MAY 2015

The New Header

"Some gardeners seem unable to fully enjoy their gardens, so caught up are they in the latest skirmish with mildew or beetle. Weeding can attain the status of a holy war.  

My philosophy is: Forget winning. Cultivate delight."

- Poet and Author Diane Ackerman

With recent purchase, Ranch Foods Direct gains welcome room to expand  

ABOVE, the food distribution warehouse at 4635 Town Center Drive. 


A late April building purchase represents a monumental step forward in the evolution of Ranch Foods Direct. "It's a very big deal," says owner Mike Callicrate. "We've been looking three years to find a place we could own outright." With a few modest renovations, the old Federal Food Service building at 4635 Town Center Drive - just southwest of the Platte and Powers intersection -  ­will offer nearly 30,000 square feet of food-ready space. Many details are still being finalized, but Mike's bold ideas for expansion include:

* A much-needed local food hub and commercial kitchen; 


* Room for additional smoking, curing and other prepared food applications; 


* Ideal facilities to handle a much larger selection of fresh produce; 


* Room to offer educational and food apprenticeship-type programs; 


* Roughly 3 acres of property landscaped to provide pollinator habitat.  


Repairs and renovations are expected to occur over the next 90 days but the company is already moving equipment and inventory into the new building. East-siders can also look forward to a new retail outlet on-site. "It will be a beehive of activity," Mike says.  


Last call! Ranch tour leaves Saturday

With the first weekend in May fast approaching, Callicrate Cattle Co. is preparing to host the annual spring open house, tour and barbecue cookout in St. Francis, Kan. Carpooling is available (or plan to drive your own vehicle); choose from a variety of lodging options.  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


Natural soil enhancer now available at Ranch Foods Direct!
5-gallon bucket of bone-char
soil amendment: $65

5-gallon bucket of bio-char (wood) soil amendment: $45

Also available in smaller amounts;
ask for details at the store


Scott Wilson, above right, the Master Gardener at the Galileo School of Math and Science in Colorado Springs, started garden-testing bone-char, a soil amendment from Callicrate Cattle Company, last month. "Christine (Faith) and I are very excited about conducting plant growth experiments with it," he says. The District 11 garden should be ideal; it includes more than 25,000 square feet of plant beds. Scott is already a fan of bio-char, a similar product made from wood scraps and shown to increase yields by 20 percent. Bone-char is likely to offer even bigger benefits because of its high nutrient density. As Scott's research unfolds, Ranch Foods Direct will report on the results!

CUSTOMER SNAPSHOT: Ryan and Erin Brown of Colorado Springs

ARE YOU FROM THE SPRINGS ORIGINALLY? (Ryan) Yes, in fact our kids are fifth generation Colorado Springs natives. We love the weather here. I guess we get bored easily! And of course it's nice having over 300 days of sunshine a year too.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN COMING TO RANCH FOODS DIRECT? (Ryan) Seven or 8 years at least. We probably shop twice a month on average. We also send tons of our clients here (they own Bark Busters Home Dog Training.) In fact, that's how we learned about the store: one of our clients told us this was a great place to buy bones for dogs, and we decided to check it out. Of course we picked up some people-food as well and we've been coming back ever since. Leona (the store manager at the time) told us to try the flat iron. That's the first thing we tried, and we were floored by how good it was. We've tried a lot of other things since then and it's all good, but we keep coming back to the flat iron. It's our must-have.   

OTHER FAVORITES? (Erin) The maple sausage. The ground beef. We get the skirt steak a lot. (Ryan) I like to make beef jerky sometimes, and when I do I use the London broil. When I bring it to family events, everybody's pretty excited.

SO YOU ALSO BUY PET FOOD HERE? (Ryan) Our dog Aspen (a lab mix) has been eating Ranch Foods Direct products all of her life! We got her at six weeks, and she's been on a raw food diet ever since.

DESCRIBE YOUR COOKING STYLE: (Erin) We eat pretty healthy and grill a lot. The other day I did a made-from-scratch breakfast pizza. I cut the potatoes really thin with a mandoline and put those down on a homemade crust for the first layer, then added maple sausage, lots of cheeze and scrambled eggs on top. I made a gravy with the sausage drippings, and we also had maple syrup on the side. The kids loved it! (Ryan) Another thing we do annually is that Erin makes a big traditional St. Patrick's Day dinner, complete with Ranch Foods Direct corned beef.

YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE PUBLIC MARKET PROJECT? (Erin) I'm very interested in it. I can't wait to check it out!
Now in store: Stephanie Saunders' home-made cookies