My long time friend Dave has danced around the perimeter of the local organic food movement in CSA form. He and wife Donna are bonafide foodies, home chefs, amateur mixologists (Dave that is, leaving immediate and frothy comments on any of my posts containing booze) and are invested in quality food ingredients. He’s heard me blather on with great enthusiasm about our weekly CSA proceeds, beautiful mini bok choy, what I found at 8:00 a.m. when the Farmer’s Market opens on a Saturday, for a number of years now.
Last year they were bitten by the CSA bug having learned the family who does their landscaping also has a small farm and had started a CSA. As much as Dave loved the prospect of fresh organic produce, knowing him, the clincher was that they deliver. He’s been singing like a bird about it ever since and has repeatedly suggested I meet Allison, the farmer, so I did.
Let me lead in by saying for those who don’t know a ‘CSA’ stands for Community Supported Agriculture. That means farms that offer them allow patrons to buy into their harvest for the season for a fee and they then receive a ‘share’ of what the farm picks weekly. CSAs often offer differing volumes noted by a share size that can be estimated to serve a specific number of people. A farm can tell you what they are planting, generally when you’ll see certain crops but of course the CSA proceeds are at the mercy of weather conditions, water as well as any pests, especially in the case of organic farms which do not use pesticides. Personally I love the surprise opportunity of it all.
On an unseasonably warm day last week I trekked out to Hygiene Colorado (a tiny town outside Longmont with deep farming roots) to meet Allison Edwards, owner and farmer of Sol Y Sombra Farm; an organic, biodynamic farm nestled in the shadow of Long’s Peak. There really is not anything I consider more fun than running around farms and meeting farmers. I love to grow food myself and love the earnest commitment to good food I’ve found in the organic farm community. Allison provided to be no exception.
She’s a spunky, beach-blonde powerhouse with a vision and drive for the clean food movement. Sidebar conversations about aspects of the movie Food Inc and Supersize Me littered our dialog, linking us in our focus on good food. Sol Y Sombra farm comprises 1 ½ acres directly behind Allison’s house and an additional 2 acres on neighboring farms. She has been doing the farm and CSA for three years with expansion yearly. They farm by organic practices but are not certified organic (note: for me, if I know the farmer and their practices that is enough. The certification process is cost-prohibitive for many small or starter farms, but always ask if that is important to you).
For those in more temperate climates who do not suffer the full shut down of locally grown food, I’m sure there is no beauty to be had in looking as the now dirt patch that is this farm. To me however, gazing upon it, especially with the spectacular backdrop, it looks like promise. Entering the greenhouse you could see the planned crops taking root in the humid air buffered from our outside winter chill which I found thrilling.
They have gorgeous laying hens of a color I’d kill to dye my hair, producing eggs for the CSA. Allison showed me the mobile chicken coops (a la Joel Salatin from Polyface Farms for anyone who saw Food Inc., or has read about him in Michael Pollan’s books) where the ‘girls’ will be moving once the weather is more consistent. Two ducks were purchased to provide eggs as well, though turned out to both be drakes with a La Cage aux Folles type arrangement, leaving them on their intimate own, inseparable and heckled readily by the hens.
The farm installed a bee hive in the last two years which Allison is convinced has changed their plant success rate based on the pollination. They have a quince tree which has never bloomed until they got the bees. Sol Y Sombra has planted an apple orchard this year which will take some time to come to fruition but will round out their CSA contents further once it is producing.
I asked Allison if there was a message she would want to convey what it would be that she wants to change the way people eat. She, like so many today, feel food is being reduced into chemical compounds and labeled as edible. I think with the raspberries, strawberries, cherry bushes, heirloom beans started from a handful of unusual beans from her grandparents garden, sweet potatoes (not often grown in this region), corn (new this year), remaining bountiful crop selections, Farm to Table dinners, recipes supplied with the weekly CSA delivery for the crops you receive, Sol Y Sombra has a well rounded offering. They supply to a number of local restaurants, solicit input on CSA members’ crop preferences (I personally know Dave has a penchant for broccoli rabe and is not above begging Allison to plant more) and will have a kid’s farm camp this year as well.
Some more specifics:
Their CSA season runs 22 weeks beginning in May. They have ½ shares (1/2 bushel basket) and full shares (a bushel basket) which THEY DELIVER ANYWHERE IN BOULDER COUNTY. During the hot season they just ask you leave a cooler on your porch for them to unload into. For space management and environmental impact, they felt having 3 cars delivering to CSA members was better than everyone coming out to the farm. A deposit is due upon signing up and remainder payment May 1.
If you’ve ever wanted to try a CSA and really eat locally and seasonally, give Sol Y Sombra a try. They still have CSA’s for this season available. And I’m with Dave, THEY DELIVER!
To learn more or sign up click here!