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!
Ryan Morris spent his childhood in Pueblo just three miles from Country Roots Farm, but it took him years of working as an occupational therapist all across the West to realize that farming was his calling. Why make the switch? “You go to many less meetings,” he deadpans. Besides, he adds, “I love working outside and it’s a more well-rounded way to raise a family.” And a family operation it is. Morris runs the 13-acre farm with his wife Betsy, his son Reed and his mother Virginia.
Morris is a veteran when it comes to community supported agriculture. His CSA opened 15 years ago, the same year as the farm. For years interest grew steadily but after the publication of Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, he noticed a change. “When Kingsolver’s book came out a whole new type of person was interested…your average basic Joe walking around.” That’s when business really took off. The farm currently has more than 100 members, with distribution points in Pueblo and Colorado Springs.
The CSA lasts from June to October and, weather permitting, includes some 35 kinds of vegetables from beets to melons. But when you factor in all the different varieties the number is far higher. For example, Morris tries his hand at lemon and Poona Kheera cucumbers (which are the kind grown in Nepal, as he happily learned from a visiting Nepalese student). Morris also grows five or more varieties of tomatoes, peppers, winter and summer squash, potatoes, watermelons and basil. And while novelty is nice, he stresses that other factors go into his decision about what to put in the field. “It’s fine if it has the looks,” he says, “but taste is always more important to us.”