News & Blog

Welcome to the blog.
Posted 6/13/2011 3:33pm by Doris Boardman.


Welcome to the Chatfield CSA blog, and welcome to CSA shareholder and blog author Vicki Witt Phillips. A former writer and editor originally from Lexington, KY, Vicki has worked for publications in Cincinnati, Atlanta and finally Denver, where she has lived since 2003. Her food blog entries, Vicki’s Vegetable Venture, will chronicle her experiences receiving a weekly box of produce from the CSA during the 2011 growing season.

Why I’m Joining the Chatfield CSA

My father had the most amazing vegetable garden. We lived in the country on the outskirts of Lexington, KY, where the limestone soil of the the Bluegrass State yielded the best-tasting tomatoes ever. The output of his garden was so ample we had plenty to share with neighbors, friends and family, plus lots to preserve for the winter.

When my dad was 83, the Lexington Herald-Leader ran a photo of him beside his vine of tobacco worm beans, which had grown to such heights he was on a ladder to pick the top-most beans. He never used chemical fertilizers or pesticides, even though the term “organic” was not how he described his garden. He just tended his plants the only way he knew how – weeding, watering, harvesting, nurturing.

I Can’t Even Grow Mint

Growing up with abundant fresh produce all summer long, I never appreciated what a treasure trove we had right in our backyard. Even as an adult, long after I’d left Lexington, visits back home would mean a return to the bounty of that garden. My mother, who was Italian, used to make an exquisite dish of Italian sausage and garden-picked peppers and onions. Or she’d simply drizzle olive oil and sprinkle oregano over a plateful of juicy ripe tomatoes.

Old-timey stringbeans, fuzzy crookneck squash, odd-shaped heirloom tomatoes – all would vie for space on the kitchen counter. Bits of dirt, miniscule crawly critters, strands of corn silk, pieces of grass – these were regular kitchen visitors, too.

Here in Denver, I have no yard to grow anything, although many of my Wash Park neighbors do grow lovely summer crops. But it wouldn’t matter if I did have a yard, because I never learned from my dad how to garden. In fact, a few years ago I killed the mint I had growing in a container out front. My husband, Ray, who takes great care of our house plants, reckons I just didn’t water it enough for Denver’s dry air. Even so, he asks, how can you kill mint?

At Last … Tender Lettuce

In recent years, as the concept of community supported agriculture (CSA) has gained in popularity, I keep recalling those vegetables from my childhood home. Many times I’ve flirted with the idea of becoming a shareholder in a CSA, talking to lots of folks who’ve done it. Frankly, though, I’ve been scared off by the accounts of others who claimed they just got too much produce. “Vegetable anxiety” was a phrase I kept hearing.

This year I finally decided to take the plunge. I think it was getting tasteless, tough, old lettuce one too many times at the grocery store that pushed me over the edge. I researched various CSAs in our area and went with Chatfield’s because the produce doesn’t travel long distances to reach me, they donate to homeless shelters and the price was right.

What to Do with a Boatload of Radishes?

The first distribution is on June 16. On that day all the shareholders go out to Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield to pick up their first harvest of the year. I plan to bring along my dad, who now lives in a nursing home here in Denver. Now 89, he has dementia but still mentions his garden from time to time. I think he’ll be in his element when he sees the garden at Chatfield.

I’m both excited and nervous as June 16 approaches. Can’t wait to have a fresh salad, savor sweet peas that aren’t frozen or canned, bite into a tomato that tastes like a tomato, and cook with fresh herbs without spending $4 a pop. But what if I come home with a boatload of radishes? What if my weekly box has some foreign vegetable in it that I’ve never even heard of? What if there’s too much for Ray and me to eat?

Read Our Blog!

In this ongoing blog throughout the CSA season, I’ll keep you posted on how I’m doing. Here you’ll read what veggies I receive in each distribution, what I cook with them, whether I had to give or throw anything away, how the produce tastes, what new recipes I’m using in order to use everything up, and what planning is involved in the process.

I aim to give an accurate picture of this experience to help others decide whether to join a CSA. And we’ll see whether I achieve my three goals for this CSA experience:

  1. Avoid throwing anything away.
  2. Eat more healthfully – i.e., more veggies, less meat.
  3. Enjoy a summer full of fresh produce!

 

Posted 6/10/2011 12:00pm by Leigh Rovegno.

Dear CSA Shareholders,

Our season has gotten off to a great start, thanks to rain and perfect temperatures! The crops are looking beautiful, our staff has become a family and we have had a great turnout of volunteers this year to help us. We’d like to introduce our new and returning staff so you have an idea of who will be at each distribution. 

Leigh Rovegno, manager of the CSA, will head the York Street distribution team and will be joined by Brian Gandy and Elizabeth Mullen, CSA growers. Jenny Thomas, our head grower, will be at our Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield distribution. She was with the CSA last year. DeJa Walker and Sami Lester, CSA interns, will also be part of our Chatfield distribution. Josie Hart-Genter, new this year, is the CSA community coordinator and will be at our first distribution.


new options
this year

Fruit Shares

You have the option this year to add a fruit share to your normal distribution pickups. Each week starting in August, you will be able to pick up a pre-bagged selection of:

  • Peaches
  • Apples or pears
  • Peaches and plums
  • Applesauce
  • Cider

The deadline for payment has been extended to June 23, a week after our first distribution. If you are interested in purchasing a share, you can bring a check or credit card to our first distribution and buy it then. Each share is $210, however feel free to split it with another family. For more details please see the contract linked below. You can pick up your bag of fruit when you pick up your regular share at either location.
http://sfc.smallfarmcentral.com/dynamic_content/uploadfiles/1321/2011FruitShareInformationAndContract1.pdf
New Produce

We have added new and exciting crops this year to our distribution, so stay tuned for recipes and cooking demos for these veggies. The new herbs/veggies include:

  • Fennel
  • Kholrabi
  • Parsnips
  • Additional turnips
  • Watermelon
  • Garlic
  • Additional potato varieties
  • Brussel sprouts
     

first distribution (june 16, 4-7 p.m.) 

Our first distribution for all shareholders will be held at our CSA washstand building, behind the Hildebrand Ranch area. Please park in the schoolhouse parking lot and head down the path past the ranch house until you see the small white building on your left. We will have tours of the field if you would like to see the crops growing. We also will have a cooking/tasting demonstration by Susan Evans, herbalist and chef. She will be working with the vegetables of the week and handing out recipes to take home. Please remember to bring your own bags and fruit share payment methods.

When you arrive, you will be selecting produce from baskets, weighing it out and bagging it up. We will let you know how much of each item is available to you depending on the size of your share.


this week’s produce
(june 16)

Lettuce, spinach, dill, cilantro, parsley, oregano, salad mix, arugula, kale

  • Please note that this is a tentative list and is subject to change.


next week’s produce
(june 21 or 23)

Lettuce, spinach, dill, cilantro, parsley, oregano, salad mix, arugula, kale, snap peas, radish

  • Please note that this is a tentative list and is subject to change.


weekly
pick up locations 

For York Street members, the pick up location will be the same as last year, at the south end of the top level in the parking structure. Look for our signs and our friendly staff at the tables. Park in a spot at the south end. York street distribution will last from 4:30-7 p.m. every Tuesday.

For Chatfield members, we will be at the washstand building from 4:30-6:30 p.m. every Thursday.  Please park in the schoolhouse parking lot and follow the signs. You will have a short walk, so please remember to bring an adequate number of bags.


volunteer
opportunities

Please keep in mind that we still need to fill crucial volunteer positions for our CSA. If you are interested, please email Josie Hart-Genter at josie.hart@botanicgardens.org


food safety
note

Please note that although we have washed our produce once after harvesting it in the field, members should wash the produce at home again before eating. Our farm produce should be treated the same way as grocery store produce: always wash before eating! The best way to wash produce is by running it under cool water. Cleaning products are not necessary. 
  

Posted 6/2/2011 7:00pm by Leigh Rovegno.

Hi CSA Members,

Due to the higher temperatures this week our first batch of CSA lettuce was ready a little early. We harvested it this morning and we will be handing it out tomorrow, here at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. If you are a CSA member, please come by the tent located in front of the schoolhouse. We realize that the timing is not going to be perfect for everybody, but this is just a bonus to us all and you will still be receiving plenty of fresh veggies for the first distribution on June 16. Thanks, and see you tomorrow if you are interested.