Community-supported agriculture isn’t just about produce. It’s about community, too. So for the next few weeks I’ll be talking to the Colorado farmers who are bringing us the fruits and vegetables we’ve grown to love — before they get too busy in the fields to talk!
Some people start buying organic produce after reading a book. Others do so because they’ve heard about pesticide residue and the Dirty Dozen on the news. But Andy Grant, owner of the 2,000-acre Grant Family Farms in Wellington, made the switch for a more personal reason.
As a child his dog was out catching grasshoppers, but they were contaminated with chemicals and his dog died. “I learned at the age of eight the power and destructiveness of insecticide,” says Grant. Little wonder that Grant Family Farms has been organic since 1975, long before organic was in.
The majority of the farm is devoted to crops like corn, wheat, lettuce and spinach. But additional produce is grown for the CSA, so members can expect nearly 70 different varieties of herbs and vegetables. While most embrace that diversity, the folks who run the CSA recognize that many still need a little help. “People get so easily pigeonholed into a few comfortable vegetables to buy,” says CSA director Josh Palmer. “They’re challenged with what to do with all that cabbage and kohlrabi.” The farm does all it can to help with education, so members know how to freeze and dry their produce to extend the season.
Although the CSA is only in its third year, it runs like a well-oiled machine and already has more than 1,000 members. “This is a 30-plus-year-old operation,” says Palmer, referring to the larger farm. “Our experience in growing produce helps us get early starts and late ends,” making for a 26-week season, one of the longest in the state. The farm also has the wherewithal to arrange a vast delivery network, with distribution points from southern Wyoming to Colorado Springs, including about 25 in the Denver area alone.
Despite the farm’s overall size, the operation retains a family feel. “People still say, ‛Oh yah, that’s Andy and his organic garden,’” laughs Grant.