February 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
This week is already making me realize I’ve been pretty disconnected from food despite being fairly knowledgeable about it. When buying food, I’ve typically just thought about it in terms of finding a reputable grocery store & farmers market. Today I visited Monroe Organic Farms, the oldest organic farm in CO. In researching CSA programs to join I knew I would be thinking a lot more about where my food would be coming from. I knew I wanted to go and see the farms. After my visit today I also left thinking a lot more about the idea of who is feeding me. I realize I’ve been completely disconnected from the people producing the food I eat. After talking with Jacquie and Jerry Monroe, I would be more than happy to have them feeding me. I think that is one of the special things about a CSA. You not only know where your food is coming from but who is growing it. When you meet the Monroes you realize they are completely connected to the land. You get the feeling they tend to your food rather than just produce it.
Monroe Farms has been in the family for generations and dates back to the 30s; they’ll be celebrating their 75th anniversary this year. It is also one of the oldest CSAs in the state going on its 19th year. I chose to learn more about them because I think of them as a full service CSA if you will. You not only get produce shipments but they also provide eggs, meat, honey and winter shipment as well. You even have the opportunity to work the farm as part of the CSA.
I met a few volunteers today who were packing up the weekly shipment. It’s nice because many people bring their kids so they can understand more about where food comes from. I’m learning how hard it is to be a farmer – the amount of work it requires for little pay (typically 19 cents on the dollar) and the knowledge it all rests fully on your shoulders. Jacquie confided the stress they went through when their daughter had to have a number of surgeries over the past couple of years and their gratitude to the volunteers who helped them get through when they had to be away from the farm to tend to their daughter. They’ve built a true community around their farm. Joining a CSA helps farmers to make a decent living and focus on the food.
Jerry showed me around the farm, explained the equipment they use and also talked about how owning a farm often involves a bit of experimentation. I think one of my favorite “experiments” of the farm was the straw chicken hut. The chickens seem to be quite happy in them; there were even a few lounging around in “hammocks”. Jerry sent me home with 2 dozen fresh eggs which I can’t wait to try. I haven’t had fresh eggs in years.
There is so much more I could write about my visit. For me, I’ve wanted part of this project to be about feeling more of a sense of community after living in various cities over the past decade. I think joining a CSA like the one Monroe Farms offers is certainly a step in the right direction.