upper field.
Passing through field after field of young starts, the potential for the season was impressive: though the harvest now is of spring greens and Asian cabbage, walking onions and spinach, soon there will be garlic, Raab, and stir fry veggies, and later raspberries, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes.
In the harvest barn where shareholders browsed this week’s crops, questions and conversations ran group to group, who all helped each other decide which produce to pick, or how to use it.
If you know the farmer who grows your food, consider yourself one lucky person. In this day of factory farming, remote controlled combines and global transport of food, the link to the land can be a tenuous one.
It may sound silly to you, but I prefer to put a face to my produce, have a hand to shake and a smile to greet me when I’m contemplating which vegetables I think are good enough for the family. Small conversations on weather, bugs, or new equipment or “hey, how did your family like those salad greens you tried last week?” are as important to me as the freshness of the food. Join a CSA near you for your produce if you aren’t growing enough to meet your family’s needs, or shop at the local farmer’s market. You’ll find the best food comes from people who know your name.