“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”
― Wendell Berry
The above picture is of our baby greens producer, Ring a Ding Farms, outside of Howard. This exceptional farm uses cover crops and green manuring exclusively for their fertility management. What does that mean, you might ask? That means that they don't use any compost, manure, or any other imported fertilizer to maintain healthy soils. What they do use is the biomass of other crops they plant and grow in place, which is then turned into the soil several times a season. Then every other year the soils that were in intensive baby green production get a full year of barley and vetch, oats, and then buckwheat. Each one is cut and "fed" to the soil. This is what Adam Ring calls a zero input farming system. You can see how this field above is planted in strips, the baby greens in the middle, and on the sides are two sections that are in green manure crops which next year will be in baby greens production and vica versa. Barley can contribute up to 12,900 lbs of biomass to the soil per acre, and what you see above the soil is dwarfed with what is going on below the soil level. Vetch is a leguminous nitrogen-fixing plant and buckwheat is good at mining and bringing up minerals from deep with the soil. The more diverse biomass you add to the soil, the more the microorganisms have a balanced diet to grow and prosper while transforming soil matter into valuable nutrients, tilth, and biology. When you have that going on in your soil, you can grow exceptional organic produce.
The CSA shares have received baby arugula and baby mizuna from this farm in previous weeks, and planted are also baby kale, baby beet greens, baby spinach, baby chard, and baby lettuce.
Ring a Ding Farms has put a ton of investment in not only their farming systems of intensive, bandsaw-harvested, baby green production, but also in being Certified Organic and GAP Certified (USDA's Good Agricultural Practices). Their state of the art packing barn showcases a triple wash system and cooling room that are designed to produce the most high quality, ready to eat, organic greens available in the State of Colorado (watch out California!). Customers like Whole Foods was lined up to be buying thousands of pounds of this farms product every week. The Valley Roots Food Hub and our partner hub to the East, Arkansas Valley Organic Growers, was also looking to be rolling out the baby greens and the baby lettuce mix as a Southern Colorado standard. Well, as happens in farming, Ring a Ding has been visited by 2 hail events, one on June 13th and the other July 2nd, that wiped out Adam Ring's crops. The sacrifice, patience, and perseverance that is exemplified by Adam and his crew is astounding. It is something our modern, instant-streaming, convenience-driven, and entitled culture could hook up to with battery cables and get rejuvenated with the simple virtues of life on Earth.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs were started in the spirit that when Acts of God such as hail happen to a farmer and wipes out their crop (or reduces the market value substantially) the community is supposed to be there to back them up, and not abandon them in times when they need support the most. The VRFH CSA wants to live up to at least some of that vision, and what we have worked out with Adam Ring is that we would step up and buy several hundred pounds of hail damaged greens that are perfectly nutritious and edible, they just don't have the characteristics that restaurants and retailers require in this day and age. We will take them to our commercial kitchen in Mosca and blanch and freeze them for winter use. That way at least Adam can keep his crew working, the fields are not all green manure, and at least some revenue can come back to the farm to support the tremendous investment.
Below is a picture of the hail from July 2nd.
The Fresh Box of 7/16/15:
Thanks for Liza and Esteban for helping in procurement, egg wrangling, and share packing! A big shout out to David Toews for filling in with those beautiful 75 dozen of organic eggs!
2 Tomatoes, Graber's Produce, Alamosa
1.5 lb Apricots, via Arkansas Valley Organic Growers (AVOG)
2 bunches Beets COG, Hobbs Family Farm, Avondale
2 bunches COG Grilling Onions, White Mountain Farm, Mosca. This is our home range farm and partners in our facility in Mosca. They are not just exceptional farmers (get ready for some awesome food), great business leaders, but they are just great people. Thanks Paul, Stephanie, Sheldon, Francisco, and your crew!
1 Peach Aloha COG, AVOG
1 Cucumber, Ab Yoder Family Farm, Alamosa
2.5 lbs Flying Saucer Squash, Blue Raven Farm, AVOG
1/2 lb Shelling Peas COG, WMF, Mosca. These are a valley standard and have much stories and history to tell about valley culture and agriculture.
1/2 lb Fava Beans COG, WMF. Recipes anyone?
2 lb Cherries, AVOG
1/2 lb Braising Mix COG, Green Earth Farm, Saguache
1/2 head each Frisee and Butterhead Lettuce COG, GEF
1 6 oz Goat Chevre, Laz Ewe 2 Bar Goat Dairy, Del Norte. You can learn about this operation here:
Photo below of last week's Fresh Box from Megumi Sugihara.