Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Crisis = Change = Opportunity

Given the fallout in our global financial markets and a new administration in Washington, we have a small window of opportunity to advocate for meaningful change in our agricultural system.

Here are two ways you can make your wishes known to the the administration:
  • If you would like to encourage President-elect Obama to choose sustainably minded Under Secretaries in the new USDA, please sign this grassroots petition from Food Democracy Now. This one is time sensitive, so act now!
  • If you'd like to endorse a set of principles to create a national sustainable food and agriculture policy, check out Food Declaration.Org.

Pass these along to everyone you know. If we can garner a million signatures or more, folks in Washinston will have to sit up and take notice.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

FeedDenver: Check This Out!

I recently met with two incredible entrepreneurs who are working to start an urban/vertical farm in Denver. You can visit their website at www.feeddenver.com. If you've never heard of vertical farms, you can take a YouTube video tour here.

Why build a vertical farm in the middle of the city? Here are some reasons to think about, compliments of vertical farms.org:

"By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth's population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices.

"The concept of indoor farming is not new, since hothouse production of tomatoes, a wide variety of herbs, and other produce has been in vogue for some time. What is new is the urgent need to scale up this technology to accommodate another 3 billion people. An entirely new approach to indoor farming must be invented, employing cutting edge technologies. The Vertical Farm must be efficient (cheap to construct and safe to operate). Vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world's urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming."

Other advantages of vertical farms:
  • Year-round crop production; 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending upon the crop (e.g., strawberries: 1 indoor acre = 30 outdoor acres)
  • No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
  • VF virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
  • VF returns farmland to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services
  • VF greatly reduces the incidence of many infectious diseases that are acquired at the agricultural interface
  • VF converts black and gray water into potable water by collecting the water of evapotranspiration
  • VF adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edibleparts of plants and animals
  • VF dramatically reduces fossil fuel use (no tractors, plows, shipping.)
  • VF converts abandoned urban properties into food production centers
  • VF creates sustainable environments for urban centers
  • VF creates new employment opportunities

It's exciting to see this idea taking root in our city. The thing that most appeals to me is the opportunity to build and strenghten local communities around food production -- the one absolutely recession-proof industry.

FeedDenver has linked up with Transitions Denver and SPROUT (Sustainable People Reaching Out for Urban Transformation) to join energies with others working toward similar urban agricultural goals. Cirrently, they are evaluating sites, gathering numbers, networking with neighbors, professionals, and civic leaders. They are also seeking assistance with financial projections (especially Market Farm or CSA numbers), design/architecture/concept drawings, and input from an experienced permaculturist/bio-intensivist/hydro-aquaponicist.

If you are interested in getting involved in this project, email them at info@feeddenver.com

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Celebrate the Winter Solstice

What gardener does not celebrate the coming and passing of the winter solstice?

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I offer the following -- in celebration and thanksgiving.

The Shortest Day
by Susan Cooper

"So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,

And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!

All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!"

Wishing you all the blessings of the season.....and longer, warmer days as we go forward.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Gearing Up for the Next Growing Season

It's never too early to start planning your very own garden. Before you know it, we'll be getting our first seed catalogs in the mail! Meanwhile, there are lots of training opportunities around for folks who want to learn how to grow their own vegetables.

Here's one that's near and dear to my heart:

Denver Urban Gardens Master Community Gardener program.
This is a 10-week course designed to train community leaders in community organizing as well as basic horticultural skills growing vegetables and fruits in Colorado. This hands-on course teaches participants the skills they need to create and maintain strong, vibrant and sustainable community gardens. Applications are now being accepted until January 16, 2009 and classes start in February. For an informational flyer, click here. For an application and class schedule, click here.

Here are some cool classes offered by Denver Botanic Gardens:

Sustainable Greenhouse Design
December 14, 2008, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Instructors: Penn and Cord Parmenter
Morrison Center
Have you ever wondered if it could be done? Can you create a greenhouse that needs NO supplemental heating year round? - the answer is yes!! This greenhouse design, involving stored water as thermal mass and our bountiful Colorado sun, can be used with recycled materials or new. You can apply this method to pre-existing greenhouses, attached or single units. Water is the most efficient thermal mass but there are many other options as well - learn how to use them while recycling all kinds of materials. The Parmenters built their greenhouse out of 90% recycled materials and it sits on top of a decomposed granite mountain at 8,120 ft. This technique works at any altitude. Fresh, organic food year round in Colorado is a sure thing - we have more than enough sun. There's always something to eat!

FEES:
Members, $49.00
Non Members, $56.00
Day of Class Member Fee, $59.00
Day of Class Non Member Fee, $66.00

Walk-in registrations will be charged a $10 late fee.

Getting Your Garden Ready for Spring
January 20, 2009, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Classroom B, Denver Botanic Gardens
It's the dead of winter now, but spring prep chores will soon begin! Just as you had to put your garden "to bed" for winter, there are many important tasks to help your garden wake up and get ready for the growing season. This class will cover undoing mulch and compost, amending soil, garden clean-up, rose care, perennials, what to prune or not to prune, lawn preparation, irrigation tune-up, cleaning your tools, and more. FEES: $24 member, $29 non-member. Day of class: $34/$39. Instructor: Jackie Burghardt

Sustainability Film Series: Sister Bee
February 19, 2009, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Denver Botanic Gardens
Enjoy a lyrical and beautiful documentary (filmed in Boulder) about six women beekeepers who encounter startling beauty and spiritual truth in their work with honeybees. We are fortunate to be able to present a special panel discussion with some of the beekeepers themselves, as well as Laura Tyler, the filmmaker, following the film. Don’t miss this memorable and moving event. $8 member, $10 non-member. Space is limited: register early!

And here are some other options -- presented by Transition Boulder County:

Bringing Transition Home: Case Studies in Permaculture
January 14, 2009 from 7pm to 9pm
Boulder Meadows Community Room
How can humans live on Earth in harmony, abundance, grace and ease for eons into the future? Sandy Cruz and Barbara Mueser will discuss how the Permaculture approach has inspired transition in their personal lives, creating small local changes which ripple out to the wider environment. By transforming and connecting diverse facets of our lives — love of nature, food strategies, building techniques, natural healing, indigenous wisdom, new inventions, finance, transportation, community and more — we can regenerate landscapes and culture, moving towards abundance for all. This event, organized by High Altitude Permaculture & Transition Boulder County, is free and open to the public.

Solar Greenhouse Design Weekend with Sandy Cruz and Jeff Graef
February 7, 2009 at 10am to February 8, 2009 at 4:30pm

Location to be announced
Use the winter season to design an integrated, sustainable greenhouse using passive and active solar architecture, slanted or vertical glazing, and earth-friendly building materials. Learn solar design principles along with the nuts and bolts of greenhouse materials and technologies. We’ll consider the strengths and weaknesses of several existing greenhouses, and demonstrate Permaculture site analysis and brainstorming techniques and work on solar greenhouse designs. Please contact Transition Boulder County to register.

Garden Design and Planning - a la Permaculture, with Sandy Cruz and Jason Gerhardt
March 14, 2009 from 10am to 4:30pm –
Locations to be announced
It’s time to begin creating this year’s garden! Learn to imitate Nature by establishing garden polycultures that produce a diverse mix of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers.We’ll take a virtual tour of Sandy’s garden, consider springtime gardening priorities, and look at strategies for working with our local Rocky Mountain climate. Using Permaculture design principles, we’ll consider where to place the garden, how to build it, what to plant in it, and where to obtain seeds, bedding plants, shrubs and trees. Participants will plant seeds to take home, and will learn how to care for young bedding plants. Please contact
Transition Boulder County to register.

Permaculture through the Seasons - An 8 Month Design Certification Course
March 21, 2009 at 9am

Location to be announced.
How can humans live on Earth in harmony, abundance, grace and ease for eons into the future?Permaculture is the art of creating living ecosystems that imitate nature to provide food, fuel and shelter. Using innovative and indigenous agricultural techniques as well as appropriate technologies, course participants will learn to move towards living sustainably. Through multifaceted learning techniques — hands-on projects, tours, slide shows, exercises, lectures and readings — students will acquire knowledge of Permaculture Design for our Rocky Mountain bioregion and beyond. Course meets the third weekend of each month through October 18th.
Program Cost is $950.00 if registered by 1/21/09, $1050.00 if registered by 2/21/09, and $1200.00 after 2/21. Work/study scholarships available based on financial need and skills. To register, contact Sandy Cruz at 303-459-3494. More info at http://hialtpc.org

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Locally Grown Christmas Trees

Thanks to the Colorado Department of Agriculture -- here's a list of Xmas Tree farms and providers in Colorado:

ADAMS COUNTY

Palizzi Farm
15380 Bromley Lane (6th & Bromley Lane)
Brighton
(303) 659-1970

April 15 - December 24
Daily, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Christmas trees.

U.S. Hwy. 85 north to Bromley Lane, right 1 mile. East side of the King Soopers Shopping Center.

BOULDER COUNTY

Munson's Farm
7355 Valmont Rd.
Boulder, CO 80301
(303) 442-5330

December 1 - December 21Daily, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

U.S. 36 to Boulder, turn right on Pearl, proceed east till it becomes Valmont. Northwest corner of Valmont and 75th Street.

DELTA COUNTY

Delicious Orchards
1450 Hwy. 133
Paonia
(970) 527-1110
E-mail: jeff@freshapplecider.com
Web site: www.organicorchardonline.com

Daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Christmas trees.

1 1/2 miles west (down valley) from Paonia on Hwy. 133.

DENVER COUNTY

Tree Land Christmas Trees
1710 S. Sante Fe. (Sante Fe & Cherokee St.)
Denver, CO 80120
(720) 234-5988

November 20 - December 25
9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Tree Land Christmas Trees is Colorado's Largest Retail lot, ovr 3000 trees to chose from and 500 trees standing daily! Tree Land also has the nicest wreaths and garland at the best prices.

1-25 to Sante Fe to Cherokee St., 1 block north of Evans off ramp next to Scrubs Car Wash.

ELBERT COUNTY

Coastalfields
Agate
(720) 207-3642 (call first)
E-mail: directors@coastalfields.com
Web site: www.coastalfields.com

Year-round
Daily, dawn - dusk

Christmas trees.

Located 40 miles east of Denver. 1-70 to Exit 340, west to CR 153, right on CR 162, left on CR 147, right on CR 160.

JEFFERSON COUNTY

Luckylure Holiday Activity Center
5231 Hwy. 73
Evergreen, CO 80439
(303) 674-5777
Web site: www.coloradochristmastrees.com

November 28 - December 20
Monday - Thursday, 12 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Friday - Sunday, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Santa vists Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.

A festive Colorado Mountain atmosphere with a creekside meadow. Free stockings for all kids, free refreshments, free 2009 calendars. Trees are all fresh pre-cut. Featuring Colorado Native and farm trees, wreaths, garland and gift shop.

I-70 to Evergreen Parkway (Highway 74) to Highway 73, right 1 mile.

Tree Land Christmas Trees
12390 West 64th Ave.
Arvada, CO 80004(720) 219-3471

November 22 - December 25
9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Tree Land Christmas Trees offer the nicest and freshest Christmas Trees available as well as wreaths and garland. Tree Land Christmas Trees are cut months after large retail stores for freshness through Christmas. We will also be offering free hot chocolate.

Southeast corner of 64th and Ward, directly in front of King Soopers.

Tree Land Christmas Trees
Alameda and Wadsworth
Lakewood, CO 80226
(720) 234-5988

November 28 - December 25
9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Tree Land Christmas Trees offer the nicest and freshest Christmas Trees available as well as wreaths and garland. Tree Land Christmas Trees are cut months after large retail stores for freshness through Christmas.

Alameda and Wadsworth. Southeast corner of Belmar Shopping Center parking lot.

LAS ANIMAS COUNTY

Colt Ranch Bed & Breakfast
10,000 County Rd. 43.6
Trinidad
(719) 845-0353
E-mail: coltranch@msn.com
Web site: www.coltranch.com

Year-round
Daily, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Christmas trees.

15 miles west of Trinidad on Hwy. 12. CR 43.6 is 0.7 miles west of Ringo's Market in Segundo, CO.

MONTROSE COUNTY

Covered Bridge Ranch
17249 6250 Rd.Montrose
(970) 240-0106E-mail: gariessen@peoplepc.com

Starting November 28
Wednesday - Sunday, 10 a.m - 5 p.m.

Choose-n-cut Christmas tress. Public restrooms and picnic area.

West on Highway 90 from Montrose to Dave Wood Rd., turn south to large stone and log. Entrance gate on right side of road.

Green Place Ranch, LLC
Olathe
(888) 786-3374 (call first)
E-mail: solar4u@starband.net
Web site: www.greenplaceranch.com

Year-round, except holidays
Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Christmas trees.

Hwy. 348 west, left on 55 DD Rd. to Fallion Rd. (right) to 54.25 Rd. DD (left). To BLM Rd. 3581 (up 5.8 miles to ranch entrance).

WELD COUNTY

Christmas Tree Acres
22911 WCR 39
La Salle, CO 80645
(970) 284-6061
E-mail: billjerke@aol.com

November 28 - December 21(Closed December 15 - December 19)
Weekends: 9 a.m. 5 p.m.Weekdays: 12 p.m - 5 p.m.

We provide saws, drinks, wreaths, stands, shaking and baling of trees.

Take Highway 85 to La Salle, turn east at stoplight, turn right onto Main Street, drive 1 miles south on Main Street to farm entrance.

Fern Hill Farm
2001 Fern Ave.
Greeley, CO 80631
(970) 352-4478
E-mail: cclift@what-wire.com

November 28 - December 22Tuesday - Sunday, 11 a.m. - dark

Hay rides, hot cider, cookies, gift shop, fire pit, wreaths (made with Colorado boughs).

On Highway 34 go 2.4 miles past the junction of Highway 85 and 34. Turn left on Business Route Highway 34, go 1/2 mile to East 24th St., turn right a short distance to Fern Ave., turn left 1/2 mile to farm.

Pope Farms Produce
6501 W. 28th St.
Greeley
(970) 590-9124
E-mail: popefarm@hotmail.com

April - December
9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Christmas trees.

On the corner of Hwy. 34 bypass and 65th Ave. in the soutwest part of Greeley.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Bee Ordinance Passes

FYI, a quick update:

Denver's City Council passed the bee ordinance to the zoning code on Monday night.

The zoning code now allows beehives and here are the specifics...2 hives per zone lot; hives must be in rear 1/3 of zone lot with a five foot setback from side and rear zone lot lines; the hives must be screened so that the bees must fly over a six foot barrier, which may be vegetative, before leaving the property; no outdoor storage of any bee paraphernalia or hive materials not being used as a part of a hive.

This zoning changes does not affect all zoning areas. It is specific to RS-4, R-0, R-1, R-2, R-2-A, R-2-B, R-3, R-3-X, R-4, R-4-X, R-MU-20, R-MU-30, MS-1, MS-2, MS-3 or R-X zone districts.

More later....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Save the Bees, Please

Last summer, when I took a break from Corporate America and the requisite nine-to-five, I spent every morning having coffee in the garden. And while I sat there, goofing off, I watched bees -- tireless, relentless, completely immersed in their buzziness.

It inspired the following, written for my grandsons:

"Behold the bumbling bumblebees
Drowsing among the flowers
Lining their pockets with pollen
For hours and hours and hours

They zig-zag about the garden
From daisy to hyssop to phlox
Rolling in poppy blossoms
And buzzing the hollyhocks

They tickle the morning glories
And dive-bomb through the broom
They even sample the broccoli
When it begins to bloom

They stay so buzz-buzz-busy!
They never stop for lunch
They never sit and linger
Over a morning brunch.

They keep their wings a-whirring
From sun-up to sun-down
Singing their busy-bee song
All… day… long!

I think I’d like a job like theirs –
where instead of working for money,
I spend the day in the garden
And then go home and make honey."

If you love having bees in your garden, take note. There's something you can do to protect and preserve this important resource in Denver.

On Monday, Nov. 17, the Denver City Council will consider an ordinance amendment to allow backyard beekeeping in the city. If you act quickly, you can support this initiative by sending an email to your city council member and the two at-large members, asking them to support the proposal.

You can find out who your city council person is checking out the map provided here. You can find a list of city council people with contact information here.

So, why would anyone want to promote bees in the city? Beekeeping in Denver will benefit the whole community, not just people who put a hive in their yard. My friend John, fellow writer and DUG Board member offers the following key points:

Urban beekeeping helps the bees
  • The honey bee is in danger. In the last few years, many beekeepers have reported losing over half of their bees each season. This epidemic, called colony collapse disorder, is believed to have many causes, possibly including viruses and parasites. But most experts agree that the use of bees in industrial agriculture has weakened their ability to cope with these threats. We depend on honey bees to pollinate a vast amount of our food, so their disappearance would have a devastating effect on our food security.
  • Small-scale local beekeeping is an excellent way to keep many bees in more natural and healthy conditions. Having many backyard hives full of healthy bees would improve their chances of survival.
  • With the wide variety of flowering plants in its gardens and parks, the urban environment may be even better for bees than rural areas, which are often dominated by monoculture and heavy pesticide use.

Backyard beekeeping will benefit many new beekeepers and existing gardeners

  • Honey is a healthier sweetener than refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. It's a whole food, full of micronutrients from the flowers it's made from. Many people believe local honey alleviates seasonal allergy symptoms because the local pollen it contains may help immunize the body. And like every other food, home-grown honey tastes much better than what you get at the store.
  • Having bees in a backyard or community garden improves pollination of flowering plants, including tomatoes, squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, beans and potatoes, as well as ornamental flowers. If you have a fruit tree in your yard, it's in your interest to have a healthy bee population in the city.
  • Beekeeping is fun, educational, and easy. Learning about the amazing honey bee is a great activity for kids and a fascinating connection to natural world for everyone. Traditional hive equipment can be expensive, but simple designs like the top-bar hive can be built with scrap lumber at very low cost.

Denver's 80+ community gardens would be especially good places for beehives.

  • Our community gardens would provide a large amount of diverse forage for the bees, who would improve pollination and increase yields.
  • Honey would be another source of good local food for community gardeners, enhancing their health and food security.

Backyard beekeeping is safe.

  • Honey bees are not aggressive. Most stings attributed to bees are actually wasps. Honey bees sting only to protect their colony or when they feel otherwise threatened. It is very rare for a bee to sting while out foraging. The proposed ordinance contains safeguards that are adequate to minimize accidental human-bee encounters and protect the small percentage of people who have a dangerous allergy to bee stings. Under the proposal, hives must be in the rear 1/3 of the lot, at least 5 feet from the side and rear property lines, with a fence or foliage barrier to make the bees fly up to a height of at least 6 feet before leaving the property.

Beekeeping is a natural part of the local eating and sustainable living movement.

  • Like gardening, small-scale beekeeping is a great way to diversify and localize the food system, which enhances everyone's food security.
  • Many major cities allow backyard beekeeping, including Chicago, Dallas, Boston, San Francisco and Portland. Chicago has beehives on the roof of its city hall. Here in Colorado, beekeeping is already allowed in many cities and towns, and the number is increasing. The town of Windsor recently adopted an ordinance similar to this one.

Denver is taking many steps toward improving environmental quality and sustainability in the city. Ensuring that Denver has a healthy population of honey bees is an important part of this effort. Let's get buzz-buzz-busy and vote to allow backyard beekeeping on November 17!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Grass fed beef redux -- order now!

Since looking into the benefits of grass-fed beef, I've become a believer. (See related posts on the benefits of grass-fed beef here, and information on finding producers here.)

If you're a Denverite, as I am, it can be hard to find grass-fed beef in grocery stores. But Sun Prairie Natural Beef offers grass-fed beef twice a year (Spring and Fall) and get this, they deliver. (See related post by clicking here.)

If you want to try an order this fall, it's not too late. Sun Prairie Natural Beef is taking orders through Oct. 31, for delivery November 1&2. You can get started by visiting their web site here.

They provide local, free-range, natural, 100% grass-fed beef to customers throughout the Front Range and eastern plains. Last spring, we ordered a 20# variety pack -- a sumptuous sampler of steaks, roasts, hamburgers and sausage, and we've been feasting on it ever since.

Pick up locations are listed below:

November 1
12:00PM - 12:45PM @ 46 W Bayaud Ave
1:15PM - 2:00PM @ Whole Foods (Tamarac Square)
2:30PM - 3:15PM @ Tattered Cover (Highlands Ranch)
3:45PM - 4:15PM @ The Fort Restaurant (Morrison)
4:45PM - 5:30PM @ Whole Foods (Colorado Mills)November 2
10:00PM - 10:45PM @ Tattered Cover (Colfax)
11:15PM - 12:00PM @ Sunflower Market (Highlands)
12:30PM - 1:15PM @ Dillards (Flatiron Crossing)
1:45PM - 2:30PM @ Target (Boulder)
3:15PM - 4:00PM @ Big Lots (Longmont)
5:30PM - 6:00PM @ Whole Foods (Fort Collins)

If you can't connect over the delivery weekend, they will UPS your order to you on September 3. For sales enquiries, you can email Keith at keith@sunprairiebeef.com or call 303-859-2280. For ranch visits contact Tom at 970 -848-3801.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

In Praise of Pumpkins!

Pumpkins!

Those strange and beautiful fruits. I try to imagine the first Neandrathal (or whomever/whatever) that stumbled across one. Whoa! What the hey!

Is it a spirit? A toy? Should I lug it home and place it on an altar? Should I sit on it, kick it around the room -- or could I -- can it be possible -- eat that thing?

Pumpkin History

According to the University of Illinois extension service, "references to pumpkins date back many centuries. The name pumpkin originated from the Greek word for "large melon" which is "pepon." "Pepon" was nasalized by the French into "pompon." The English changed "pompon" to "Pumpion." Shakespeare referred to the "pumpion" in his Merry Wives of Windsor. American colonists changed "pumpion" into "pumpkin." The "pumpkin" is referred to in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater and Cinderella."

Native Americans dried strips of pumpkin and wove them into mats. They also roasted long strips of pumpkin on the open fire and ate them. The origin of pumpkin pie occurred when the colonists sliced off the pumpkin top, removed the seeds, and filled the insides with milk, spices and honey. The pumpkin was then baked in hot ashes.

Mmmm.

Pumpkin Facts

Here are some interesting factoids about pumpkins, compliments of the History Channel:
  • Pumpkins are fruits. A pumpkin is a type of squash and is a member of the gourd family (Cucurbitacae), which also includes squash, cucumbers, gherkins, and melons.

  • The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds.

  • Pumpkins have been grown in North America for five thousand years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere.

  • In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding "gros melons." The name was translated into English as "pompions," which has since evolved into the modern "pumpkin."

  • Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.

  • The largest pumpkin ever grown was 1,689 pounds. It was grown by Joe Jutras of North Scituate, Rhode Island. My husband, J., grows pumpkins for our grandsons every year -- but his record is only 60 pounds. Quite a respectable pumpkin, I might add.

  • Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.
Jack O' Lanterns

The History Channel also offers the following history of Jack O' Lanterns:

"The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul.

"The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

"Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved-out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."


"In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States."

Want a really scary Jack O' Lantern this year? Check this out:

You can find a pattern by clicking here.

Local Pumpkins Patches

This promises to be a perfect weekend for picking pumpkins. Here's a list of pumpkin patches in the front range area:

Adams County

Berry Patch Farms - Brighton
303-659-5050
www.berrypatchfarms.com

Crazed Corn Field Maze and Colorado Pumpkin Patch- Thornton
303-913-5947 (Hotline)
www.crazedcornfieldmaze.com

Hill's Harvest – Thornton
303-451-5637
www.hillsharvest.com

May Farms Corn Maze & Pumpkin Patch – Byers
303-822-5800
www.mayfarms.com

Mazzotti Farms – Hudson
303-536-4089
www.mazzottifarms.com

Palombo Farms Market Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze - Henderson
303- 287-0134

Strasburg Farmers' Market
303-622-6433

Boulder County

Burch Maze - Longmont
303-772-1350
www.burchmaze.com

Cottonwood Farm – Boulder
720-890-4766
www.cottonwoodfarms.com

Munson Farms - Boulder
303-442-5333
www.munsonfarms.com

Rock Creek Farm U-Pick-em Pumpkin Patch - Broomfield.
303-465-9565
www.rockcreekfarm.com

Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch – Longmont
303-684-0087
www.rockymtpumpkinranch.com

Arapahoe County

Bellflower Farms – Littleton
303-738-9788
www.bellflowerfarms.net

May Farms Event Center – Byers
303-822-5800
www.mayfarms.com

Broomfield County

Rock Creek Farm - Broomfield
303- 465-9565
www.rockcreekfarm.com

Elbert County

Coastalfields Pumpkin Patch - Agate
720- 207-3642
www.coastalfields.com

Fremont County

Diana's Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze – Canon City
719-821-9133
www.dianaspumpkinpatch.com

Ferrara's Happy Apple Farm - Penrose
719-372-6300
www.happyapplefarm.com

Third Street Apples - Penrose
719- 372-6283
Larimer County

Harvest Farm – Wellington
970-568-9803
www.harvestfarm.net

Pope Farms Produce & Pumpkin Patch - Loveland
970-593-1255

The Pumpkin Patch – Fort Collins
970-493-3853 (call first)
www.thebartelsfarm.com

Something From the Farm – Fort Collins
970-219-8562
www.somethingfgromthefarm.com

Pueblo County

Pantaleo Farms & Produce - Pueblo
719-948-4556 (call first)
www.pantaleofarms.com or www.pueblochilico.com

Weld County

Anderson Farms - Erie
303-828-5210
www.andersonfarms.com

Fritzler’s Pumpkin Patch – La Salle
970-737-2141
www.fritzlermaze.com

Miller Farms Corn Maze – Platteville
970-785-6133 or 970-785-2681
www.millerfarms.net

Tigges Farms - Greeley
970-576-8970

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bring Back the Victory Garden

History tells us that in times of crisis, Americans have sought solace in gardening. Crises seem to inspire us to return to our agrarian roots and embrace traditional values of self-reliance, community and service.

I don’t know about you, but this feels like a crisis to me.

In the midst of an economic meltdown of historic proportions, we're learning the limits of a fundamentalist approach to capitalism. Our government has been preaching free markets, deregulation and privatization of services, with active intrusion into other countries/cultures to proselytize a global free-market economy. Unfortunately, this approach has sparked our currrent crisis, by promoting higher profits and an ever-higher standard of living over more important values of commmunity and sustainability.

Now, the government is scrambling to stem the tide, asking for carte-blanche authority to throw hundreds of billions of dollars at the proverbial barn door, with no guarantee that it will stick. That’s hundreds of billions of dollars that won’t be going to fund education, infrastructure or R&D. It’s more money out of our pockets, at a time when gas and food prices are sky-rocketing, unemployment is rising, people’s home values have cratered and all of our savings, investments and retirements are at risk. Is it, as they say, inevitable? Will it fix the problem?

I’ve been glued to the television, with the same dumb-struck inertia that I felt after 9-11 – watching pundits debate causes, impacts and potential solutions to this crisis while harboring an icy fear for our collective future. As with 9-11 – despite the fact that my psyche contracted every time I watched images of those planes crashing into the towers and the towers coming down and now contracts with each punch and jab of the current debate -- I feel paralyzed. I don’t know what to do, and I can’t stop watching.

Enough, I say, with others out there. Enough is enough!

It’s time for us to tear ourselves away.

We may not be able to solve the entire global, economic crises -- but we can find ways to challenge the prevailing "Chicago-School of Economics" model and be productive. And we can start in our own back yards. Milton Friedman himself said, “…only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around.”

So here’s an idea that’s been lying around for a long time: let's bring back the Victory Garden.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, citizens stepped up. In 1942, the non-profit National Victory Garden Institute was formed to promote victory gardens and provide educational and technical support, and the response was overwhelming. By 1943, American citizens had planted more than 20 million Victory Gardens, producing 8 million tons of food and over 50 percent of all the fresh vegetables consumed in the U.S.

It was not a new idea, even then. Since the late 1800s, we’ve responded to crises by establishing and nurturing backyard, community and urban gardens. These gardens have helped us survive economic depressions and recessions; they’ve sustained us through two World Wars; they've persisted despite the rise of industrialization and the shift in our population away from rural communities and into urban areas; and they’ve sustained important American ideals.

Today, gardening has the potential to address a number of the challenges we face. It provides affordable access to safe, healthy and nutritious foods; it delivers significant health and economic benefits; it promotes sustainability; it supports community development and enlightened self-government; and it delivers these benefits affordably and cost effectively.

The popularity of gardening attests to its benefits to individual gardeners, including increased physical activity and related health and mental health benefits. Gardening has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic ailments, cut the risk of osteoporosis in women, reduce asthma in children, improve productivity in office workers, accelerate recovery in post-operative patients, and create a mental state with brain wave patterns similar to those achieved in meditation. Recently, exposure to a common soil bacterium was found to stimulate immune systems and increased serotonin levels in the brain.

Gardens also make healthy, nutritious food affordable. A 64 square foot plot can save a family up to $600 in food purchases per year. Research tells us that when comparing the value of food produced to the material cost of production, the return on investment is approximately 20 to one.

Fresh food is healthy food. Due to the degradation of foods in storage and transport, garden fruits and vegetables can have as much as twice the vitamins available from supermarket produce at the same price. Moreover, people who participate in gardens tend to eat more fresh vegetables than those who do not. Ohri-Vachaspati (1999) reported that gardeners consumed nearly twice as many servings of fruits and vegetables as non-gardeners, and of the gardeners surveyed, more than 70 percent consumed at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day; 74 percent preserved produce from the garden (by freezing, canning, drying, etc.) and 95 percent shared produce with others.

Gardens also promote improved food safety and security. Nearly every day, news headlines warn us of a new food scare: pesticides in apples; E. coli in beef patties, spinach and bagged lettuce; toxic chemicals in infant formula; the list goes on and on. People who raise their own food have more control over how it’s raised and what goes into it. Those who choose to garden organically can reap significant nutritional benefits as well. Studies have shown that organic food contains greater amounts of essential minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. A recently completed study by the European Union – the largest study of its kind, covering four years and costing approximately $25 million – confirmed that organic fruit and vegetables contain up to 40 percent more antioxidants, including flavenoids; organic produce has higher levels of beneficial minerals like iron and zinc; and milk from organic herds contains up to 90 percent more antioxidants.

Organic gardening also helps the environment. Based on 23 years of field studies on organic farming practices, The Rodale Institute reports that organic soils can offset CO2 emissions by capturing atmospheric CO2 and converting it into soil material. The studies document an average increase in soil carbon of about 1,000 pounds per acre-foot of soil, or about 3,500 pounds of CO2 per acre-foot per year. If we all worked together to improve the soil health of our yards and gardens, we could make a significant dent in our collective carbon footprint.

Finally, some of the most potent benefits of gardening are the hardest to quantify. Gardens provide a venue for relearning important values related to self reliance, delayed gratification, cooperation with natural processes and community stewardship. Anyone can plant a garden – whether it’s in a container garden on a fire escape outside an apartment window, a strip of land in the backyard or vacant lot in the neighborhood. We can take back power from the government, agribusiness, and Wall Street -- and begin again to care for ourselves and others.

Gardening puts us into a direct relationship with earth. It reminds us of the mysterious cycles that govern birth, growth, production, death and renewal -- and it reinforces the notion that, despite our wishes and fantasies to the contrary, we are part of -- and not above -- these mysteries. Anyone who studies photosynthesis has got to revere the elegance and complexity of the interdependence of nature's processes; it's enough to knock your socks off. Above all, gardening teaches us that we must nurture what we care for and protect what we depend on – i.e., clean air, clean water, temperate climate, healthy soil, microorganisms, insects, and the whole ecological chain.

Gardening can also put us in direct relationship with others. It’s a common activity that often serves as a catalyst for community, as gardeners in a given neighborhood connect over fences and alleyways to share questions, expertise, tools, seeds, and harvests. (Zucchini, anyone? Anyone? Please?)

Working with others to create a community garden provides the opportunity to practice communication and cooperation with a group of diverse, albeit like-minded, people. This not only strengthens community; it also can – and often does -- serve as a springboard to community development and participatory democracy, at a very local level.

It may not be a total solution, but it's a start.

As Michael Pollan says, “Measured against the Problems We Face, planting a garden sounds pretty benign… but it fact, it’s one of the most powerful things an individual can do – to reduce our carbon footprint, sure, but more important to reduce our sense of dependence and dividedness.”

So I say, let's bring back the Victory Garden.

Let's tear ourselves away from the TV and the financial pages. Let's get out there and get our hands dirty.

It’s time to plant the seeds of change.

Monday, September 8, 2008

September Events

Now thru Nov. 24
Miller Farms Annual Fall Harvest Festival
9 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily
www.millerfarms.net
Contact: (970) 785-6133

Sept. 6-12
Harvest Week
Denver Independent Network of Restaurants-various locations
www.harvestweek.com
Contact: Wendy White, (303) 239-4119

Saturday, Sept. 13
Colorado Cattle Crawl
Contact: Kari Jensen, (303) 264-3005
Wynkoop Brewery, Denver & Ameristar Casino, Black Hawk
Tickets: $100/person or $175/couple, includes food and transportation
www.acfcoloradochefs.org

Sunday, Sept. 14
Whole Foods Market’s 2nd Annual Farmers and Food Artisan’s Road Tour
An opportunity to meet the famed food producers and learn the behind the scenes story first hand as vendors sample and sell their products. During the event, proceeds from the purchase of prepared lunches will be contributed to local non-profits.
Colorado Blvd, 870 S. Colorado Blvd., Glendale
303.691.0101

Sept. 19-21
Colorado Mountain Wine Fest
Riverbend Park, Palisade
Tickets: $40 in advance
www.coloradowinefest.com

Saturday, Sept. 20
Whole Foods Market’s 2nd Annual Farmers and Food Artisan’s Road Tour
An opportunity to meet the famed food producers and learn the behind the scenes story first hand as vendors sample and sell their products. During the event, proceeds from the purchase of prepared lunches will be contributed to local non-profits.
Belmar, 444 S. Wadsworth Blvd, Lakewood
303.935.5000

September 20-21
Rocky Mountain Sustainable Living Fair
Fort Collins, CO
$5/day, Kids under 12 free
http://sustainablelivingassociation.org/thefair/

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Global Scramble to Own Food and Agricultural Assets

Greetings everyone.

I am posting this via a wireless Internet connection from the road as we drive across Kansas on our way home from vacation in Michigan. For the last three days, we've been driving past acres and acres of pasture, orchards and farmlands -- and it got me to wondering -- who owns our farmland? In the race to globalization, foreign investors are buying up our companies, resort properties and commodities -- are they buying our farmland, too?

We'll investigate who's buying farmland in Colorado; in the meantime, the following essay on the race to own global agricultural assets introduces the topic, and is reprinted here by permission fromTouch the Soil Magazine. For more information visit: www.touchthesoil.com.

The Global Scramble to Own Food and Agricultural Assets

By: Benjamin Gisin

Benjamin Gisin has visited hundreds of farms in his banking, farm consulting and publishing careers. He writes and lectures extensively on the global and domestic food situation, the promise of local food first and grass-roots economic issues.

Since the formation of the World Trade Organization in 1995, the U. S. Government has abandoned the maintenance of food stocks in favor of leaving things to free market forces. Yet neither the WTO or the free markets have any financial incentive or direct public mandate to maintain food stocks or food security.

While little is happening here at home relative to government or private sector intervention into food security issues, this is not the case with nations who appear to view things differently.
Actions that closed or limited food exports by the world’s largest wheat and rice exporting nations are just now being lifted. Nations, whose political stability almost collapsed from an inability to import enough food (due to availability and price), drew the attention of every other nation that depends upon food imports or whose domestic economies were invaded by high global food prices. Now, in the immediate aftermath, one of the largest food and agricultural asset scrambles in history is unfolding.

As new crops from the 2008 farming season enter the markets, alleviating some of the immediate supply and price stresses, there are concerns we are cutting it too close. The four largest global crops by tonnage are soybeans, rice, wheat and corn. The USDA projects these four crops to yield 2,129 million metric tons of food for 2008. Out of this, projected consumption is 2,116 million metric tons leaving a paltry 13 million metric-ton margin. This is only a .7 percent margin before already stressed stocks must be further drawn down to meet the global demand for food — a demand artificially trimmed by some 900 million people without financial resources to move out of starvation diets.

On the heels of this tight crop production report and the recent memory of individual nations experiencing food disruptions, there is a scramble to control or own agricultural assets and food stocks.

The nations of Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, are bringing money, soil scientists and equipment to farm large-scale tracts in Sudan. Arab nations, with limited arable land, must assure access to food — even if it is in Sudan where local starvation is rampant in the Darfur area.

The governments of China and India are supporting efforts for domestic companies to own land in Africa and South America to raise food earmarked for their nations.

The Chinese government has already purchased 26 million metric tons of wheat from its own farmers with the goal of acquiring a total in excess of 30 million metric tons. This is equal to the entire U.S. domestic wheat consumption for one year. The Chinese government will sell this wheat domestically at lower prices to control food inflation and protect itself from western-style commodity speculators that influence global prices.

China recently passed legislation prohibiting the further development of its core agricultural lands. Adding punitive measures to its laws, government officials are being held personally responsible for overseeing farmland protection in the various agricultural regions.

Saudi Arabia is setting up a $566 million holding company to invest in agriculture overseas to ensure food comes from these investments back to Saudi Arabia. The goal, in part, is to circumvent global free markets that sent several neighboring nations into food chaos.

South Korea is headed to Indonesia to clear land for corn production and long-term leases on other land. South Korea is trying to purchase a U.S. owned hay company with sufficient agricultural assets to raise 10 percent of South Korea’s annual hay needs.

Several undisclosed global corporations recently purchased $100 million in agricultural land assets in Australia to control access to food crops.

Marubeni Corp. a Japanese company, recently purchased eight grain-storage facilities and two warehouses for $48 million in the United States. The goal is to buy corn and soybeans directly from U.S. farmers, circumventing global food corporations.

Venezuela just passed legislation requiring the government to hold reserves of key food crops and guarantee 90 days-worth of food consumption is held domestically. Major government intervention is planned to stimulate domestic food production.

While this list of actions to control food and agricultural assets is by no means complete, it illustrates what is going on as nation after nation tries to control the agricultural assets needed for food security. ■

Shouldn't we in Colorado and the U.S. be thinking about this, too?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

In Praise of Corn

I've spent a some time (and a couple of posts) vilifying corn. (See: Is Too Much Corn Making Us Fat and The Great Corn vs. Grass Debate.) But here it is, corn season, and a recent trek to the Pearl Street Farmer's Market highlighted the plus side of the debate.

We found some fabulous homemade corn tortillas:

They're sold by Paz Distributors, who offer homemade salsa, tamales, tortillas and burritos. In business for six years, these folks sell their goods at the Cherry Creek Farmer's market (Wednesdays and Saturdays), and the Pearl Street and Stapleton Farmer's Markets on Sundays. They'll make you a tasty burrito or tamale right on the spot, or you can take their tortillas home. (They freeze well, too.)
We like to use them with whatever veggies we have on hand. This week it was shredded zucchini, onions, garlic, red peppers and cilantro, sauteed in olive oil and seasoned with coriander. We pile the veggies on the tortilla, melt some cheese on top and serve them with fresh tomato salsa seasoned with cumin and (you guessed it) fresh corn.

We're talkin' corn heaven! No HFCS here; this is what corn should be.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Upcoming Events, Etc.

Finally, a rainy day.

If you're like me, you've spent the summer planting, weeding, deadheading, weeding, harvesting, weeding, cooking, weeding, preserving, weeding, composting and then.....weeding some more. Every now and then -- like 40-50 hours a week -- I also go to work. Doesn't leave much time for blogging, I'm afraid.

The key thing I've discovered about gardening is that everything grows. (Now there's a revelation!) But, truly....I always start the season with intense energy and enthusiasm and by July, I'm out there with a machete, cutting everything back before it takes over the neighborhood....thinking why in the world did I plant so many squash plants? Have I learned nothing?

For a truly entertaining bit on the zucchini, you should visit my friend John Hershey's website by clicking here; he speaks for gardeners everywhere.

Ah, but I digress.....

I'm happy to have a rainy day because I can't weed today. I can, instead, promote these cool events. If you'd like a yummy introduction to local foods, here are some events to get you started:

Sunday, Aug. 24, 5:30 p.m. to…..
Local Feast at The Kitchen (Upstairs)
1039 Pearl Street, Boulder

Celebrate local food with a special three-course dinner prepared by the chefs at the renowned Kitchen Cafe in Boulder. Taste local food at its best and sip a variety of Colorado wines and local brews. Co-sponsored by Bauman College, Edible Front Range, Boulder County Farmers' Markets, The Kitchen and Boulder County Going Local.

$39 per person; reservations required. Call 303-444-2975 to make yours now!

September 6 - 12, 2008
Harvest Week Denver
presented by the Denver Independent Network of Restaurants (DINR) and participating Denver restaurants

Join in a weeklong celebration of Colorado's exceptional products and produce. Each of DINR's almost 40 restaurants will create a menu that features food and/or beverages produced in Colorado. Support our local farmers, growers and producers as well as your favorite independent restaurants and check out Harvest Week. For more information and to preview all of the Harvest Week menus, visit www.eatdenver.com.

Tuesday, September 9, (Abbondanza Farm)
Monday, October 6 (Cure Organic Farm)
Farmer's Dinners at Duo Restaurant
2413 W. 32nd Ave (at Zuni) Denver

Chef John Broening will prepare a four course meal with organic produce picked from the evening's spotlighted farm. The farmers will be speaking about the food and farming in Colorado. Four courses cost $45; menus TBA and subject to change depending on what is ready for harvest! For reservations call 303.477.4141 or visit http://www.duodenver.com/reservations.html

Friday October 3, 2008 – 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Mountain Bushels and Bottles - A Seasonal Celebration of Local Flavor
Hosted by Cook Street School of Fine Cooking and Slow Food Denver
Cook Street School of Fine Cooking
1937 Market Street, Denver 80202

Calling all local foodies! Join Slow Food Denver and Cook Street School of Fine Cooking on Friday October 3rd for our first annual Rocky Mountain Bushels and Bottles - A Seasonal Celebration of Regional Flavor. Cook Street chefs will prepare and showcase seasonal products from some of Colorado's finest local food producers. Attendees will sample seasonally inspired small plates paired with local wine and beer while perusing an outdoor farmers market on the Cook Street Patio. Hear from local food producers and meet Cook Street School of Fine Cooking's talented chefs. Don't miss this fabulous event benefiting Slow Food Denver. Cost: $65/person. Register online at http://www.cookstreet.com/news_and_events_rec.php

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cool Video on Farmer's Markets

As long as we're talking Farmer's Markets, check out this You Tube video. It addresses how farmers' markets improve communities, support farmers and increase access to fresh, nutritious food in cities.

Philanthromedia, a group that produces interactive content for donors and foundations, created it -- and it can be found on YouTube or on Philanthromedia's own site.

If neither of the embedded links above work with your browser, you can copy and paste the following URL to view the video.

http://www.philanthromedia.org/archives/2008/06/videofarmers_markets_build_com.html.

Enjoy!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Stock Up for the Fourth at the Telluride Farmer's Market

Looking for veggies to throw on that fourth of July BBQ grill? The Telluride Farmer's market is holding forth one day early this week so people can stock up. Their producers are all organic, all local, and represent a food shed of 200 miles.

Thurday July 3rd, 11:30-4:00
Telluride Farmers' Market
S. Oak St. in Telluride below Elks Park across from the county courthouse

Enjoy!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

In Praise of Farmers' Markets, Etc.

So here we are in the full blush of summer...

I am adjusting to my new job and starting to catch up on everything else -- with all the vegetable gardens planted, the flower beds in reasonably good shape, and lettuce, chard, spinach, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and fresh herbs coming on. And to top it off, we have sweet cherries in the mini orchard in our community garden. Is there a better time of year?

In the general category of "catching up," I spent a few hours yesterday volunteering as a Master Gardener (MG) Apprentice at the MG booth at the Cherry Creek Farmer's market, and I was reminded of all the reasons we love them!

First, you can buy some incredibly fresh produce. I splurged on a basket of huge cherry tomatoes -- big as plums -- grown in a hothouse on a farm in Fort Lupton -- and some fresh corn and cilantro. Friends of mine bought fresh-baked bread and home-made corn tortillas (fabulous when layered with grilled garlic, onions, poblano peppers and melted cheese.) I wish I had taken pictures.

Second, you meet such wonderful people. There was a young man in the booth next to us, an apprentice cook with Johnston Wales, selling seasoned salmon, dips and other yummy items. He couldn't do enough for us -- jumped up to help us set up; tied down our tent corners to his weights; was generally amazingly helpful. He is young, entreprenurial, hopeful -- starting his own business and launching his wares -- and a genuinely nice man. I wish I had gotten the name of his business.

Third, farmers' markets are an extreme people-watching opportunity. When we weren't answering questions about powdery mildew, acid-loving plants, pruning lilacs and other fascinating topics, we were noticing how -- over time -- couples come to resemble one another, like matched sets of salt and pepper shakers. Again, I wish I had taken pictures.

Fortunately, in an effort to knock down the 50 hours of volunteer time I need to relinquish my apprentice status and become a real Master Gardener, I'll be hanging out at the Farmer's Market for the next few weeks. My plan is to take my camera and spend some time talking to producers -- and then introducing them to you.

So stay tuned. In the meantime, if you'd like to visit a farmer's market on your own, here's a list of Colorado farmer's markets, compliments of the Colorado Department of Agriculture:

Monday

Colorado SpringsMemorial Park, (Union Blvd. & Pikes Peak Ave.)
7 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 19 - Oct. 2
E-mail: franklinhschmidt@peoplepc.com

Denver Tamarac Shopping Center (Tamarac & Hampden)
11 a.m. - 3 p.m., June 23 - September
Farmers' Market Hotline: (303) 887-Farm
Web site: http://www.denverfarmersmarket.com/

Tuesday
Aurora (333 Havana St. , in parking lot)
11 a.m. - 3 p.m., June 24 - Oct. 28
Farmers' Market Hotline: (303) 887-Farm
Web site: http://www.denverfarmersmarket.com/

Evergreen, The Bergan Village Shopping Center
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 3 - Oct. 7

Fountain, 116 S. Main St. (City Hall Plaza)
3 p.m. - 7 p.m., June 17 - early Oct.

Glenwood Springs, Centennial Park (9th and Grand Ave.)
4 p.m. - dusk
June 17 - Sept. 23
E-mail: cindy@glenwoodmarket.com
Web site: http://www.glenwoodmarket.com/

Loveland, In front of Hobby Lobby
11 a.m. - 3 p.m., May - Oct.
E-mail: fcfm2008@wildblue.net
Web site: www.fortnet.org/market

Pueblo, 4th St. and Midtown
7 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., July 8 - Oct.

Wednesday

Boulder, 13th St. between Canyon Blvd. & Arapahoe Ave.
4 p.m. - 8 p.m., May 7- Oct. 1
E-mail: manager@boulderfarmers.org
Web site: http://www.boulderfarmers.org/

CaƱon City, Veteran's Park
7 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 4 - Oct. 1
E-mail: stultzranch@earthlink.net

Carbondale, 4th and Main
10 a.m. - 3 p.m., June 11 - Oct. 1
E-mail: highwireranch@hotmail.com

Colorado Springs, America the Beautiful Park (Cimino Dr., south of Colorado Ave.)
3 p.m. - 7 p.m., June 11 - Oct. 8
E-mail: info@farmandartmarket.com
Web site: http://www.farmandartmarket.com/

Denver, Cherry Creek N. Dr. & University (next to Bed, Bath & Beyond)
9 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 4 - Sept. 24
Web site: http://www.coloradofreshmarkets.com/

Denver, Civic Center Park (Broadway & 14th Ave.)
11 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 11 - Sept. 26
E-mail: simmons03@att.net
Web site: http://www.laughingdogfarms.net/

Fort Collins, Harmony Market Pl. (Harmony & Lemay)
11 a.m. - 3 p.m., mid June - Oct.
E-mail: fcfm2008@wildblue.net
Web site: www.fortnet.org/market

Grand Junction, Teller Arms Shopping Center
7 a.m. - 12 p.m. May 21 - Nov. 5

Greeley, 902 7th Ave.
3 p.m. - 6 p.m., July 2 - Oct. 1
Web site: www.greeleygov.com/fm

Littleton, 7301 S. Sante Fe (in parking lot)
11 a.m. - 3 p.m., June 18 - Oct. 29
Farmers' Market Hotline: (303) 887-Farm
Web site: http://www.denverfarmersmarket.com/

Manitou Springs, Soda Springs Park
4 p.m. - 6 p.m., June 11 - Aug. 27
E-mail: kitty@clemens.com
Web site: http://www.80829.com/

Montrose, Centennial Plaza
8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., Mid July - Sept.
E-mail: frances_mb44@hotmail.com

Telluride, Gondola Plaza in the center of Mountain Village
2 p.m. - 7 p.m., Mid July - Mid Sept.
E-mail: telluridefarmersmarekt@gmail.com

Thursday

Aurora, Smoky Hill & E470 (Southland's Retail Center)
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 5 - Aug.
E-mail: simmons03@att.net
Web site: http://www.laughingdogfarms.net/

Colorado Springs, Memorial Park, Union Blvd. & Pikes Peak Ave.
7 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 23- Oct. 6
E-mail: franklinhschmidt@peoplepc.com

Craig, 543 Yampa Ave. (west side of street in Alice Pleasant Park)
3 p.m. - 6 p.m., June 5 - Oct. 18
E-mail: downtown.books@hotmail.com

Estes Park, 1209 Manford Ave. (Stanley Fairgrounds)
8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., June 5 - Sept. 25
E-mail: kvdennis@nunntelwb.com

Florence, Pioneer Park
7 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 19 - Sept. 25

Grand Junction, Main St.
5 p.m. - 8:30 p.m., June 12 - Sept. 18

Mancos, 117 N. Main (Boyle Park)
5 p.m. - 7 p.m., June 26 - Sept. 11
E-mail: skimball@mancoscolorado.com
Web site: http://www.mancoscolorado.com/

Wheat Ridge, 4260 Wadsworth Blvd.
11 a.m. - 3 p.m., June 19
Farmers' Market Hotline: (303) 887-Farm
Web site: http://www.denverfarmersmarket.com/

Friday

Denver, I-76 & 88th
7 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 1 - October
E-mail: simmons03@att.net
Web site: http://www.laughingdogfarms.net/

Dillon, Buffalo St.
9 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 13 - Sept. 5 (no markets July 4 or Aug. 8)
E-mail: CBenefiel@townofdillon.com

Granby, 365 E. Agate Ave. (south side of Agate Ave. between 3rd & 4th St.)
3 p.m. - 7 p.m., June 6 - Oct. 3 & 4
E-mail: grcoc@rkymtnhi.com
Web site: http://www.granbychamber.com/

Johnstown, Downtown on S. Parish St.
4 p.m. - 8 p.m., July 25 - Sept. 12

Monte Vista, Fullenweider Park on 1st Ave.
8 a.m. - 5 p.m., June 1 - Aug. 31
E-mail: t3stooges@msn.com
Web site: http://www.cityofmontevista.com/

Pagosa Springs, Located on Hwy. 160 in the center of town.
4 p.m. - 7 p.m., June 27 - Sept. 26
E-mail: director@pagosachamber.com
Web site: http://www.pagosaspringschamber.com/

Pueblo, 4th St. and Midtown
7 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., July 8 - Oct.

Rifle, Railroad Ave. & East 2nd St.
4 p.m. - 8 p.m., June 13 - Sept. 26

South Fork Visitor's Center, intersection of Highways 160 and 149
8 a.m.- 12 p.m., July 4 - August 29\
E-mail: ardean@southforkfarmersmarket.org
Web site:http://www.southforkfarmersmarket.org/

Telluride, S. Oak St. in Telluride below Elks Park across from the county courthouse
11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m., June 13 - Oct. 17
E-mail: telluridefarmersmarket@gmail.com

Woodland Park, Corner of Center and Henrietta
7 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 13 - Sept. 26

Saturday

Alamosa, Parking lot at State & Main
7 a.m. - 2 p.m., July 12 - Oct. 13
E-mail: tawney1@earthlink.net
Web site: http://www.alamosa.org/

Aspen, Hopkins and Hunter Streets
8 a.m. - 3 p.m., June 14 - Oct. 18

Aurora, Smoky Hill & E470 (Southlands Retail Center)
9 a.m. - 2 p.m., May 17 - Oct. 18
E-mail: simmons03@att.net
Web site: http://www.laughingdogfarms.net/

Brighton, Downtown at North 1st & Strong St.
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 21 - Sept. 27
E-mail: downtown@brightonco.gov
Web site: http://www.brightonco.gov/

Boulder, 13th St. between Canyon Blvd. & Arapahoe Ave.
8 a.m. - 2 p.m., April 5 - Nov. 1
E-mail: bfm-manager@boulderfarmers.org
Web site: http://www.boulderfarmers.org/

Castle Pines, Castle Pines Parkway
8 a.m. - 1 p.m., every 3rd Saturday of each month
E-mail: simmons03@att.net
Web site: http://www.laughingdogfarms.net/

Castle Rock, SW corner of the Castle Rock Shopping Center
8 a.m. - 12 p.m., July 12 - Oct. 4
E-mail: dcsue@douglas.co.us

Colorado Springs, 24th St. & W. Colorado Ave.
7:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m., June 7- Oct. 25
E-mail: franklinhschmidt@peoplepc.com

Colorado Springs, 4515 Barnes Rd.
7 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 28 - Sept. 27
E-mail: franklinhschmidt@peoplepc.com

Colorado Springs, 7350 Pine Creek Rd. (at the Margarita at Pine Creek)
9 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 14 - Oct. 11
E-mail: info@farmandartmarket.com
Web site: http://www.farmandartmarket.com/

Cortez, 109 W. Main (Hwy. 160)
7:30 a.m. - sellout, June 7 - Oct.11
E-mail: Tom.Hooten@colostate.edu
Web site: http://www.cortezfarmmarket.com/

Denver, I-76 & 88th
7 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 1 - October
E-mail: simmons03@att.net
Web site: http://www.laughingdogfarms.net/

Denver, Cherry Creek N. Dr. & University (next to Bed, Bath & Beyond)
8 a.m. - 1 p.m., May 3 - Oct. 25
Web site: http://www.coloradofreshmarkets.com/

Durango, 1st National Bank parking lot
8 a.m. - 12 p.m., May 17 - Oct. 25

Edwards, Edwards Corner (across from Riverwalk)
9:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., June 14 - Sept. 13
E-mail: edwards@rockymountainmarkets.com

Fort Collins, 802 W. Drake
10 a.m. - 1 p.m., April 19 - Sept. 27
Email: manager@drakeroadfarmersmarket.com
Web site: http://www.drakeroadfarmersmarket.com/

Fort Collins,
Corner of Howes and Olive
8 a.m. - 12 p.m., July 12 - Oct. 11
E-mail: astoven@larimer.org
Web site: www.larimer.org/ext

Fruita, 325 E. Aspen Ave.
8 a.m. - 1 p.m., Mid June - End of Oct.

Grand Junction, Teller Arms Shopping Center
7 a.m. - 12 p.m. May 21 - Nov. 5

Golden, 10th and Illinois (next to the Golden Library)
8 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 7 - Oct. 4
E-mail: Deborah.r@earthlink.net or info@goldencochamber.org

Greeley, 902 7th Ave.
7:30 a.m. - 11 a.m., May 17 - Oct. 25
Web site: www.greeleygov.com/fm

Gunnison, N. Main & E. Virginia
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 28 - Oct. 11
E-mail: director@gfm-online.org
Web site: http://www.gfm-online.org/

Littleton, Southwest Plaza (Bowles & Wadsworth)
8 a.m. - 2 p.m., May 3 - Oct. 25
Farmers' Market Hotline: (303) 887-Farm
Web site: http://www.denverfarmersmarket.com/

Lone Tree, Lone Tree Entertainment District (across from Brunswick Zone)
9 a.m. 1 p.m., May 31 - Oct. 11
E-mail: simmons03@att.net
Web site: http://www.laughingdogfarms.net/

Longmont, North lot of Longmont Fairgrounds
8 a.m. - 1 p.m., May 3 - Oct. 25
E-mail: cindy@boulderfarmers.org
Web site: http://www.longmontfarmers.com/

Minturn, Historic Downtown
9 a.m. - 2:15 p.m., June 14 - Sept. 6
E-mail: market@minturn.org
Web site: http://www.minturn.org/ and http://www.minturnmarket.org/

Montrose, Centennial Plaza
8:30 a.m. - 1 p.m., May - Oct.
E-mail: frances_mb44@hotmail.com

Monument, 481 Hwy. 105 (directly behind Radio Shack)
7 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 7 - Oct. 11

Norwood, 1120 Summit St.
8 a.m. - 12 p.m., June 7 - Sept. 20

Salida, Alpine Park
8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., June 21 - Oct. 11

Steamboat Springs, Lincoln Ave. on 6th St. next to the Courthouse
8 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 14 - August 30
E-mail: mainstreetsteamboat@comcast.net
Web site: http://www.mainstreetsteamboatsprings.com/

Strasburg, 56551 E. Colfax
8 a.m. - 12 p.m., May 24 - Oct. 18
Oct. 18 (pumpkin patch)
E-mail: brendac2@netecin.net

Trinidad, Main Street (between Convent & Beech)
8 a.m. - 12 p.m., mid July - mid October
E-mail: tcpotter@amigo.net

Sunday

Boulder, 29th Street Mall
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., starting June 15
Web site: www.thefruitstand.net/mf_details.html

Denver, I-76 & 88th
7 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 1 - October
E-mail: simmons03@att.net
Web site: http://www.laughingdogfarms.net/

Denver, 1500 blk. of S. Pearl (between Florida & Iowa)
9 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 8 - Oct. 26
E-mail: nicolejarman@gmail.com
Web site: http://www.oldsouthpearlstreet.com/

Denver, Sullivan Fountain at Colfax and City Park (across from the Tattered Cover)
9 a.m. - 1 p.m., June 1 - Oct. 26
Web site: http://www.coloradofreshmarkets.com/

Denver, E. 29th Ave. & Roslyn St. (Stapleton's Founders' Green)
8:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., June 15 - Sept. 28
Web site: http://www.coloradofreshmarkets.com/

Crested Butte, 100 Block of Elk Ave.
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 22 - Oct. 19
E-mail: powderfarmer@gmail.com
Web site: http://cbfarmersmarket.org/

Fort Collins, Harmony Market Pl. (corner of Harmony & Lemay)
11 a.m. - 3 p.m., May - Oct.
E-mail: fcfm2008@wildblue.net
Web site is www.fortnet.org/market

Highlands Ranch Town Center, Highlands Ranch Parkway (between Lucent & Broadway)
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., May 4 - Oct. 26
Farmers' Market Hotline: (303) 887-Farm
Web site: http://www.denverfarmersmarket.com/

Lakewood, Belmar, SE corner of S. Wadsworth & W. Alameda
(access Alaska Dr. via Teller St., Vance St. or Saulsbury St.)
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., June 1 - Sept. 28
E-mail: brittanym@continuumll.com
Web site: http://www.belmarcolorado.com/

Palisade, 3rd & Main
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., June - Sept.
E-mail: tdarrah@townofpalisade.org
Web site: http://www.townofpalisade.org/

Parker, Parker Crossroads (northwest corner of Parker Rd. & Main St.)
8 a.m. - 1 p.m., May 11 - Oct. 28
E-mail: simmons03@att.net
Web site: http://www.laughingdogfarms.net/

Ridgway, Ouray County Fairgrounds
8a.m. - 12 p.m., June 15 - Sept. 28

Vail, Meadow Dr. in Vail Village
10 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., June 15- Sept. 7
Web site: http://www.rockymountainmarkets.com/

Westminster, 105th and Sheridan
10 a.m. - 4 p.m., May - Oct.
Web site: http://www.millerfarms.net/

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Don't Miss This One

O.K., I'm back -- just in time to publicize some very cool stuff going on at Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG).

DBG has recently launched a series of classes on sustainable living called The Urban Homestead. These classes are designed to provide the skills necessary to grow your own food on even the smallest city lot.

Don't miss this one:

Thursday, July 24, 7:00 p.m.
Community Film Screening and Local Food Open House
'The Real Dirt on Farmer John'
Denver Botanic Gardens Mitchell Hall
Meet Farmer John, whose inspirational story has won accolades and awards at film festivals around the world. The Real Dirt on Farmer John charts the story of a family farm from its traditional roots through its reinvention as a haven for hippies and artists, its tragic collapse in the farm debt crisis of the 80s, and finally its transformation into one of the largest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms in the United States, a beacon of today's booming organic farming movement. Come early to visit an expo of local farmers, co-ops, community gardens and markets and meet your local 'Farmer Johns'! Please note: this film contains brief nudity and references to drug use. $10 suggested donation; pre-registration recommended due to limited space. To register, call 720-865-3580 or visit http://www.botanicgardens.org/ .

Direct link to register for the film: http://www.peopleware.net/index.cfm?siteCode=2736&eventDisp=08ADULTNC&subeventdisp=08JLL115&CFID=17857256&CFTOKEN=3abc16f-9a3efb2d-c5e1-41bc-9e9e-1acd0a5185f2

More information about Farmer John (and his movie):
http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/realdirt/

YouTube trailer:
www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqP1SC5Tr7U

Look for other classes in the Urban Homestead series in the events section of this blogsite by clicking here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Upcoming Events, Etc.

Here it is May 14th, and I just updated my "quote of the month" for May (good grief!) It is: "Nature does not hurry -- and yet everything gets accomplished." I'm not sure of the original source; it came to me as part of the signature block in an email from a fellow Denver Urban Gardens volunteer.

I choose it because it is especially fitting, given the current rhythms of my life. Or disruption of rhythms, as the case may be.

I recently went back to work full time, for a new company, in a new industry. My time is no longer my own. I am measuring it out in Eliot's proverbial coffee spoons -- a cupful for gainful employment, one or two spoonsful a day to my garden, the community garden, my family, et al.

I feel a bit like Alice falling down the rabbit hole. The learning curve at work is steep; I'm meeting a whole new cast of colorful characters, and over my shoulder there is the ghost of a grin reminding me that eventually, everything will settle down and I'll find a new rhythm. One that works a little better.

So apologies for the delay in postings; meanwhile here are a couple of cool events on the horizon:

Saturday, May 17, 2008, 8am - 3 pm
Plant-a-Palooza
CSU, Denver Extension Plant Sale (Denver)
Harvard Gulch Park
888 East Iliff Avenue
This is a major fund-raising event for CSU Denver Extension, staffed by Colorado Master Gardeners and offering plants you need to start your own gardens, including colorful annuals and Plant Select perennials chosen to do well in Denver's cklimate; herbs; a wide variety of peppers and tomatoes, including heirlooms, paste and modern varieties. I'll be working this event, chipping away at the volunteer hours I need to achieve full Master Gardener status.

Wednesday, May 21, 7 - 9 pm
"Green Umbrella" Networking Event:
Mapping Our Community Resources (Durango)
The Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado is sponsoring its second "Green Umbrella" networking event. The purpose of this event is to come together to assess local sustainability resources, leading to an online "map" of community assets and opportunities. Their goal is to understand the roles of various participants in contributing to local sustainability in critical topical areas, including energy, water, food, conservation, education, land use, health care, the local economy, and cultural diversity.
Where: Sunlight Room, Durango Rec Center, 2700 Main Avenue, Durango.
When: 7pm - 9pm
More information: RSVP by May 14 to Werner Heiber at 970-769-2688 or werner.heiber@gmail.com, www.sustainableswcolorado.org

Saturday, May 24, 4-10 pm
Launch Event for Colorado Local First
- (Denver)
Held at the D Note in Arvada (7519 Grandview Avenue), this kick-off event features live local music, drink specials, awesome pizza, door prizes from local businesses and more. This event is a celebration of local first, and will be the official unveiling of the Colorado Local First campaign and online directory. The interactive directory is the only definitive resource for finding locally-owned businesses in Colorado communities. For more information, check out the Colorado Local First website at www.milehighbiz.org

Saturday, April 26, 2008

News for Producers

Grants Available to Market Colorado Agriculture

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is accepting grant applications for funding through its new "Ag Products Utilization & Marketing Program." Grant funds will assist Colorado companies to research and develop new uses and markets for food and agricultural products that are grown, raised or processed in Colorado.

"The program is ideal for Colorado's farmers, ranchers and food processors, providing funds to assist with feasibility studies, market development and promotions," said Tom Lipetzky, markets division director of the Colorado Department of Agriculture. "Our goal is to help Colorado's food and agricultural suppliers position their businesses to take advantage of local, regional, national and international market opportunities."

Projects eligible for funding include, but are not limited to, feasibility studies and technical projects such as assessing the potential of establishing an agricultural value-added business project; and marketing and promotion projects such as first-time participation in trade shows, new product launches and promotions supporting the development of new sales channels. Approximately $100,000 is available, and the maximum award per project is $20,000.

A matching contribution of cash and in-kind resources equal to at least 50 percent of the total project budget is required. Applications may be submitted at anytime as there is no deadline to apply for funds.

For an application and program guidelines, contact the Colorado Department of Agriculture Markets Division at (303) 239-4116 or visit www.coloradoagriculture.com.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Now Available: The Rocky Mountain Growers Directory

Meet Jim Sincock and Tracy Sweely of Nederland -- founders of Colorado Local Sustainability and The Rocky Mountain Growers Directory.

A while ago, they began searching for local food sources produced in a sustainable manner. They wanted to support local farmers and ranchers who used sustainable practices instead of supporting industrial food production which destroys nutrients in food, undermines agricultural diversity, uses excessive amounts of energy, creates pollution, and most of all, destroys local food economies. Alas, it was not an easy task.

“Until we began our own search for sustainably grown or raised local food, we never imagined how much work it would be to find local growers,” they claim. “The harder we searched, the more it became obvious that there was a need for a comprehensive directory of sustainable growers of Colorado. We know the average person wouldn’t spend the time we have looking for local, sustainable growers, so it is our goal to provide the definitive guide to these growers and marketers of sustainable food products in Colorado. We feel that it is extremely important to support our local farms and ranches, as well as other locally owned businesses. We hope that you feel the same, and help us to create this directory, and by using it, help us to stimulate sustainable local economies.”

I’m happy to report that the first, annual, statewide, sustainable growers directory for Colorado, The Rocky Mountain Growers Directory, is now available in print! A few weeks ago, they began shipping copies to over ninety distributors around Colorado; to find a distributor near you, visit their website by clicking here.