Over the weekend I toured the 63rd St. Farm in Boulder that grows produce and raises some animals as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). The small plot of produce (2 acres) feeds over 150 families per season. Their kale and Swiss chard was some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. As we walked around the farm, Amanda Scott, the owner of the farm, explained the entire process from seed to harvest and storage for the vegetables, and also the role that the animals play on the farm. The process is truly sustainable and incorporates the principles of Permaculture. While they don’t follow all of the requirements to obtain official certification as organic (which costs $10,000 to obtain), such as washing the greens in bleach water (yep, you read that right – bleach is considered organic), the process that they do follow makes logical sense and is pesticide-free and sanitary. I would gladly eat the greens grown at the 63rd St. Farm over bleach-washed, certified organic greens.
As a vegan, I was sad to learn that the pigs we were meeting would become someone’s dinner eventually. However, when Amanda described her reasons for butchering the animals themselves on the farm, the ceremony that they do to honor the animals to thank them for their lives, and the care that they take to ensure the last moments of the animals lives are not stressful and scary, I was touched that there are still people out there who respect the animals they raise. I could tell by the way she interacted with the animals and talked about them (and the measures they have taken to keep them safe and happy) that she does care about and honor the animals that she raises. Of course, there are still a hundred reasons I will never eat a pig, but it was evident the role that the animals play in the process of growing food for the community.
It was frustrating and devastating to hear Amanda's story of hardship when all of their crops were lost in the flood last year, and the lack of assistance they qualified for under the government programs. They received no aid, because they are not able to get insurance or support for their diverse crops that are rotated every year to keep the soil healthy, and grown to feed people (vs. to line the pockets of Big Ag and Big Food). Fortunately the local community came through and offered support so they could continue to operate this year and provide healthy food to their members.
I was amazed as Amanda described the mushroom house that is on the property. There is a lot about mushrooms that I did not know – including the fact that they are able to soak up toxic materials and convert them so they are no longer harmful. She described how the “mushroom guy” managed to use his mushroom starts to clean up a diesel spill. But try to explain this kind of solution to anyone in government and they just call you a crazy hippy. If only more people paid attention to the power and amazing capabilities of Mother Nature! They also set up a compost pile with tubes running through to warm water to 140 degrees without using any energy other than that naturally created by the composting process.
At the end of the day we enjoyed some delicious handmade pizza from the wood-fire oven built by Brian Scott, Amanda’s husband, who is a stonemason by trade. I was thrilled to hear that the weekly CSA pickup at the 63rd St. Farm is also a social event that includes pizza and wine and an opportunity for the members to interact. I left with even more of an appreciation for the local farmer (they do not have an easy life!), permaculture and the miracle of nature, and the passion for food that I share with not only the owners of the farm, but all of the individuals who were with us for the Slow Food event. I was so impressed and excited by what I saw at the 63rd St. Farm that the first thing I did when I got home was pull up the application for the 2015 CSA season. I’m looking forward to becoming a member, and watching them expand operations, including aquaponics and wine-making!