Archive for December, 2010

Thanks @BoulderLocavore!

A few months ago I stumbles across @BoulderLocavore on twitter.  She posts a great wealth of tweets about food along the Front Range and around the country.  Along with a great twitter account, she also has a great blog!  She’s been hosting a bunch of cookbook give-aways this fall.  I won one of the contests for cookbook called “Fresh From the Garden Cookbook.”

When I got a little package in the mail I was blown away with the extra detail she added.  I’ve won a few contests before, but when the prize arrived it was in a shipping envelope.  BoulderLocavore put them all to shame!

Thanks for hosting the contests and going the extra mile in sending it out with extra care.  You all should stop over at her blog and add it to your RSS feed.  You’ll be glad you did.

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Catering an Open House

Yesterday I catered a small open house for a Realtor in Estes Park, Colorado. He was showcasing a newly built home to other realtors in town.  The house looked incredible. I should have taken some pictures of the place.  The client wanted a simple “wine and appetizer” menu, and wasn’t very picky with what I came up with.  We discussed the budget and I came up with, what I felt like, a nice menu that would match the feel of the house.  Here’s the menu I decided on:

Spinach and feta phyllo triangles
Wid Mushroom and Blue Cheese phyllo triangles
Pepper crusted Sirloin and Pearl Onion kabobs
Molasses Spiced Cookies
Cranberry Phyllo Baskets

I paired the food with a Gewürztraminer from Columbia Crest and a Beringer Founder’s Cabernet Sauvignon.

When catering an event like this I think it’s important that the food is complementary to the venue.  The house that was being showed was brand new.  It had a balanced feel of modern and rustic (it is Estes Park, after all) and there were great attention to details in each room.  My goal was to have the food offer a similar feel.  I folded each phyllo triangle myself.  I made the phyllo baskets rather than buying an inferior pre-made shell.  It takes time to focus on these details, but the end result speaks for itself.

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I’m excited to be able to announce some more info about the new farm.  Earlier this week we were able to get the trade name I wanted for the farm: Common Roots.  The process of naming a business can be a challenge.  I wanted a name that had a descriptive element to it, as well as being concise to avoid confusion.  Common Roots was one of the names that popped into my head early on, and it stuck with me as I thought about other names.  The bonus was that it wasn’t a registered trade name in Colorado, so it was available for us to use.

So why “Common Roots” as a name?  The unique thing about Common Roots as an urban farm is that we will be employing developmentally disabled adults to work at the farm.  My business partners are the owners of Steamers Coffee House and Jack’s wine bar. They currently have over 30 developmentally disabled adults working at the coffee shop and restaurant.  I worked with them for a short time before I went back to school, and I fell in love with what they were doing.  I hadn’t had much contact with folks with disabilities before this job so initially I was tentative about working there, but once I started working I felt at home.  That job was the most fun I have ever had at work.  While I was working there I started talking about how much fun it would be to have a market garden or farm as a way to employ more disabled adults.  We started looking into the possibility, but the timing wasn’t right.

Fast forward to this past fall.  I called one of the owners of Steamers and asked her if she wanted talk about the farm idea again.  She was excited about the possibility, and once we started talking things started to fall into place.  Shortly after we started talking we found a piece of property to farm.  The property is just under 1 acre and has an old farmhouse that was built in 1912.  We’ll be able to have 1/2 acre in cultivation, which will be a great amount of space to grow on while we explore what it will be like to farm with developmentally disabled adults.

I’m planning on having a small Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) and also selling a Farmers Market and a Farm Stand.  Our disabled farmers will be planting, harvesting, washing, and selling the vegetables.  There’s a lot of planning that needs to happen before the first seeds go into the ground.  There’s equipment and supplies to order, a planting schedule to create, job descriptions to write for the employees, and seed catalogs to drool over.  There’s also a mess of business details that we need to get squared away.  And if any of you fine people want to donate a little time to help me with a logo, I’d be eternally grateful.

We’ll that’s it for this update.  You can find us on facebook at www.facebook.com/CommonRootsFarm. “Like” us and you can stay updated as we move forward.

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Yesterday I drove down to Wheat Ridge to get some soil prep work done at the new farm.  Our new place is on a 1 acre property, and we’ll have about 1/2 acre to cultivate.  (So does this make up a “Tiny Farm” or a “Big Urban Farm?”)  The house on the property is a small, 100 year old farm house (complete with root cellar!), and from what I can tell, vegetables haven’t been grown on the property since the house was built.

I think it’s funny/sad that right next to this tiny 100 year old house, there are massive, million dollar homes right next door.  In the space that will be farmed there is a mound of soil that we’ll need to level out and there’s a slight slope that needs to be corrected, but surprisingly, the first tilling was easier than I expected.  It took me about 3 hours to shallow till the plot with a low, slow gear and since we have clay soils here, I didn’t want to till too deep on the first pass.  I bought a used Troy Bilt “Big Red” till this week, and it worked beautifully.  It’s got an 11 HP engine and it was great to see the difference from the smaller, 6HP tillers I’ve used in the past.  After the first pass with the tiller I spent the remaining daylight hours picking rocks out of the soil.  This is a slow task, so I was grateful to have a good friend stop by and help out.

I’m hoping that I’ll be able to level the soil, and till in some manure before the soil freezes or it starts snowing.  I sent a soil sample off to be analyzed and I’ve gotten the results back so I know what my goals are for building the soil nutrients.  I figured that I’ll probably need about 5-7 tons of manure for the 1/2 acre.  That might look like a lot, but when it’s applied it will look like a light dusting on the soil surface.  It just so happens that the house across the street from us has goats and chickens, so I’d like to talk with them and see if I can get some of the manure from them.

This new farm is about an hour away from where we are living now, so my time to work on the property is limited to the weekends until May when we move.  So in the mean time, I’ll be watching the weather and crossing my fingers that the weather will stay warm and dry until I can get the prep work done.  And if any of you get an itch to pick up some rock or move some soil, let me know and I’ll be happy to let you help.

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