Cure Organic Farm in the News
Boulder Daily Camera 11/21/10, photo by Sam Hall
"Farmers and Floods" Denver Westword Blogs 9/17/13
Colorado Unveils Official State Brand and Slogan (see us at 1:06)
"Cure Organic Farm is a Boulder Treasure" Hungry blog 7/23/13
"Boulder Farmer's Market Week Eleven" Denver Westword Blogs 6/24/13
"Scott and Mark Monette of Flagstaff House on Staying Current..." The Denver Eater 5/31/13
"Red Grape-Jicama-Walnut Salad with Mango-Jalapeno Poppy Seed Dressing" Boulder Locavore 5/17/13
"How To Give Mom Her Farm Fresh Due" -Boulder Daily Camera 5/9/13
"Water Supplies for Colorado Farms Sustained by Spring Snow" -The Boulder Stand 4/22/13
"Time to Start Seeds and Plant Greens in Boulder County" -Boulder Daily Camera 3/6/13
"Community Sustained Agriculture Share – The Start!" -Raw Peach Blog 6/15/12
"School yourself, food lover: You can find a cooking class that's right for you" - Boulder Daily Camera 6/9/12
"Boulder swap lets food lovers barter their favorite things" -Boulder Daily Camera 5/9/12
"The Kitchen's Crispy Polenta with Grilled Cure Farm Pea Shoots and Cumin Yogurt" -Boulder Daily Camera 5/9/12
"LoDo The Kitchen Denver Opens" -5280 3/20/12
"Cure Organic Farm An Rx for Fake Food and GMO's" - Boulder.com 3/20/12
"In Season" Edible Front Range, Spring 2012
"What Farmers Do During the Winter Months"- Boulder Weekly 11/3/11
"The Farm-to-Table Founding Fathers" - Entrepreneur Magazine 9/21/11
"Wacky Vegetables" -Zisboombah.com 7/11
"Mangalitsa Saucisse Sec and Lardo tasting" - Cure Organic Farm Store" -Boulder Locavore Blog 5/22/11
"Culinary Evolution" -Boulder Weekly 4/28/2011
"Cure Organic Farm plans farm store for meat and produce" - Boulder Daily Camera 4/27/2011
"The Bacon Tree" -MyAuntMarty 4/12/2011
"Boulder Valley's outdoor classrooms: Students plant, harvest gardens" -Boulder Daily Camera 4/6/2011
"To Market to Farmer's Market" -Boulder Daily Camera 3/30/2011
"Denver Rustic Wedding Inspiration" -LaBelle Bride 1/20/2011
"A twist on tradition: Can Boulder build a food culture?" -Boulder Daily Camera 11/21/2010
"Country Wedding Inspiration" -The Wedding Chicks 11/1/2010
"Eating After the Frost" -Boulder Daily Camera 10/26/10
"First Day of Winter Share" -Boulder Locavore 10/21/10
"American's Foodiest Town 2010: Boulder, CO" -Bon Appetit 10/10
"By way of Italy, tomato sauce gets made on a Boulder farm" -Boulder Daily Camera 9/8/10
"Agritainment: Fun on the farm" -Boulder Daily Camera 8/20/10
"Boulder Farm Communities and Green Architecture" -Elephant 9/30/09
"Mid-August Abudance at Farmer's Market" -Boulder Reporter 8/15/09
"So You Want to Work on a Farm" -Boulder Daily Camera 8/2/09
"Students Volunteer at Cure Organic Farm" -Boulder Daily Camera 4/30/09
"Local Photographer Writes Farm to Table Cookbook" -Boulder Daily Camera 4/21/09
"Field Hands: How an Elegant Meal Takes Shape on the Farm" -Boulder Daily Camera 9/10/08
"Green Stuff: Farmer's Market Opens Saturday" -Boulder Daily Camera 4/1/08
"Consumer Demand for Organic Food Grows" -Voice of America 7/31/07
"Earth Day Dinner" -Country Home 4/07
"Summer Camp Guide" -Boulder Daily Camera 3/4/07
"Organic Outgrowth" -Boulder Daily Camera 2/26/07
"Self Serve Produce Stands Out" -Boulder Daily Camera 8/16/06
"Balanced Diet" -Boulder Daily Camera 7/16/06
"Local Organic Farm Teaches Real Farm Skills and Fun" - Boulder Daily Camera 4/1/06
"The Taste of Spring" - Boulder Daily Camera 3/29/06
"Farmers Look for Small Plots" - Boulder Daily Camera 10/28/05
"Farmings Next Generation" - Boulder Dirt 9/20/05
"Home Cooking" - Boulder Daily Camera 9/21/05
"Green Genes Lead Woman to Boulder" - Denver Post 8/17/05
"Market Looks for City Support" - Boulder Daily Camera 8/11/05
"From Field to Fork" - The Yellow Scene 2/2005
Boulder Farm Communities and Green Architecture -Elephant 9/30/09 by Bryan Bowen
I just visited Cure Organic Farm, just east of Boulder, out Valmont Road past the post-industrial butte sites and through the fringe-lands between the City and County. I drove my Subaru, characteristically, short of time again…my over-busy lifestyle competing with my desire to hop on my road bike for an enjoyable, relaxing, healthy ride through our countryside.
We’re working on a grant-funded greenhouse project with the intent of making zero-energy consuming, healthy local food producing greenhouses that can operate year round. This one will be under 1,000 square feet (to meet the building permitting rules that constrain the land). A greenhouse like this could accompany any farm or neighborhood around here, or be repeated as a building to make a larger food producing facility that could really help localize food production in our region on a big scale.
Right now, most of the local farmers have easy access to “hoop houses” which are very light on materials, flexible, and inexpensive, but require the use of propane or natural gas heat to substantially extend the growing season in our climate. An evolved version of these are made by Haygrove.
We’re taking the opposite approach. Based on passive solar principals: absorbing the sun’s free energy and storing it to get through the colder nights, we’re hoping to assist in our society’s gradual shift away from fossil fuels. The innovation we’re evaluating is movable nighttime insulation, with intelligence behind it. Synergistic Building Technologies is the lead innovator for the windows and moving insulation, and I am the architect. Marco Lam, a local acupuncturist and Naropa University teacher, is helping us with permaculture. We think it’ll work, and hope to make a good contribution to the place we live.
Anne Cure is a local hero and part of a movement, farming organically on land owned by another local hero, Farmer John Ellis. Today I met Anne and John out on the land, as I wandered around marveling at the sun dappled reality of this place. A long table runs in a 60 foot long line under big shade trees. Plastic chairs sit sort of randomly along it, and you can easily imagine farm hand meetings and big farm-to-table meals. I’ve spread out my rolls of pristine white bond paper drawings here to talk through ideas, and stuck big dirty rocks on the corners. Everywhere shows evidence of work and growth, and there is activity all over the place.
There are the chickens, ducks, and all sorts of current and past agricultural efforts going on. There are artifacts, decaying archeology that’s real and not just the old-plow-in-the-yard suburban decoration. Anne’s kiddo runs around visiting the others as they work independently, but together to get ready for the CSA pickup tonight. I’m terribly envious of this kid, and feel like I need to find a way to bring my children out here. It’s always grounding and eye-opening to come here. It shifts my vision.
It seems so obvious that we ought to be doing more of this, and I always want to pitch in when I arrive. I hope our County is able to find a way to support what these folks are doing, through zoning or subsidies, whatever works. Community support is strong, and there are a lot of young people out there who are looking at this new, old, timeless and once again promising future path. I also know there is plenty of market pressure to make this economically viable, especially as oil linked things such as pesticide, fertilizer, and transport fuel begin to weigh down the monoculture agri-industrial giants.
It astounds me how most of what we need to do is already known but not practiced. I know how to design agriculturally tied cohousing communities that are net-zero energy, food producing, waste-water treating, storm water harvesting, and most of all, more pleasant to live in. We’re doing it on several projects now, ranging from New Mexico to Alberta. People all over are working to get these types of communities and neighborhoods built. I even found great traction for these ideas at the Congress for New Urbanism conference in Denver this summer. With this kind of thinking and action bubbling up (even being recognized by entrenched groups of established professionals and bureaucrats), so much of what we do can be relocalized and retooled with minimal effort. It’s astounding. Look at the guys who are turning medians into gardens, parks into orchards, and intersections into works of art.
My firm now has a constant flow of work, adding food and energy producing greenhouses to existing homes. There is a clarity growing about what should be globalized, and what localized. I don’t mind the occasional banana from three thousand miles away when most of my food now comes from my own region.
I’m excited to get to work. I am going to be able to pop out from behind the drafting board (which is now usually a computer) and actually build something. Our good friends at tres birds workshop are jumping in to lend a hand, making this process much easier and faster…and more fun.
In a few weeks, once the harvest is complete and gleaning efforts have taken any remaining food to folks who need it, we will excavate, pour foundations, and begin stacking 2’x2’x6’ concrete blocks made of leftover redi-mix into a greenhouse shape (assuming the permit is ready). We’re already gathering lumber from other construction sites, counting out leftover metal connections, and placing truss orders (made of small caliper, sustainably grown/harvested wood).
We’re stepping out of the normal architect and general contractor-driven approach of using all new materials that are readily available from stores, and looking to our community for re-resources. It’s much greener, and perhaps harder to replicate in some ways, but it’s part of the vision: we’re looking beyond retail to find a solution. Just like farmers.
I think our culture has this idea that farmers are out there doing it by themselves, lone wolves. Every time I talk to these guys, it becomes more apparent that there is a vibrant, strong network that is our farming community. Resources and labor are shared. Mutually beneficial relationships are the norm. A kind of redundancy and diversity that makes it work, and makes our greater community culturally rich.
As I walked away from Anne and John and the others, I started to think of the work waiting for me in the office. Marketing our small practice, dealing with accounting, doing paperwork for various jurisdictions, overseeing the work my cohorts and I are doing, and as much sketching as I can sneak in. We’ve got a fine set-up. Still…a morning of planting garlic sounds really nice right now. I’ll admit, it’s a naïve, fair weather fan’s reaction, a grass-is-greener point of view…but still. When I passed the farm stand I dropped a dollar into the box and grabbed a random peach. It was, by far, the best peach I’ve had all season.
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Mid-August Abudance at Farmer's Market- Boulder Reporter 8/15/09 by Bob Wells
FRESH PICKED: Anne Cure of Cure Organic Farms on Valmont had some lovely green beans ready for early-morning buyers at Farmers Market Saturday.
Aug. 15 dawned cool and cloudy, but the crowd grew quickly at the Boulder County Farmers Market. A long line awaited Morton’s peaches by 7:45. Vendors had abundant offerings of green beans, zucchini, corn and broccoli, but good tomatoes were scarce. The tamale stand had its usual loyalists. Antonio Laudisio carefully prepared a cheese omelette with polenta (for me!). Signature-gatherers led by Sylvia Tawse worked to ban GMO sugar beets from Boulder open space. Silver Canyon coffee had opened by 6 a.m. to cater to the early-rising vendors, some of whom had been picking that morning.
By 10:30, though, the skies darkened and a light rain began falling. It didn’t last long, however, and the hot market in organic vegetables roared on into the afternoon.
Over at the Millennium Harvest House, play was suspended on some very intense matches in the annual Boulder Open Tennis Tournament. Disappointed, four women’s open semifinalists drifted off courts six and seven across the creek, waiting to resume when skies cleared and courts dried. The tournament’s finals – always intense – begin at 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning, weather permitting. It looks to be cloudy and unseasonably cool.
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So you want to work on a farm...
Posted: 08/02/2009 12:00:00 AM MDT
Even on an unseasonably cool summer afternoon, harvesting beets is hard, dirty work. There's the bending, the pulling, the lugging of big tubs piled high with crimson tubers.
Later there will be rinsing, more hauling and unloading. The work starts at 6 a.m. and lasts till 5 p.m. with a lunch break. Home for the season is a "yome," a cross between a yurt and a dome. The facilities include a shared kitchen and a shed with a shower and a composting toilet. The pay: $700 a month, food, and everything you want to know about farming.
Such is the life of a farm intern, at least on Cure Organic Farm, where Mark Storch, 24, and Eva Teague, 27, were chosen as the farm's interns this year.
That's right -- chosen.
Between 40 and 50 people applied for internships at Cure this season, according to Chloe Diegel, who works on the farm with owners, Paul and Anne Cure. Storch and Teague are among an increasing number of young people who want to find out what farm work is really like. Many are motivated by sustainability issues and food writer Michael Pollan's indictment of America's industrial food supply in his books "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food."
The Cures' experience is not unique. Cindy Torres, manager of the Longmont Farmers' Market, says she has received well over 100 calls and e-mails this year about local farm internships, up from 10 to 15 three years ago when she started as manager.
"It's huge. The interest has definitely grown," she says.
"It's a phenomenal landscape to learn farming," Torres says. "It beats the Panhandle in Texas."
Anne Cure says farming internships can be a way to see the world.
That can mean jumping from farm to farm across the country through a series of short gigs advertised on wwoof.com or having the origins of food more completely revealed to you -- as at Cure. Sometimes it's both.
Cure intern Storch says of his decision to come from North Carolina to Colorado: "I thought it was kind of hypocritical to travel abroad when I haven't seen (the U.S.) I'm making my way west."
Yet, he's also serious about farming, having worked on farms in North Carolina. "I'm not sure about the timeframe," he says about more permanent farm work. "I want to buy some land, have a family, (but) I've got some stuff to do before then."
The Cures take their role as farm educators seriously. Of the 10 interns they've mentored since their farm opened in 2005, more than half are currently working on farms.
"The main reason we started (using interns) is we want to teach and inspire other people to farm" Anne Cure says, adding that she's delighted when former interns call her for farming advice.
Cure Farm interns learn how to drive a tractor, how to lay irrigation tape and how to build a greenhouse. They also learn the business side: growing product for market, for community share agriculture and for restaurants.
Finding a calling
Look around Boulder County and you'll find at least a couple of people whose lives were changes by farming internships.
Longmont Farmers' Market Manager Torres worked on Hedgerow Farm, once owned by Naropa. As someone who had always liked the outdoors and manual labor, Torres thought farming would be a good fit. She found Hedgerow on the Local Harvest Web site and decided to check it out.
"I spent about four hours in the field. When I was out there, I thought 'This is fantastic. I want to farm,'" she says. "I get to work outside. Every day (I would) wake up with purpose and commitment to community. I spent the next year selling everything I owned so I could move into a converted grain silo on the farm."
She made $400 a month.
"I got a nice, intimate look at where food comes from," she says of the experience.
When Naropa sold Hedgerow, Torres found the work she does now as a farmers' market manager. She also works on the Boulder County's Food and Agriculture Policy Council.
Adrian Card, agriculture extension agent at the Colorado State University Extension Service of Boulder County, grew up in the suburbs in Alabama with no exposure to farming. He became interested in sustainable living in the early 1990s and that drew him to farming. He interned on a small biodynamic farm in Germany.
"Having that immersion sort of experience whetted my appetite," he says. "I thought I was fairly good at it. I was interested in learning more."
He went to Happy Heart Farm in Fort Collins.
"I interned for three years. That's when it began to crystallize," he says. Card later graduated from CSU and in his current job has created Boulder County's Building Farmers program, which helps farms form growers' associations to lease Boulder County Open Space for organic farming. Last week, Card was in Delta County, helping to start a program there. He has applied for funds to take the program to other states.
Although it helped him find his life path, Card says farming is definitely not for everyone.
"There's obviously folks who will romanticize it," he says of farming. "When you get out on a farm and work 12 hours a day, (you find out) that it may look good on paper, but there are much easier ways to make money. You have to really love it -- you get up in the morning and say, 'Wow, this is cool.'"
In the fields
Paul Cure puts the "discovery" process about farm work another way:
"Michael Pollan isn't there at 5:30 a.m. making your coffee and helping you bunch carrots," he says.
The Cures have had interns who couldn't take the grueling work.
"July is the decider month," he says. "Anne and I say, 'If they make it through July, they're going to be a farmer."
Storch and Teague have met that test.
Teague grew up all over the world. Her parents worked with other Christians in various places including Jordan and in Egypt.
Teague moved to Denver to be with friends after completing a graduate program in English in Connecticut.
"Since I'm not from anywhere, I thought I'd go where my friends are," she says.
When her family lived in Cairo when Teague was a child, she was rarely allowed outside where there were rabid dogs and other dangers. The only green place she remembers was a cemetery that they sometimes visited.
"I did grow into enjoying the outdoors slowly," she says.
Her experience at Cure has been a complete immersion.
Last week, as Teague, Storch, Diegel and Paul Cure harvested beets, the four moved methodically through the rows. The field, which backs to Valmont Avenue near 75th Street, is curtained off from the road with vegetation, making the space quiet except for the occasional crowing of a rooster in a nearby chicken pen. White cabbage moths flitted from leaf to leaf in the sun.
Teague says a serious internship is different from a few days spent working on a farm.
"I think the difference with people wwoofing it is they want to see what it's like and talk about the glory days (later). This is more like they pay us, and we work pretty hard.
She says she hasn't had an "aha" moment that told her that farming is what she wants to do, but she is interested.
"I think I came here to test it out," she says. "I have felt like I want to continue on the same path."
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Students Volunteer at Cure Organic Farm 4/30/09
Allana Oathe, left, and Tzuria Malpica, both New Vista students, plant potatoes as part of their volunteer work. Students from New Vista High School volunteer on the Cure Organic Farm on April 30, 2009. Community volunteers also worked that day, planting potatoes.
Allana Oathe, left, and Gabe Myers, students at New Vista, help plant potatoes on Thursday. Students from New Vista High School volunteer on the Cure Organic Farm on April 30, 2009. Community volunteers also worked that day, planting potatoes.
Volunteer Stephanie Ault, left, takes a bag of potatoes from Anne Cure during a planting day. Students from New Vista High School volunteer on the Cure Organic Farm on April 30, 2009. Community volunteers also worked that day, planting potatoes.
Student volunteers and regular volunteers plant potatoes. Students from New Vista High School volunteer on the Cure Organic Farm on April 30, 2009. Community volunteers also worked that day, planting potatoes.
Anne Cure, right, prepares the ground with a restored tractor on Thursday. Chloe Diegel drives the tractor in the background. Students from New Vista High School volunteer on the Cure Organic Farm on April 30, 2009. Community volunteers also worked that day, planting potatoes.
Gabe Myers, a student at New Vista, works the ground with his water bottle while planting potatoes. Students from New Vista High School volunteer on the Cure Organic Farm on April 30, 2009. Community volunteers also worked that day, with both groups planting potatoes.
Anne Cure, far right, explains what the volunteers will be doing in this field on the Cure Farm. Students from New Vista High School volunteer on the Cure Organic Farm on April 30, 2009. Community volunteers also worked that day, planting potatoes.
Charlie Shanahan, a student at New Vista, helps put out the watering tape for the potato crop on Thursday. Students from New Vista High School volunteer on the Cure Organic Farm on April 30, 2009. Community volunteers also worked that day, with all planting potatoes.
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Local Photographer Writes Farm to Table Cookbook 4/21/09
Like many people with creative pursuits, Jennifer Olson supported herself working in restaurants, as a hostess, a server and a manager.
She decided to take a leap and go for photography full time. Yet, she missed the restaurant biz. About two years ago, she came up with an idea to marry her knowledge in both fields.
"I came up with the idea to do a cookbook," she says. "It was a good mix between my careers."
The cookbook she had in mind would feature stunning visuals of food from its origins on the farm to its place on the restaurant table. She says she was inspired by Teri Rippeto of Potager in Denver and Hugo Matheson of The Kitchen in Boulder, both of whom are featured in the book, along with six other chefs, including Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca Food and Wine. The book, Colorado Organic, also features Cure Organic Farm in Boulder County.
"I think the consumer is very inspired by eating locally," Olson says. "But often they don't know how to do it, don't know where to begin."
The book is arranged, appropriately enough by the seasons. Matheson's recipes are for fall and Mackinnon-Patterson's for winter.
Olson says she spent about a year on the recipes, getting them scaled to size and testing them along with her friends. She sent each of her fellow testers a photo of the finished dish before they made the recipe.
"So many people wrote me back and said, 'It actually looks like the photo. I'm so proud of myself.'"
Matheson, who supplied recipes such Salt-Baked Chicken with Salsa Verde and Butternut Squash Soup, says he was a little wary about participating when Olson first approached him.
"Then she started talking to me, and it seemed like we were on the same page," he says, adding that he was also was impressed with the quality of some of the other chefs who were participating.
"It's a fun book," he says.
Olson says the book's lush photography integral to the book, along with the chef profiles and recipes.
"As someone who enjoys cooking, knowing that a recipe can take a couple of days to prepare, I want to see what it looks like," she says.
Readers will, too.
"Colorado Organic" is available at the Boulder Book Store, Peppercorn, Bay Leaf, Tattered Cover and through Jennifer Olson's Web site www.seasonalandlocal.com
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Field Hands: How an Elegant Meal Takes Shape on the Farm 9/10/08
"Look. There goes a bald eagle."
It's not an observation you're likely to hear in any other fine dining venue in Boulder County. But here, with a lush foreground of baby greens, majestic kale and feathery fennel, a backdrop of the purple foothills and a forward view of the last of rush hour creeping out of Boulder on the black-topped road, it's not much of a surprise to see a long table of 30 diners turn their collective eyes skyward.
Welcome to the farm dinner, Boulder County style.
In this case, the farm is Cure Organic on 75th Street and Valmont Road. The dinner is thanks to Meadow Lark Farm Dinners, a company formed by Boulder-area residents Veronica Volny, China Tresemer, Nate Ready and Aaron Hirsch, that stages dinners on local farms.
When guests arrived an hour or so ago, they were greeted with a Lillet and soda and skewers of Iowa-cured prosciutto and muskmelon from Munson Farm across the street. A tour of Cure Farm followed, with farmer Anne Cure leading the way. Diners checked out the hoop houses newly planted with winter greens, met the farm's pigs and walked the neatly terraced rows of tomatoes, popping a bright orange Sungold or two into their mouths.
Howard Diamond is attending his fifth Meadow Lark dinner and has reservations for two more. He says the atmosphere is completely different from that of a restaurant.
"I like everything about it," he says of this farm to table experience. "It's a great feeling sitting in the middle of a farm."
Down on the farm
Now, as the diners sit down to the linen-covered table, set with antique plates and crystal glassware, they hear an explanation of the wine paired with the first course, conducted by Ready, a master sommelier, formerly of Frasca and of Napa Valley's French Laundry. Chefs Volny and Tresemer explain the first course: roasted peppers dressed with lemon juice, vinegar and olive oil; Sungold tomatoes with vinegar, pickled Chiogga beets and rabbit conserva -- rich rabbit poached gently in olive oil.
The plates, looking almost gaudy with the mounds of orange, pink and red vegetables just a few hours from the field, are served individually and the rabbit set on the table, family-style in Mason jars. While the meal is elegant, the mood is anything but stuffy.
"Bunny in a jar!" jokes Kari Baars, a manager at the Kitchen and friend of the Meadow Lark crew. Cure cracks wise about a 2 a.m. harvest at DIA. The mood is convivial and close, like a family Thanksgiving without the dysfunctional undercurrents.
While the feel is casual, everything has been meticulously planned.
As the guests consume their first course, Tresemer is frying panisse, thick fingers of chickpea paste that are a popular street food in Southern France and Morocco. Volny is checking tomato confit bubbling on their giant grill.
The two have been working from their bright yellow converted school bus since mid-morning. Their day began when they drove the bus onto the site and unloaded the tables and chairs. They then set up a plating area outside with tables in an L configuration and a small propane grill that serves as a burner for frying or sautéing.
They bought the bus on eBay last winter and drove it home from Indiana in a snowstorm. The bus was retrofitted to add three waist-high restaurant-style coolers with a prep surface on top for cutting vegetables. A sink with a 50-gallon water supply allows them to wash produce. Racks store cooking utensils and all the glassware and dishes -- picked up at antique stores. A generator provides power. The initial setup gets the tables, chairs and dishes out of the bus to allow space for cooking.
They cook their lunch first, then set to work preparing for the farm dinner. Last Thursday's dinner marked their 20th, and almost all have sold out. Most of the rest of the dinners this year are also booked, although the group is adding some new ones in early October. The dinners range in price from $55 to $75 and can be booked on the group's Web site. www.farmdinners.com.
A big advantage of creating a dinner right on the farm is that Meadow Lark can make last-minute menu changes based on what is in the field.
"We can say, 'Let's have this instead,'" says Tresemer, who is snapping green beans as the late summer sun streams through the bus windows. "I think these are the last beans of the season," she says, as she snaps off pieces with small brown spots.
Volny is cutting X's in the bottom of round, red tomatoes in advance of blanching them to remove the skins. She takes the tomatoes out to a stock pot of water boiling on the grill, dunks them, and brings them back for peeling. They will be poached with thyme in Tuscan olive oil to make a meltingly rich confit.
Tresemer and Volny have known each other for only a couple of years.
But, Tresemer says, "We started cooking together almost immediately."
They show an easy cooperation as they prep the food, consulting each other on whether the peppers should have lemon juice or vinegar-- both, they decide -- or on whether the pesto is a bit too spicy.
"One of the most exciting things about being out here is that we have noticed the seasons even more than before, how the light changes, what (produce) is coming in," Tresemer says. "It's like being on a porch all day. People used to focus on food production all the time, prepping it, growing it, cooking it."
Volny goes out to start the fire on their wood grill, which they tow behind the bus or one of their cars. The grill is an impressive metal hulk, large enough to roast a pig, with a wide grill surface that Volny slides back and forth with a tire iron when she needs to add wood to the fire.
"I'm revisiting my Scout years," she says, as she forms a teepee of branches and cardboard around big blocks of wood. The blocks, which serve as the fire's main fuel, are oak, taken from the ends of railroad ties before they've been treated. It makes for a hot fire and a flavorful smoke.
"I had to learn to cook on (the grill)," Volny says. "We had a lot of Sunday lunches (before the dinners began)."
The grill is used to cook meats, but also as an oven when the flaps are closed. Volny dons heat-resistant welder's gloves to cook on the grill and remove pots.
"We always get grill burn," she says of the blast of heat. "Your face gets red and it singes off some of your eyebrows."
As the afternoon wears on, the pace quickens. Prep is mostly done. The main course is to be the near-at-hand vegetables -- the green beans, some marvelous sautéed Jimmy Nardello peppers, roasted potatoes, French breakfast radishes, carrots, and the tomato confit-- and the panisse, all served family-style with dipping sauces of pesto, harissa and garlic aioli.
The Meadow Lark crew carefully watches the sky, fearful of rain as the late-day clouds roll in. Weather happens, even at perfectly planned farm dinners. For a light rain, they set up tents. Shawls are available for guests if the night turns chilly. The previous week, at a dinner on Munson Farm, a downpour gave way to a fortuitous outcome. A large hoop house where the produce had just been harvested, but not yet replanted, housed the long table. Guests ate by candlelight with the rain beating a heavy patter on plastic sheeting.
"We always worry about the weather, but it seems to work out," Ready says.
This day, though everyone is a little concerned a la Murphy's Law, because nothing has gone wrong yet -- a brisk wind hasn't blown over the glasses. Nary a drop of rain has fallen.
As the main course of vegetables is served, Cure's husband, Paul, jokes that he has a rib-eye on the grill. Night has fallen, the candles are lit, and the conversation is a muffled a bit by the moister air.
As the diners finish their vegetables, Volny grills peaches for dessert. They will be served with basil leaves and a whipped cream-sour cream combination with a touch of lemon.
After the dinner crowd leaves, the Meadow Lark folks sit down for a meal under their well-lit cooking canopy. Then it's time to pack up the bus -- they're usually done by midnight -- and work on the next dinner.
There will be careful planning, cooking and wine pouring as the group looks out on the fields in appreciation.
Cue the eagle.
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Green Stuff: Farmers Market Opens Saturday 4/1/08
Anne and Paul Cure, of Cure Organic Farm, have a nice stash of green stuff -- mizuna, arugula, red mustard to name a few -- and they're willing to share.
With over-wintered spinach, along with greens coming to cutting length in their season-extending hoophouse, the Cures and other farmers will be offering just what the spring-fevered public has its collective mouth set for: delicious food that has sprouted from our own mineral-rich Colorado soil.
Yep, the Boulder County Farmers' Market opens Saturday. And for those making due with winter squash or greens packaged elsewhere, it's an event to be celebrated.
Mark Menagh, the market manager, says the market continues to grow steadily. Gross sales rose about 20 percent last year, and the number of regular customers also seems to be increasing, he says.
"Two things have helped us," he says, "the fresh food movement and people who ... on a regular basis are using the farmers' market to shop."
The Wednesday market, which opens May 7, has carved out its own identity, Menagh says, as a spot for a leisurely family shopping expedition and meal in the pleasant dusk of the Boulder summer.
When the Wednesday market changed four years ago from a morning market to one that runs from 4 to 8 p.m., sales initially dropped, but organizers gave their vision a little time to develop.
"Sure enough, Boulder has caught onto the atmosphere that can happen in Boulder on a downtown summer evening," Menagh says.
New to the market this year is Greenhouse Nursery, returning after a long absence, as well as Windsor Dairy, which will offer raw milk cheese, and High Wire Ranch, which offers grass-fed bison and elk.
Windsor Dairy's Meg Cattell says the farm will offer nine cheeses, including a cider-washed cheese she describes as "sort of like a traditional muenster, but a little bit stinky. Everyone loves them."
Cattell says the farm has old-fashioned breeds of cows, whose milk is known to make good cheese.
"We feed no grain to the cows. That really changes the fatty acid profile," she says.
In addition, raw milk adds more complex flavor, Cattell says. At the dairy, the milk is never chilled. It goes right from the cow into a tank where the cheese-making begins.
"It's a fermentation process," she says. "Each organism produces a byproduct that is the substrate for the next organism."
This year, the dairy is trying something new, planting its pasture with oxeye daisy and wild geranium, which will add a distinctive flavor profile to the milk and subsequently the cheese.
High Wire Ranch, which is located near Hotchkiss in Delta County, will offer elk and bison, all grass-fed.
The ranch, which has been featured in Eating Well and Sunset magazines, sells to markets in Aspen, Telluride and Carbondale, among others, says Dave Whittlesey, who owns the family ranch with his wife, Sue. Their son, Seth, who is attending college in Denver, will handle the Boulder market.
The ranch will offer steak, burgers and roasts, as well as a nitrite- and preservative-free line of buffalo and elk sausage and jerky.
"We really enjoy Aspen and Telluride, meeting the people and being able to sell what we raise, which is a very healthful product," Dave Whittlesey says. "We anticipate doing the same thing in Boulder. People in Boulder care about good food and how it's raised. That's what we're all about."
So, hungry Boulderite, have you already planned a few dishes around just these few things?
A lovely salad of local greens with cheese. Braised greens with bison, perhaps Asian style. A breakfast omelet with cheese, greens and sausage. That's the point of shopping at the market: Ingredients drive your menus. Often you realize you're in the mood for something you wouldn't have even thought of.
You think you love the first things out of the ground? Not as much as the farmers do,
"We just love the tender greens. We just eat them raw," Paul Cure says. "We have them with everything. We make homemade pasta and put them in there. We eat them breakfast, lunch and dinner. We're just so happy to be eating fresh greens again."
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Balanced diet Buying local, seasonal and organic is best, but how possible is it?
By Cindy Sutter, Camera Staff Writer
July 16, 2006
Laurene Phillips takes extra time with the food choices for her family. She always buys organic milk and cereal for her twin 3-year-olds, and she watches for sales on other organic products at Safeway and at natural foods stores, buying as many as she can on her budget.
"We try to balance it all," she says.
Like many conscious consumers, Phillips wants to buy for the good of her family and the good of the environment.
"It's for our own health and — this sounds like a cliche — just for the benefit of the Earth ... not to have all the chemicals, not leaving them for future generations," she says.
Yet Phillips, an early childhood consultant who lives with her husband and children in the mountains west of Boulder, is constrained by her grocery budget, about $400 to $500 a month.
If cost were not a factor?
"Then I would buy organic foods exclusively," she says.
Eating responsibly. The concept has an appealing, back-to-the-Earth ring. Yet the reality is complex. Is organic food that's shipped thousands of miles really better for the environment? What about farmed salmon? And can the average person even think about such questions during a mad, hungry dash to the grocery store on the way home from work?
"The hardest thing about it is the deluge of information coming at people," says Andy Floyd, director of professional programs at Culinary School of the Rockies. "The tough thing is to weed through what makes sense to each individual."
However, some food choices appear clearer than others. They fall mostly in the "don't category.
Those concerned about overfishing, say certain species, such as Chilean sea bass, should be off limits as their numbers dwindle toward extinction. Web sites, such as one provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium lists fish to be avoided to allow stocks to recover.
Both Whole Foods Market and Wild Oats buy seafood that is considered sustainable, carrying no species that are considered overfished.
In addition, the chains check fish farmers for environmentally acceptable processes, since poor aquaculture, especially in salmon farming, can cause environmental damage such as mixing of wild and domesticated salmon species, and spills of grains and pesticides, which disrupt ocean life.
"The farms we do work with cannot use pesticide or synthetic coloring," says Wild Oats spokesman Sonja Tuitele. "The diet has to be a seafood or native diet. A lot of farmed fish is given corn and grain. That's not natural."
Other products to shun, according to Jay Weinstein, author of "The Ethical Gourmet: How to Enjoy Great Food That Is Humanely Raised, Sustainable, Nonendangered, and That Replenishes the Earth:" Bottled water: Weinstein points out that the amount of energy used to bottle and distribute it is incredibly wasteful. For those concerned about the purity of their tap water, he suggests using a filter, or at the least buying locally produced spring water in refillable containers.
Non-sustainable coffee: Weinstein urges choosing fair trade, organic or shade-grown coffee, since all three practices help solve problems presented with traditional coffee production.
Non-organic sugar: Sugar production practices can be particularly destructive environmentally, Weinstein says.
Foie gras: This luxury product, the fattened liver of a duck or goose, is the subject of much controversy, because the animals are typically force fed. The city of Chicago has banned it, and California is considering similar legislation.
However, Floyd points out, banning foie gras is an easy choice for politicians.
"It hits a pretty small minority, the wealthy or people who are in the business."
Weinstein argues against foie gras, but says people also should be concerned with the much more common problem of industrially raised chickens, who live their entire lives in a 6- by 8-inch space.
When it comes to the "dos" of responsible eating, the picture becomes murkier.
"I guess start as locally as possible," Floyd says. "From a common-sense perspective, get the best seasonal ingredients and use the least amount of energy to get it to you."
It's an approach also favored by Weinstein's book, which suggests this order of priorities: local organic, local conventional, non-local organic and food produced by ethical methods. In addition, taking a cue from the 1971 classic, "Diet for a Small Planet," Weinstein recommends de-emphasizing meat in the diet, eating a core of organic whole grains and local produce. For those who eat meat, he recommends eating local, organic, humanely-raised animals, including free-range chickens and grass-fed beef, which has a lower environmental impact than the grain-fed variety.
It's advice that resonates in Boulder, where vegetarianism is popular and the Boulder County Farmers' Market is well-supported.
It's food consumption that also emphasizes flavor. The good news for those interested in eating responsibly: Eating a perfectly ripe, juice-rich Western Slope peach is a lot more pleasurable than, say, breaking down cardboard boxes to be recycled.
In fact, local, seasonal eating is considered something akin to divinely revealed truth among many chefs, beginning with Alice Waters at Chez Panisse and extending into the dining rooms of some of Boulder's finest restaurants. Culinary School of the Rockies is part of a program called the Chef's Collaborative, which seeks to promote sustainable foods. The school is integrating the philosophy into its professional chef curriculum, taking students to visit local organic farms and Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy and instructing them about sustainable seafoods.
The ethos of intense, local flavor and the appreciation of food also infuses the Slow Food movement, says the Boulder Convivium's president, Elizabeth Perreault, who also teaches at Culinary School of the Rockies.
She recalls tastings of so-called heritage turkeys, older breeds of the bird, raised in free-range conditions. One older woman remarked, "I haven't tasted turkey like this since I was a little girl," she says.
A big argument for small, local producers, says Perreault:
"Food tastes like it should."
Yet there are obstacles to the direct-farmer, seasonal approach, not the least of which is cost.
Phillips says she buys from local farmstands and the farmers' market only occasionally.
"I know the produce is delicious," she says. "But the cost — it will be more of a treat kind of thing."
While buying a share in a community supported agriculture farm can help reduce the expense of buying local, many consumers are seeking organic alternatives in the grocery store, a trend not lost on grocery executives.
"It's one of the fastest growing areas in the store," says Dan Sims, natural foods category manager for King Soopers. "I think people are just becoming more educated, becoming more conscious about what they eat. They're trying to be healthier and live longer. They're turning to healthier foods to do that."
One of the biggest controversies on the horizon is the stepped-up presence of Wal-Mart in the organics market. The super-chain has announced it will introduce an organic section this year, but with prices only about 10 percent above the market price of conventional products.
The move, which would make organic food affordable for large numbers of people, is not without its critics, who worry that the entry of large corporations into the organic market will force a dilution of standards.
"What's typically true is that they institute practices primarily aimed at reducing the cost to an absolute minimum," says Jim Schott, president of the Boulder County Farmers' Market and owner of Haystack Mountain Goat Dairy.
He has concerns about the number of miles the produce would likely have to travel.
"Low-mileage meals are important," he says, adding that they support the local economy.
And, he's worried about the flavor of the food.
"It's a product intended to travel thousands of miles. It doesn't ripen in the same way," he says.
But, he says, the lack of pesticides would be a benefit.
"It's a matter of degree," he says. "It's hard to say there are hard and fast rules. Eating organic from far away is better than eating industrial from far away."
And lower income people would have access to food without pesticide residues, a privilege now mostly available to those in the middle and upper classes.
But, as with other low-cost items, there are tradeoffs.
Wyatt Barnes, co-owner of Red Wagon Organic Farm, says the only way to get the price down is to import the food from other countries.
"We pay our employees $9 or $10 an hour. We wish we could pay more," he says.
He worries that forcing prices down could bring the equivalent of sweat shops to organic farming.
"We're able to have cheap food because somebody's being abused," he says. "You can talk about organic. Fine. It has the label. It didn't have anything sprayed on it. It's an improvement, but it still isn't particularly ethical food."
Floyd says organic standards are likely come under pressure as bigger players get involved.
"That's where the lines are going to blur," he says.
He predicts organic will divide into two categories: industrial organic and small artisan organic.
"The Ethical Gourmet: How to Enjoy Great Food That Is Humanely Raised, Sustainable, Nonendangered and That Replenishes the Earth," by Jay Weinstein (Broadway, $18.95).
www.eatwellguide.org: Lists sources for locally grown, sustainable, natural and organic food. Searchable by Zip Code.
www.localharvest.org: Lists local farmers, Community Supported Agriculture programs.
www.mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp: Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program lists sustainable seafood for consumers.
www.boulderfarmers.org: Boulder County Farmers' Market Web site lists special events, crops in season, offers recipes.
Another wrinkle: Some people argue that it's not possible to replace conventional farms with organic ones, because the yields will be much lower.
Boulder County Extension Agent Adrian Card says that's a misconception.
"There have been studies that show that organic farming has yields within 95 percent (of conventional) and many are showing no difference," he says. "It's all in providing enough fertility for crops and you can do that without synthetic fertilizers."
In the meantime, as organics continue to grow, consumers will have to choose.
Living local and seasonal
Anne Cure, owner of Cure Organic Farm, is able to practice what she preaches when it comes to seasonal, local eating.
"Our fridge right now is full of tabbouleh, pesto and summer squash shaved thin with feta cheese," she says.
As the summer continues, she will feast on tomatoes, corn, eggplant and peppers. With fall, will come winter squash, root vegetables and potatoes. She makes tomato sauce with summer produce and freezes it for cold-weather eating.
"We store a lot for ourselves. We keep potatoes, carrots, beets," she says.
In the dead of winter, as she plans crops for the following year, she eats more meat, purchased from fellow farmers at the farmers' market and frozen. And she buys some seafood.
"Our diet really changes according to the season," she says. "When there are not a lot of greens, we eat more stews and roasts."
Such a diet, attuned to the seasons, is more difficult for most.
But, if Wal-Mart's entry into the organic market proves anything, it's that consumer choices have an influence.
"These are tough choices for everybody," Floyd says. "It's great that it's being talked about. People can make better and better decisions."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Cindy Sutter at (303) 473-1335 or email@example.com.
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The Taste of Spring
By Cindy Sutter, Camera Food Editor
March 29, 2006
How do you know it's spring in Boulder?
(a) It's sunny and warm.
(b) There's a snowstorm.
(c) The Boulder County Farmers' Market opens.
Yes. All of the above. While foodies enjoy the drama of the first two like everybody else, it's the third that occupies a special place in their hearts.
Depending on the whims of Mother Nature, there's a chance that the first market on Saturday will provide local produce to gladden winter-dormant tastebuds.
Farmers won't know what they're bringing till the last minute.
"It's hard to guess," says Anne Cure of Cure Organic Farm. "It's 70 degrees in the day and 30 at night."
And that doesn't cover those spring snows. The warmer-than-normal winter has helped certain crops. Cure plants spinach, leeks and scallions in the fall, allowing them to grow slowly during the winter. They are likely to be available at the first or second market, Cure says.
Market Manager Mark Menaugh says that with Colorado's short growing season, early markets are focused mostly on gardeners, with plant starts and garden materials for sale. Tomato lovers can place orders for plants with Sweetheart Farms. Eco-Cycle will be selling compost tea, made from worm castings, as well as bagged worm castings and the worms themselves for DIY composters.
New to the market this year is Wisdom's Natural Poultry, which will supply a full range of chicken products, including eggs. And for those looking for natural beef, Colorado's Best Beef Co. will offer steaks, roasts and burgers. Customers can also order beef halves and quarters.
"We're as close to organic as you can get without having organic certification," says Gina Elliott, one of the owners of the company. "There's no organic processing plant in Colorado. Our beef has no feed antibiotics, no growth hormones and no steroids."
The cattle are Charolais-crossbred, a beef known for its flavor and tenderness. The company's beef is aged 14 to 21 days, Elliott says. Colorado's Best Beef is owned by two families. Elliott's family's cattle are raised largely in Boulder County off Jay Road, while the other cattle has a ranch south of Fort Morgan.
Elliott is excited about selling her company's meat at the farmers' market.
"It is nice to be able to meet the customers and answer questions about our products," she says. We know where everything's been and what's been done to it. It's been humanely treated and well taken care of."
While produce may not cooperate for the first market, the food court will be in full swing for those who come with an appetite.New this year is Shae's Food for Thought, which will offer salads made with ingredients from local producers whenever possible.
Menagh is particularly excited about a new feature of the market this year, to be in an area at One Boulder Plaza occupied in the winter by an ice skating rink. Opening later in the season and running once a month, the area will give space to what Menagh calls agripreneurs, people interested in growing crops for market, but who need to build experience.
"A tremendous amount of our growers and farmers have not grown up on the farm," he says. "They've been able to develop the lifestyle by using the farners' market as a base."
Menagh also is enhancing ties with local chefs, many of whom use market farmers' produce regularly at their restaurants. He plans regular chef demonstration at the market.
"We're putting them in a tent and letting them talk," he says.
Menaugh says he's looking forward to the two markets, Saturday's and the Wednesday evening market, which opens May 10.
"On Wednesday evening, we're found that we have a great atmosphere," Menagh says. "It's a wonderful evening event. People stop by and spend some time in the food court when we have the beer and wine. I've seen 100 young women with strollers. They bring their kids. They buy the food. Sometimes their husbands join them and they sit in the park in the evening next to the creek."
Of the Saturday market, he says: "It's simply a big event."
An event that area farmers are gearing up for. At Cure's farm, the hoop houses are sheltering flavorful braising greens. A couple of weeks ago, she cut her first arugula, and last week she planted tomato seeds in the in the farm's greenhouse.
It's spring, and good eating starts now.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Cindy Sutter at (303) 473-1335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Farming's next generation
By Jennie Dorris | Tuesday September 20, 2005
It's early morning on Friday, and while the sun hitting the quiet streets of Boulder only touches the shoulders of a few baristas ready to start a morning brew, Pachamama Organic Farm northwest of town is glowing with light in between the gently rolling hills.
The sunlight is baking the green fields, where the workers are bent in half, trolling row after row, harvesting.
Heidi Gerling is carrying her first load of cucumbers to the truck. She's been working since 6:15, and despite the rapidly warming temperatures, she's wearing long, durable pants, a long-sleeve shirt and her hair is up in a cowboy hat.
It's quickly apparent why - the thick vegetation is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
She looks around the fields enthusiastically.
"Did you see the sunrise? It was really pink this morning. I love being out here in the fresh air."
Gerling moves, bent over, searching for ripe cucumbers. She laughs and hands one over that's nearly the length of her arm.
"You can have that," she says. "We get huge veggies that won't sell at the market."
Gerling, who sometimes puts in 13-hour days, is harvesting for Boulder's Wednesday and Saturday farmers' markets and the farm's community-supported agriculture patrons.
It may sound like standard fare for a farmer, but a good number of people Gerling's age are sleeping off a hangover this morning. She's doing an internship from May through mid-October at the farm, which she landed after studying agriculture and getting a biology degree from the University of Colorado.
And she's only 24.
Many worry that farming is a dying profession. Gerling is in a minority among farmers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Of the 18,331 Colorado farmers in 2002, only 161 were under 25. Compare that with 5,332 farmers over 65.
The Pachamama farms started its internship program nine years ago, during its first season.
"We've got to train the next generation," says Lauren Culbertson, who with her husband, Ewell, owns the farm. "Otherwise, where are the farmers going to come from?"
For Gerling, the opportunity has been ideal. For a six-day work week, she gets $700 a month, free rent in a small house on the farm and free veggies.
"You learn way more here than in a classroom," Gerling says. "I've learned a lot about how to take care of the soil. And I've learned that there are just so many goddamned weeds."
Gerling says she "drags" her friends out to harvest with her, and they get some free veggies for their efforts. Though she's going to be heading to the Peace Corps in the spring, she wants to return and research sustainable agriculture, which she says she likes because it focuses more on soil fertility, nutritious foods and community support.
And Gerling doesn't see her age as anything that's too out of the ordinary in this field.
"I think farming among young people is taking off. I think people are becoming more educated," she says. "It's also really cool the number of women that work here. There's a lot more cool strong chicks than I thought."
She says that at night "you can't hear a single noise" and that the quiet atmosphere and long days harvesting and weeding have been a good experience.
"You get stronger and you feel so good. I've been eating so many good foods. Your life gets healthier, definitely," she says.
Across the field, Mike Leck is driving an old pickup truck around to pick up another load of cucumbers. He takes a drink from his thermos of coffee and loads a bin of cucumbers.
"I love the manual labor," he says. "I feel so good at the end of the day."
Leck, 27, got a degree in natural science from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and then served in the Peace Corps in the Philippines. He said he was attending a meeting in the Philippines that was being conducted in a language that he didn't understand, so, instead, he looked out the window and saw a young kid hard at work at a nearby farm.
He decided to come back to the States and look for work on a farm.
"The season has changed me so much," Leck says. "It's not the beautiful romantic view I had at the beginning, but I've found something I want to do more than a summer."
Gerling walks over holding a lemon cucumber.
"How do you know if this is ready?" she asks, and Leck wordlessly pulls a knife from his belt and sections off the cucumber for tasting.
"It tastes good," he says, and Ewell Culbertson drives up and offers up melons for a break-time treat.
Leck says he's thinking of either staying on the Pachamama farm for another season or helping a friend with a new organic farm in the Midwest. He throws his melon rind off into the fields and says that he hopes more people his age join the profession.
"I would love for more young people to get into it," he says. "It's healthy and natural. You saw what we grow."
If you travel east on Pearl Street past the congested shopping district, the road starts to wind outside of town and the landscape opens up to farmland. A small dirt parking lot marks the front of Cure Organic Farm.
The farm is in its first year, and was started by Anne Cure, 28, after the organic farm she used to direct, Hedgerow Organic Farm, was sold last year. Hedgerow, owned by Naropa University, was sold because of its operation expenses. Its demise was controversial in the community, and marked 20 more acres of farmland lost in Colorado.
According to the American Farmland Trust, an average of 100 million acres of farmland in the United States is lost to developers annually. And all Colorado farms aren't owned; Cure's farmland, for example, is leased.
Cure realizes why farmland in Colorado is such a hot commodity.
"You can't blame people for wanting to develop here," she says of Hedgerow's conversion to a residential lot. "It's beautiful here; why wouldn't people want to live in Colorado?"
Cure Organic Farm takes a community-driven approach to farming - it boasts that all of its crops are distributed within 50 miles of the farm. Selling directly to the Boulder farmers' markets, its community supported agriculture group and local restaurants has proven successful for Cure and her young team.
The farm's success in its inaugural season keeps Cure optimistic in the face of state trends.
"On average, farmers in Colorado are decreasing at exponential numbers - which is really unfortunate," she says.
It's noon on Thursday at the farm, and intern Claire Leamy is finishing talking with one of the farm's volunteers.
"We didn't scare you off, did we?" she jokes.
Cure has a Thursday morning volunteer program from 9 a.m. to noon where community members can come and work among the farm's small staff and help harvest organic veggies and weed the fields.
Leamy recently graduated from Wellesley College with degrees in French Cultural Studies and Environmental Studies. Her internship at the farm demands up to a 60-hour work week, for which she is compensated with a $400 monthly stipend (which increases later in the season), free rent, free farm produce and several educational opportunities including classes and field trips to other organic farms.
Despite a rigorous schedule on the farm, the thing she was most worried about was the heat.
"I wasn't sure if I could handle how warm it got out here," she says, having worked on farms in Vermont and also goat farms in rural France.
"But you get used to it," Leamy says.
Chloe Diegel, 23, assistant field manager at the farm, laughs at hearing Leamy's remark.
"You forget how hard it is every winter," she says. "And when the season starts every spring, you'll look down the fields and be like, 'How am I going to get all the way down this row?'"
The two sit with Cure at two wooden picnic tables for their lunch break.
"We try to take an hour for lunch," Diegel says. "But it doesn't always work."
The picnic tables mark the short times of relaxation from the fields - the farmers meet there at 6 a.m. to talk about the day's work. They meet there again for lunch, and at the end of the day they usually all hang out together and relax in the evenings.
"When we get together it usually centers around food," Cure says. "We'll just munch on a bag of potato chips and have a beer. Or we'll send folks out for an ice cream run."
Having a young team means that things are a bit different here. As a small kitten climbs up on the table, Cure introduces her as "Liger." And the three hotly protest that their Birkenstock clogs are not Crocs.
"This is a Croc-free zone," Cure says, laughing.
Cure's easy-going statements don't show how challenging her days are. She works side-by-side with the other farmers, but also manages the farm's paperwork and programs, including a kids' camp.
"It's important for them to learn about the simple things," she says of the children who participate in the program. "Like what a bean plant looks like, or that broccoli grows above the ground."
Cure's education and internship programs are her attempts to educate the new generation of farmers. Beyond this, she often meets with the older generation of local farmers to learn more about cultivating Colorado's land.
"We need to create a better bridge between older farmers in the area and the new farmers," she says. "They can teach us best what we need to know."
Cure has been doing paperwork all morning, but is thinking forward to the afternoon's work and tomorrow's harvest. And despite it all, she seems simultaneously calm but passionate for her work.
"It's not about all the paperwork," she says, petting Liger's belly. "The heart of what I do is on the farm, out in the fields."
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Farmers look for small plots- County program may change to help lease small parcels
By Kelly Davidson, For the Camera
October 28, 2005
When Anne and Paul Cure decided to open their organic farm last year, they hoped to acquire land through the leasing program administered by the Agricultural Resources Division of the Boulder County Parks and Open Space department.
They were disappointed to learn the program only leased farmland measuring more than 40 acres. Frustrated by limited land access, they considered leaving the county to find more suitable, affordable land.
In the end, they leased acreage in Boulder from a private owner and opened Cure Organic Farm in February.
But they almost took their farm elsewhere. And discussions are under way in the county about a way to modify the leasing program to avoid losing small farms in the future.
"People are moving out of the county because they can't find the smaller parcels of land or afford to buy private land," Anne Cure said. "The land is just not accessible to small farmers."
The Cures' situation is one of several that prompted Parks and Open Space to re-evaluate the situation.
Local farmers first expressed the need for smaller parcels during recent meetings of the Boulder County Food and Agriculture Policy Council.
Earlier this month, the Small Farm Committee, with eight small farm operators in the area, was formed to explore leasing options. The committee will provide Parks and Open Space with the input to develop an additional leasing model that can accommodate farm operations in need of less than 40 acres.
Under current guidelines, the department leases 13,000 acres of irrigated farmland to farmers through a bidding process. The leases stipulate the county must approve any subleases for acres of the land.
The department is considering a new leasing model in which several farmers can join a growers' association to lease 40 or more acres together.
This model would open the leasing program to small farmers and minimize the county's administrative burden while working with the county's existing 40-acre parcels, said Adrian Card, who works with the parks department and the food council to coordinate the Small Farm Committee.
• The Small Farm Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in the Extension Meeting Room of the Natural Resources Building at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, near Hover and Nelson in Longmont.
Under the proposed model, the growers' association would assume the responsibility of dividing the land and administering the logistics of sharing irrigation water, field access and other resources.
"We would be leasing to one entity. We don't want to micromanage the parcels," said Luke Stromquist with the agricultural resources division.
To survey demand for smaller parcels and discuss the growers' association model, the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension will host a public meeting Thursday.
During the meeting, the Small Farm Committee will seek input from current or prospective farmers who are interested in smaller parcels, ranging from three to 20 acres.
"I want to see more small farms," said Anne Cure, who plans to attend. "If we make our land more accessible, more farmers will come and our farm markets will grow."
For Wyatt Barnes, co-owner of Red Wagon Organic Farm in Boulder, the decision to participate on the committee was easy. He and his business partner currently lease 10 acres of land from a private owner, but they only use seven of those acres most of the time.
"We'll fill the extra acres with pumpkins in the fall, but we don't really need them," he said. "We make it work, but small farmers need more land options."
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Home cooking- Restaurants, local farms work together to put Boulder County food on patrons' plates
By Cindy Sutter, Camera Food Editor
September 21, 2005
Farmer Anne Cure has seen it often at the Boulder County Farmers' Market. A person tries a sample of, say, a tomato or a peach. He gets a faraway look in his eyes, and then he says, "This tastes like the food I ate as a child."
Whether the remembered food was from Grandma's garden or a cousin's farm, it had these things in common: It was local, and it was fresh.
While Boulderites have been putting fresh, local produce on their kitchen tables since the opening of the farmers' market in 1987, increasingly they're seeing newly picked produce from local fields in some of Boulder's finest restaurants, as well.
The idea of eating seasonally has been a byword among American chefs since 1971, when Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse in Berkeley, Calif., ushering in an appreciation for cooking that celebrates high-quality ingredients, well-prepared. In Boulder, chefs have long been cooking seasonally. But only in recent years have they begun to work very closely with local farmers, requesting certain types of produce and timing menu items around the arrival of a particular type of beet or an heirloom tomato, rather than buying from large suppliers or simply picking up produce at the farmers' market.
"Although Boulder is very health-food oriented, people still struggle to eat locally as well as organic," says Cure, owner of Cure Organic Farm, who estimates about 25 percent of her business is restaurant sales. "It takes a lot of work for a restaurant to work with a farm."
The relationship can be difficult to manage.
Restaurants need a dependable supply, and they need to be able to make a profit. It's more complex dealing with multiple small orders from several small farmers, rather than buying from a few large suppliers.
For small farming operations, making a produce delivery in the afternoon a couple of times a week can take away time from harvesting. In addition, restaurants have special needs. They often require uniformity in the size and appearance of produce, since the dishes must be attractive, as well as tasty.
"If we're going to do a tomato salad for the guests, we peel the tomatoes," says Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson, chef and co-owner of Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder. "If (a tomato is) half the size of my fingernail, that doesn't do me any good. At the farmers' market, how cute, I'd take the stem off and pop it in my mouth like a Chicklet. At our restaurant, that just doesn't work."
But as the relationship develops, both farmers and restaurateurs learn mutual respect.
Says Wyatt Barnes of Red Wagon Organic Farm: "We go out of our way for Lachlan, but he's so appreciative."
And the rewards can be great.
"I think it's like anytime we've had an experience when we taste something local, even drinking local wines in Europe," says Matthew Jansen, chef and owner of Mateo in Boulder. "There's something really magical about that. This week we've got sweet corn from Olathe, Colorado peaches from Durazno. We've got a lot of white rainbow and red Swiss chard from Red Wagon and from Cure. Then they've got beautiful baby arugula, baby fennel. We're serving both of those items. The beautiful braising mix and baby romaines that they're doing for our salad is really nice."
On a recent morning at Red Wagon, Barnes and his business partner Amy Tisdale, work in the fields planted with several varieties of beans, tomatoes, melons and squash. The farm of about 10 acres, which sits off Valmont Road, sells about 10 percent of its produce to restaurants, including Frasca, The Kitchen, Mateo, L'Atelier and the Boulder Cork. Barnes says his relationship with local restaurants is built on mutual trust.
"They trust what we have is good," he says. "We won't offer it if it doesn't taste good."
Conversely, Tisdale says, local restaurants want farmers to succeed.
"They understand how low our profit margin is," she says. "They realize it's going to cost something different from a big supplier."
During the off-season, Barnes and Tisdale get together with local chefs to look at seed catalogs and talk about planting unusual varieties of vegetables and herbs.
"We tried several varieties of red tomatoes this year to find some of a better size and flavor," he says.
Cure says it can work particularly well when a farm supplies a specific vegetable. For example, Potager in Denver asked her to grow celeriac.
"I enjoy harvesting what has already been sold," she says. "It takes a little of the risk out of it."
Frasca's entire staff has visited Red Wagon to see where the restaurant's produce comes from. Mackinnon-Patterson says local produce is an education on the shortness of Colorado's growing season.
"Every second course (on the current menu) celebrates this small window," he says. "People may ask, 'How come there's tomatoes on three different starters?' I tell the guest it's time to celebrate. As soon as it's done, there are no more tomatoes at Frasca."
And then there's the extreme flavor advantage of putting the produce on the table within hours of its picking.
"Just because it's organic, doesn't mean it's ripened on the vine," Mackinnon-Patterson says. "(Good cooking is) not only using seasonal food, but using it at the peak of when it's ready."
Says The Kitchen's Co-chef and Co-owner Kimbal Musk: "There's not a question. The food that's picked that day and eaten that day doesn't compare to something that's been delivered 1,500 miles. ... The best organic carrot in California doesn't compare."
Musk says there's another advantage: Local farmers will pick vegetable varieties best suited to the Colorado climate.
"A farmer in Boulder is going to grow what works best for Colorado," he says.
Musk's restaurant posts the origin of each of its menu ingredients on a blackboard in the restaurant. There's another benefit, as well, Musk says.
"If people live in the community growing food for the local community, they're going to care more about the land," he says.
For the farmers, it's gratifying to get feedback from diners.
"I'm surprised when people come to market and say 'I had your beets at Mateo or The Kitchen.' I'm surprised they put that connection together," Tisdale says.
Cure says it's valuable knowledge for the customer, as well.
"It makes people who sit down to dinner have more connection with where food comes from."
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Green genes lead woman to Boulder
Cure Organic Farm
By Ellen Sweets
The grower: Anne Cure, Cure Organic Farm, Boulder.
Her products: Onions, leeks, potatoes, squash, parsnips, heirloom tomatoes, lettuces, melons, herbs, five kinds of cucumber and a variety of greens - more than 90 crops all told.
Her story: Even if you're driving the posted speed limit along Valmont Road - and few do - you might not see the hand-painted sign announcing Cure Organic Farm.
The whimsical pictograph has the look of folk art, with a trio of carrots in the left corner, mountains in the center and a brown rooster in the right corner. It also announces the presence of an endangered species: the small farm.
Here, Anne Cure is doing what she was destined to do: running her own farm. It began with the animal farm her parents launched in upstate New York decades ago to keep her and her five brothers and sisters busy. Although her attention turned to psychology by college, it was with a view toward incorporating therapy with herbal remedies.
"I worked on a farm then, learning about medicinal herbs, although I started out doing weeding - lots of weeding," she says, sitting in the shade of a giant cottonwood tree, looking beyond rows of broccoli, kale and chard.
Cabbage moths strafe the rows, seeking places to deposit eggs. Because the farm is organic, Cure uses no chemical pesticides to discourage them. By way of explanation, she retraces the route that brought her to the 10-acre farm that bears her name.
"Weeding wasn't my favorite thing to do, but watching things grow is almost magical," she says. She got hooked on farming. Her interest took her to a farm in Washington state as a farm manager, where the owner grew 180 vegetables that were certified organic.
There she met and married Paul Cure, who was subsequently asked to run Boulder's Stage House Gallery. Anne landed jobs at Full Circle Farm, then as manager of Hedgerow Farm, a 10-acre tract owned by Naropa University. Three years later, Naropa sold the property.
"Despite our best efforts to raise enough money, we couldn't pull it off," she says. "So we folded up plastic, dismantled the greenhouse and stored it on land rented by another local farmer, John Ellis. What we didn't take as salvage we bought or Naropa gifted it to us."
Ellis, who has been farming since his release from the Army in 1970, leased 10 acres to the Cures, where they live with their children.
Cure farm is sustained by sales at the Boulder Farmers Market, area restaurants, a seven-week educational camp and a community-supported agriculture program.
The CSA springs from a European model in which participants essentially buy shares in a farm's seasonal harvest and get produce weekly. It's a boon for farmers because it supports general operating costs. Members pay on a sliding scale, depending on family size, and receive a weekly supply of whatever is ripe that week. The two Cure children have their own "giving garden" of produce that is distributed to elderly Boulder residents who might not otherwise have fresh vegetables.
"Early June there's not much," Cure says. "The variety and supply change, depending on what ripens when, so it's always a surprise. This year we have 91 families. It's a way for them to be familiar with seasonal harvesting and to cook creatively in the kitchen.
"So, no, it's not like going to the grocery store and buying something that might have been picked 10 days ago and traveled 1,000 miles in a refrigerated truck. Once people taste a carrot pulled from the ground or the sweetness of a fresh beet, they almost always say, 'I never tasted anything like this,' or, 'I haven't tasted anything like this since I was a child.'
"Children like to come and see the chickens and watch us collect eggs. It gives them a connection to what they eat. They can't get that in a grocery store, even if it's Whole Foods.
"We tell CSA members we can meet (for delivery) at a point in Boulder or Denver, or they can come to the farm and pick it up. It's amazing how many people opt to come to the farm."
Chefs come from restaurants too. Cure now provides vegetables and herbs to Sunflower, Flagstaff House, Mateo, Frasca and The Kitchen in Boulder; and to Potager in Denver. Potager owner Teri Rippeto is a familiar sight at Boulder Farmers Market, pulling her little red wagon, loading and reloading it for transfer to her car before returning to her Capitol Hill restaurant.
"I've been dealing with Anne ever since she was at Hedgerow," Rippeto says. "I buy from the farmers because it's better, and it's in season, and it's what we all should be doing. I'm just going through some beautiful tomatoes that the farmer said he couldn't sell (to a local grocer) because they were too small. "People say they want big and perfect, but nature doesn't grow things that way. To me, these are perfect."
Kimbal Musk, chef and co-owner of The Kitchen, says he and partner Hugo Matheson wouldn't have done their restaurant here if they hadn't found Cure and other area small farmers.
"I'm from Pretoria (South Africa), and my father had a restaurant and a tomato farm, so we have a different attitude about eating food fresh from the fields," he says. "I've been terribly disappointed in organic food grown on a mass agricultural scale. Federal regulations just aren't as stringent as true organic rules are."
So Cure and farmers like her carry on, buoyed by increasing numbers of families concerned about health and the origins of their food.
"Kids love to be in the fields," Cure says. "They feed the chickens and collect the eggs. On Thursday they harvest from their little garden, prepare the meal, and everyone has lunch.
"Parents pick them up and say, 'He ate green beans? He doesn't like green beans.' And I say, 'That's because he never planted them, watched them grow, picked them and cooked them. Just wait until the broccoli comes up."'
Where to buy: Boulder Farmers Market 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturdays through Nov. 5; 4-8 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 5, or directly from the farm, 7416 Valmont Road, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Saturdays by appointment only. The farm is closed Sundays. For information, call 303-666-6397 or e-mail email@example.com.
Staff writer Ellen Sweets can be reached at 303-820-1284 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Market looks for city support
Farmers' venue wants to expand, become year-round
By Vanessa Miller, Daily Camera
August 11, 2005
A spike in shoppers browsing Boulder County's farmers' markets, and an increase in growers lining up to sell their produce, could mean changes for the summer venues.
Market officials have proposed expanding the geographic borders of the Boulder market site and have considered making the market a year-round event.
But for both the Boulder and Longmont markets to grow, government support is necessary, Jim Schott, president of the Boulder County Farmers' Market, said Wednesday at the third annual State of the Farm luncheon.
"We are looking for city cooperation," Schott said. "We have some issues to deal with, because we can't fit any more growers."
The Boulder County Farmers' Market allows its more than 60 farmer members to sell products Wednesdays and Saturdays at 13th Street and Canyon Boulevard, and Saturdays at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont.
In the market organization's 19th season, which started in April and runs through November, farmers have seen a 45 percent increase in Boulder sales Wednesdays over last year and a 25 percent rise in sales at the Longmont site.
"We're having more and more participation," Schott said, noting that more than 300,000 people a year shop at the markets.
"It has grown every year since its existence," he said. "We provide a connection between what's on the table and where it comes from."
With growing interest in organic produce and the increase in local farmers wanting to sell directly to consumers, the farmers' markets reached maximum capacity last year, forcing officials to turn away applicants or limit participation this summer.
Possible solutions include making the markets year-round events and expanding the Boulder site beyond Canyon Boulevard to the north or Arapahoe Avenue to the south, Schott said. Market officials have had "encouraging" discussions with One Boulder Plaza, across Canyon on 13th, about providing additional selling space for venders.
"But we have been unable to encourage, force or threaten venders vendors to move across that deadly street," Schott said. "The success of that will hinge on our ability to encourage the city to cooperate."
Additional signs would help, Schott said. But eventually, officials would like the market to have a permanent home. It rents its space from the city for $5,000.
Solidifying its place in the community would permit the market to guarantee sufficient vender space, additional free parking, storage for equipment and office room.
The city could help to establish a permanent home for the market by granting the Farmers' Market exclusive use of the 13th Street site, officials said. But so far, the city has rejected that proposal and requests to reduce or eliminate the market's rental fee. Boulder Deputy Mayor Tom Eldridge said cutting the rate would not save the market much money.
"But permanent signage, I don't have a problem with," Eldridge said. "We are willing to work with them and talk, but we cannot meet all their needs."
Another obstacle the Farmers' Market faces as its type of venue grows in popularity is competition from "copycat" groups. Since 1994, there has been a 111 percent increase in the number of markets nationwide, including several local venues, officials said.
But local officials argue they are not all equal. Many that are not farmer-owned like Boulder County's transport products from other states and nations.
With tears in his eyes, Kimbal Musk, co-owner of The Kitchen, 1039 Pearl St., talked about the importance of using locally grown products and the authenticity it can bring to a meal.
"It's only fresh if it's local," said Musk, who cooks with produce from the Farmers' Market. "We only work with farms with integrity. We want to support local farms because they are excited about what they are growing."
Despite the challenge the Farmers' Market faces, Anne Cure, owner of Cure Organic Farm at 7416 Valmont Road, said she remains excited about her work and believes in the market's benefits.
"Without the Farmers' Market, I don't think we'd have land this year," said Cure, who grows about 95 varieties of produce on 10 acres of property. "And people want to be a part of this. We are fortunate to be in a community with people who want to do that."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Vanessa Miller at (303) 473-1329 or email@example.com.
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Organic farm's end
By ERIN WIGGINS Colorado Daily Staff Writer
For Anne Cure, director of Naropa University's Hedgerow Farm in East Boulder, reaping this year's final harvest was bittersweet.
Cure, who has farmed at the community organic farm for three years, is packing up and moving out this week because the Buddhist-based university in central Boulder is selling the 20-acre farm to a private buyer.
"What it means for us is starting over," Cure said Tuesday as she examined the final few florets of broccoli left on the property. "I'm disappointed that it has to be sold, but I understand why. It's just that it won't be a farm - that's the biggest disappointment to me."
Naropa has owned the community farm since 1996, but last spring, university officials announced plans to sell Hedgerow due to the high operation costs. At the time, many hoped Naropa would find a buyer who was willing to keep the property as farmland.
"Operating Hedgerow Farm has resulted in a substantial loss for the university each year," Naropa spokesperson Sigrid Badinelli said Tuesday. "Naropa's goal with the sale was to recover its equity in the farm." The farm, seven miles east of Boulder, included six acres of pesticide- and herbicide-free vegetable, flower and herb fields and four acres of conservation land on which animals such as chickens and goats were raised. Cure and her team of coworkers, interns, students and community members sold the Hedgerow crops at the Boulder's Farmer's Market, The Boulder Co-op and at least seven Denver and Boulder restaurants, including Caf/ Prasad and Mateo. The land was also crop-shared with the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, which allowed community members to purchase a share of the season's harvest and work on the land in their spare time. Former Hedgerow intern Cindy Torres is spearheading a petition drive and outreach for the property, which has been Boulder farmland since the 1870s. She said Tuesday the response has been overwhelming, mostly in "disappointment" in Naropa.
"We're trying so hard to get the word out," she said. "The ideal situation would be to keep Hedgerow a farm. ... One of the great things about Hedgerow is it's open to the community."
Badinelli said it was a "tough decision" for Naropa to sell Hedgerow, but with the costs saved, the institution could increase scholarships and maintain and develop programs on campus.
"The intention and the wish would have been to have kept the property as a farm," she said. "But that was just not possible to do. ... There were no viable financial proposals received that would have kept the land as a farm." The City of Boulder was at first considered to purchase the farm through its Open Space program. City Open Space Director Cathy Vaughan-Grabowski said the City Board of Trustees visited the property but ultimately decided not to purchase it at Naropa's $1.5 million asking price. "We didn't purchase it and, no, we're not going to purchase it," she said. "It isn't something that fits into the mission right now." P.J. Lahn, the Coldwell Banker agent for the buyer, did not return phone calls Tuesday about the issue and Naropa declined to comment on the purchase price. Cure said the buyer planned to build a residential home on the property, although the land will still be considered "agriculture." She said she thinks that means they "can have some horses or some hay" on site. Cure's farming group is now looking for a new property to continue its enterprise, but it will have to sell many of the animals and essentially start over, particularly in the community outreach and participation in the CSA. "What this farm gives to people in the community is incredible," she said. "Boulder's Farmer's Market is one of the top five in the nation, but where is our land? If the land goes away, that goes away - as we keep selling off farmland for prairie paradises." Badinelli insisted the type of agriculture and programs at Hedgerow wouldn't just cease to exist because of the financial decision.
"Because Naropa had to make this decision to sell that farm does not mean Naropa is abandoning its commitment to sustainability and sustainable education," she said. "It has made plans to continue the kinds of education programs run at the farm in other ways."
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The Yellow Scene
February 2005, Vol. 5 Issue 1
From Field to Fork
The fifteen mile stretch of asphalt between County Line Road in Erie and Boulder's Pearl Street Mall, has no less than four different names. As the name changes from Pearl to Valmont to Isabelle to Leon Whurl, alert east-bound drivers will note various stages of the County's history passing by their windows. A small collegiate city gives way to the remains of an interstate rail hub, which expands into farm and ranch land before the sudden appearance of new suburban neighborhoods and the occasional hint of the mining industry. Valmont's train cars and the mine tailing piles near Leon Whurl are the last vestiges of old Boulder County. Both of these aspects faded as suburban development claimed land, leaving the farmers as the only link to the county's history.
However, while the agricultural facet of Boulder County has also been greatly reduced over the years, local farming and ranching still does healthy business throughout East County. Even so, it's not as easy as you might think to find local cuts or crops on neighborhood menus. We learned why, and where you can still find homegrown goods.
The simplest answer is the same reason you have a heavy coat hanging by your front door: it's cold during the winter. The local growing season is relatively short, when compared to the year-round growing climates of many sea level states. Most medium price restaurants aim for consistency, and that means always serving the same favorite flavors to customers, a goal that becomes impossible if the ingredients are only available from July to October.
Secondly, restaurants want a deal. Most local growers make the bulk of their profits from retail sales at the seasonal farmer's markets in Boulder, Longmont and beyond.
Restaurants expect substantial wholesale discounts from suppliers, discounts that huge companies like SYSCO are happy to provide, but that prove prohibitive for small farms. Ewell Culbertson, owner of Pachamama Farms in Longmont, explains:
“It's a matter of convenience and price. Chefs can call up SYSCO and place an order in the morning for delivery that afternoon. Independent growers like ourselves just aren't set up to handle that. Chefs are expected to keep costs down. Our only restaurant account is one that is owned by its chef, who goes out of her way to use local products.”
The chef in question is Teri Rippeto, who owns Denver's Potager. She specializes in seasonal cuisine and local products, changing her menu monthly to utilize recent harvests. Accommodating her requests is easy, says Culbertson, because she comes to him as essentially a high-volume retail buyer. “She drives up to the Boulder Farmers' Market and buys directly from our booth. She buys the vegetables that we have, and though we do give her a small discount, it's nothing like corporate wholesale.”
Rippeto also buys from East Boulder's Cure Organic Farm on Valmont, managed by Anne Cure, who used to run Naropa's Hedgerow Farm, until its recent sale. Cure Organic, like Pachamama, does a substantial part of its business through Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA. Small farms sell CSA memberships to families and individuals. A membership buys a season's worth (about $200-$400) of produce up front. Farmers get early cash, and consumers get a box of fresh-off-the-vine local organic produce delivered weekly to a pick-up location such as the fairgrounds in Longmont or the Boulder Farmers Market. The contents change throughout the season, ensuring a variety of fresh fruits and veggies for summer and fall. For those who like to get their hands dirty, many CSAs offer a “working share” at a reduced price in exchange for a few hours of month of labor.
Another local independent is Red Wagon Farms. Like Cure Organic, Red Wagon is located on Valmont in East Boulder. Run by Lafayette local Wyatt Barnes, Red Wagon is considering a CSA, but makes most of its money at the seasonal farmers' markets and roadside stands. They are so well-attended and lucrative, growers have little incentive to deal with the discounts and logistics of restaurant accounts. “Retail is 98% of my business,” says Barnes, “I sell to a few Boulder restaurants like Frasca, The Kitchen, and Mateo, but it's so much easier to bring my produce to the markets, or to our tent at 95th & Arapahoe. People stop by the tent on their way home, or they make special trips to the markets.” Nevertheless, Barnes notes that he plans on expanding his restaurant accounts this year.
So what about the restaurants? What local products do they use? There is one name oft-repeated across Boulder County: Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese. This Niwot dairy is represented in many local restaurants, including such East County spots as Pasquini's, Tortuga's, Proto's Pizzerias and Le Chantecler, as well as Q's in Boulder, the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, and about 75 others across Colorado. While Haystack Mountain also sells its cheese at the nearby farmers' markets, the popularity of their products, along with the stacks of awards from the American Cheese Society, drives the bulk of their business: selling to distributors like Longmont's Cheese Importers, grocery wholesalers (King Soopers, Whole Foods, Wild Oats) and artisan cheese shops. However, as with produce, the farmers' markets give gourmets an opportunity to buy the freshest possible product. If you don't want to wait until the markets reopen, drop by the dairy from noon to 2pm on Tuesdays and Saturdays, when you can get a tour, meet the goats, and take home a wedge or two of cracker fodder for yourself.
For a meatier taste of East County, look no further than Erie. Just west of I-25, beef lovers will find Silva's Highland cattle farm. These furry bovines are of Scottish descent, but are born and raised in Erie. They're eaten in Erie as well; you can find them on the menu at the Colorado Coal Company. Another Erie export is pork. Formaggio's Pizza on County Line Road dots its pies with spicy slices of Dad's Sausage, made by Erie local Richard Dominico.
Ultimately, it's clear that one or two local items are the most diners should expect from their local restaurants. A commitment to local goods made by independent producers is an expensive one, and thus is only made by a handful of restaurants, such as Potager or The Kitchen, in markets like Denver and Boulder that are large enough to support the high cost of the ingredients. However, those interested in supporting local farmers should consider a CSA membership, which will provide your own kitchen with greens and vegetables from fields that, just maybe, you can see from out your own window.
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