APRIL 2015

The New Header

"Our human story begins in a garden, not in the wilds. And it involves more than the inexorable laws of nature. Humanity is the factor that opens the earth up to new possibilities and realizations. The outcome depends on us."

- Father Michael Czerny

Are you ready for Easter?

ABOVE, get naturally tinted earth-toned "Easter eggs" at Ranch Foods Direct, provided by these free-range Callicrate chickens!


BELOW, Ranch Foods Direct has Radiantly Raw's beautiful chocolate Easter eggs, made from all healthy ingredients. Plus, try the new carrot cake truffle!





Michael Brownlee: Driving a local food shift
Catalyst. That's the job title listed on Michael Brownlee's business card. That's also the role he hopes a new magazine will play in a long-term effort to shift the Colorado Springs economy toward more locally-owned growers and processors like Ranch Foods Direct. In remarks Brownlee made last fall at Colorado College as part of Local Food Week festivities, he emphasized that local food offers social, environmental and spriritual benefits, not just financial ones.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW: "Local Food Shift is a nonpofit organization that helps to catalyze localization of our food supply. We've been doing that for the past eight years. But now we're focused exclusively on creating a Colorado magazine that will be at the center of the local food movement and its emerging industry. We feel like we can accomplish more with a well-designed publication than anything else."

COMPARE IT TO EDIBLE FRONT RANGE. AREN'T THEY USING A COMMUNITY BASED PUBLISHING MODEL? "We're in a different niche. Edible Front Range (available at Ranch Foods Direct) is much more about gourmet foods than about localizing our food supply. Our publication will be very specific to the topic of how do we rebuild the infrastructure for local food that is missing right now? Less than 3 percent of the food consumed in Colorado comes from Colorado. We're working to increase that number."

WHAT HAS RANCH FOODS DIRECT BROUGHT TO THE LOCAL FOOD SCENE? "(Owner) Mike Callicrate is one of our heroes.  To me he is one of the most important voices in agriculture today anywhere in this country. We listen and take notes on what he's saying. If he was just building a business, that would be one thing, but he is one of the true food leaders in Colorado Springs. It's coming from his heart. We're very fortunate to be able to learn from him."

DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL APPROACH TO FOOD: "Over the last few years our primary source of food has been a CSA (community supported agriculture program.) We (he and Lynette Marie Hanthorn, co-founder of the Local Food Shift Group) belong to two CSAs and share a lot of the food we get with our neighbors. We don't go to a supermarket anymore, we just don't. We garden at home. But the biggest change we've made came in the last few years. We were both vegetarians, for 20 years or so. We felt very uncomfortable in not supporting local producers of animal protein. So we became recovering vegetarians. It's just been a natural progression for us.

TELL US MORE ABOUT THE MAGAZINE: "We plan to start out by publishing six times a year with about 76 pages each time. We expect to grow that to more than 200 pages over the next couple of years. Where we are ultimately going is that it will be membership-based. Your membership will include a subscription to the magazine as well as discounts from advertisers and exclusive online content. The theme we are looking at right now for our first issue is seeds and sprouts, which is metaphorical: it means new developments in our foodshed. Our first issue should come out by early June, the same time as the Slow Meat conference in Denver (hosted by the Slow Food organization.) We see that as a very important event in terms of formulating a discussion around the role of animals in local food agriculture."
Learn more about Local Food Shift during a special farm-to-table dinner Saturday, April 18!

Click the graphic to get all of the details.
Ranch hosts spring open house, tour and cookout May 2-3

On the first weekend in May (May 2-3) Callicrate Cattle Co. will host the annual spring open house, tour and barbecue cookout at St. Francis, Kan. Carpooling is available (or plan to drive your own vehicle); choose from a variety of lodging options. Call Nikowa for more specifics. Sign-up in store or on Facebook.  



Saturday, May 2

1 p.m. Depart Ranch Foods Direct in Colorado Springs

4 p.m. Arrive in St. Francis, Kansas

6:30 p.m. Old fashioned cookout at Callicrate Cattle Co.
(featuring Callicrate Beef Burgers, Brats and more.)

Sunday, May 3

Local tour of Callicrate Cattle Co. (see the cows, pigs and chickens)  

as well as the mobile meat processing unit and the new bio-char processor

Approx. 3 p.m. Depart St. Francis for Colorado Springs

Sign up in April; get fresh veggies by late May!
Spring is bringing another growing season to Fowler's Greenhorn Acres...

As the first busy weeks of spring planting began, Marcy Nameth, who owns and operates Greenhorn Acres with her four sons, took a moment to reflect on one of last year's most successful experiments: sweet potatoes.

Colorado is an ideal place to grow melons and peppers, onions, potatoes and grains. But sweet potatoes? Not so much. "The conventional wisdom is they just don't grow in Colorado, although we might well be on the dividing line here since we usually get pretty warm down along the Arkansas River," notes Marcy, who farms near Fowler.

She admits sometimes it takes some sleuthing to find out what crops will work in a given place. And the results can be surprising. Late last season Greenhorn Acres ended up with a nice harvest of large, dark-fleshed Beauregard sweet potatoes. "I was talking to an old-timer recently and he said they used to grow sweet potatoes when he was a kid, and I'm pretty sure they didn't use black plastic mulch and drip irrigation," she adds. "Just goes to show there's nothing new under the sun! It could be that last year was a fluke; maybe the 2-plus inches of rain we had along with the hail and tornado are what really did the trick, not the drip and plastic mulch! I think individual cultivars and micro-climates are the key to borderline-adaptable crops and trees - almonds, pecans and figs come to mind, even peaches and apricots. Then too there's the variance from year to year. We never have a good crop of kohlrabi because it usually gets too hot too fast, but last year we had some nice ones. So I think it's absolutely worth it to push the envelope. Sometimes it works and sometimes not, but we keep planting anyway."

CSA memberships are available at GreenhornAcres.com