Newsletter – October 10th, 2016


This week you are getting: potatoes, garlic, onions, turnips, daikon radish, jalapeno & bell peppers, leeks, celery and broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower,

Fruit: This is your last delivery of apples and they are Golden Delicious. We are taking orders of boxes of apples for the Winter Shareholders ONLY. Call the above number & let me know how many you need. They will be delivered the first Wednesday of November with the first delivery of your Winter Share. There is a chance to get another box in Dec.

Winter Share: We still have Winter Shares available if you are still interested! Complete the Winter Storage Share Form 2016 and mail back to sign up.

Garlic Separation: We need to do this Sat. & Sun. at 10am. Call and make an appointment just in case of a cancellation.

Overview of 2016: Yet again, we had a cold wet spring. We would get four days of rain with one day off. We finally warmed up, crops were growing like mad and the farm just looked terrific when the hailstorm of the century hit us! Crops that were devastated were the cucumbers, green beans & melons of all types. Also hurt in the storm was the tomatoes, peppers, onions and potatoes. We were able to pick the remaining melons until there was nothing left. To our surprise, the eggplant, lemon cucumbers & summer squash recovered quite well! The benefit of the hailstorm; you got more greens than you have ever gotten in the past. But, it took five people 5 hours (per distribution day) to pick the spinach for you. We cannot do this when we have a normal summer and the normal amount of produce. Green beans, cucumbers, melons and tomatoes will always trump greens! How wonderful was it that the frost waited until we could pick the last planting of corn. It would have come on sooner, but the storm set it back by a couple of weeks.

With Kyle and Sam’s return to the farm the week after the storm; allowed us to plant kale, lettuce, spinach and more summer squash. These are all fast growing crops and you have been reaping the benefit of these crops this fall. We are still in awe of the amazing recovery this farm made! I told you the farm was resilient!

The CSA Adventure: CSA is a very hard thing to get used to! You have to learn to cook with what you have instead of what you want. Learning the Colorado seasons and when produce is actually harvested is new to half of you. You have to clean the produce yourself (which you should be doing anyway with your grocery store produce) and do your main grocery shopping after you get your big bag of goodies from the farm. But this is one of the cheapest ways to fill your family’s needs, eat more vegetables and improve your diet at the same time!!

This takes a lot of work & commitment to do what it takes to feed your family locally grown produce. Give this a chance. It takes two years to get used to getting your produce this way. The first year is the hardest. The second year is much easier because now you have the information you need on how to use the produce and take care of it from your first year. And if you were dissatisfied, please give CSA a chance with another farm. Every farm is different and each one is unique on what it grows and how they distribute produce. When you spend one dollar locally, it gets used 7 more times within your community! Don’t send your hard earned dollar to a “box store” that will send it to their corporate office out of state. Support local businesses (and people) by shopping at CSA’s, farmers markets and farm stands!

Goodbye and Thank you: Being the eternal optimists that farmers are: next year will be fantastic! We have to admit; we are exhausted and are greeting Mr. Winter with open arms (if he ever gets here!). It can be draining (emotionally) when you cannot control the most important input that controls your income (the weather). We cannot stress how much we have appreciated your support over the season and your patience with Mother Nature.

Feeding people is our passion. We are committed to providing the best tasting organic produce you have ever eaten. We have fed thousands of people and donated thousands of pounds of produce to people & communities around Northern Colorado throughout the years. We have never done anything so important or made us as happy. Thank you for being a part of this! We love you all and appreciate your support more than ever! We cannot exist without our Members; who happen to be the most passionate people about supporting local farming and eating organic produce. We are looking forward to being your farmers in 2017! Have a wonderful, restful winter and think of us when you pull out vegetables from the freezer!

Jerry, Jacquie, Kyle and Sam

Newsletter – October 3rd, 2016


Dear Farm Members.

This is week 17 of an 18 week season. You are getting Yukon Gold potatoes, garlic, yellow onion, yellow carrots, cabbage, squash, eggplant, anaheim & jalapeno peppers, spinach, lettuce, yellow & red tomatoes and corn. Just another fabulous day of distribution! Please enjoy!! If garlic or onions are getting ahead of you, they both freeze really well. Chop to the size of your choice, fill a freezer bag and throw in your freezer! It is as simple as that! To roast the hot peppers: simply place under your broiler or over your grill and turn every once in a while until the outside turns brown. Put into a heavy plastic bag and “sweat” until cool. Peel and place in a freezer bag and freeze or use fresh in salsas, soups, green chili or any Mexican recipe.

Fruit & Honey: This week you are getting apples and this is the last delivery for honey.

Volunteer Weekend for Garlic Separation: Jerry would like as many people as possible to come to the farm this weekend to help get the garlic separated for planting. We will do this for two hours on Saturday and Sunday starting at 10:00 am. No need to make an appointment; please just show up!

Returning Bags: It is vitally important to return all bags to your distributor over the next two weeks. We need to take an inventory and get reorders placed for next year. You will be receiving plastic bags the last two weeks and we do not want these bags back!

Farm Recovery: I would say the recovery has been miraculous! Wow! As bad as the hailstorm was, I didn’t think some of the root crops would recover and here we are, picking tomatoes and corn in October….no less!!! The variety of produce really has been great. We couldn’t have imagined a better turn out!

1925 to 1944: Lester Monroe moved to Greeley, Co in 1925. He married Margaret Brownfield, started a family and farmed a small acreage on the north side of town. Jerry Sr. remembers selling corn door to door; a “baker’s dozen” (13) for a penny in the early 1930’s. They ran a small farm stand at the street and sold to all the small grocery stores around the area (including Ft. Collins, but not Denver). There were no Safeway’s, King Soopers or Walmarts at that time. This is where everyone shopped for food in those days and everyone was eating our produce! Believe it or not, the Monroe’s were pushed out of town by development. With inheritance from Margaret’s side, they purchased the “Homeplace” east of LaSalle in 1936 and continued their farming adventure. Lester decided to start selling to a wholesaler in the Denver area near the railroad called Denargo Market. Because they had so much land (and three strapping boys to do the work) Lester decided to start a dairy in 1937. It wasn’t too long before WWII came knocking on their door and took Jerry Sr. right out of high school to Germany in 1944 &45. In 1946, Jerry Sr. finished high school, married Nadine Annen, moved to the farm to begin their life together and continued farming. Nadine was a 2nd grade teacher for 36 years. Jerry Sr. remembers filling a Model A Ford pickup with watermelon in the late 1940’s and selling the whole thing for a $1. He thinks there would have been around 10 watermelons in there!

Have a good week!

Jacquie & Jerry

Newsletter – September 26th, 2016


Dear Friends of the farm,

This week you are getting potatoes, yellow onions, carrots, broccoli, purple peppers, basil, yellow & red tomatoes, either butterhead or romaine lettuce and corn (the last picking).  And there is a possibility you will get either cabbage or cauliflower too.  This is a great week for distribution, enjoy!

Fruit:  Sorry folks, I have been lax on telling you what you are getting and from who for the last couple of weeks. Once I really didn’t know and the other time I completely forgot to mention it!  The pluots and peaches were from Rancho Durazno, the red and green pears were from First Fruit and the plums and pears were from Ela Family Farms. You will be getting apples for the rest of the season from Ela Family Farms as well.  This week you will receive Gala apples.

Tomato Picking:  Several of you have been asking about tomato picking and that will not happen this year.  Jerry tells me that the storm destroyed most of the tomatoes.  What was left has been ripening slowly and we have been giving them all to you each week.

Lost & Found:  Lost – when we put the yard games away this year we discovered we are missing two red bean bags and one tennis ball.  I do not plan on replacing these items so if you could check with your kids and return these items to your distributor, we would really appreciate it!  The bean bags were homemade to look like strawberries. Found – I have a plate, several bowls and utensils that were left behind.  I do not mind returning them.  Please call and let me know what you need and where to send it.  Thanks!

T-shirts:  Hurray!  We finally have them, (a little late I know) but they are here!!!  Thank you for supporting the fund that helps pay for the donated shares. Farmers do not get credit on their taxes for donating food.  It is a true donation of the heart and we feel this is an important part of being a farm.  We decided to sell the cookbooks, hats and t-shirts to help fund this instead of making a profit and sticking it in our pockets.  I love the look of these shirts and hope you do too! Enjoy them, wear them proudly knowing they are for a good cause and thank you for your support!

Braised chicken with root vegetables
(page 64 in cookbook )

1 T olive oil
1 bunch of kale
4 med. potatoes
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bunch turnips with greens
salt & pepper
2 springs of rosemary
3 large carrots
4-6 chicken pieces (thighs and legs)
2 cups dry white wine

Chop all greens, cube, half or quarter veggies. Cook garlic and rosemary in oil til fragrant.  Add veggies and greens to pot, season with salt & sauté for five min.  Season chicken with salt and pepper & set aside.  Add wine to veggies and reduce by one-third.  Put the chicken on top of the veggies, reduce heat to low, cover tightly with lid and cook until chicken is tender and juices run clear, app. 40 minutes.  Serve with crusty bread.

Newsletter – September 19th, 2016


Dear Friends,

This week you are getting white onions, garlic, carrots, radishes, red turnips, squash, anahiem peppers, sweet peppers, red and yellow tomatoes.

T-shirts: This was something I was really, really looking forward to. But this has turned into a real hassle!! The first printing of t-shirts turned out terrible! The colors were so washed out it didn’t even look like my logo. So I refused the order and returned the shirts. We then had to scramble to get new t-shirts printed before the harvest festival. Of course, something always goes wrong when you are in a hurry and the printer could only get a few t-shirts printed before there was an equipment breakdown. We should get the bulk of our order by the end of this week and we will send them to your DC next week.

The Festival: What a beautiful day we had; bright, sunny and warm! 209 members and 14 guests came by to visit and have some fun. The Stick Horse race went off without a horse coming up lame. The corn shucking contest was very exciting in both the kids and adult categories. Unfortunately, I got caught up with talking to members and completely forgot the pumpkin carrying contest! I’m sure sorry about that folks. For the Canning Contest Valerie Wilson took first place with her Corn Relish and Titiana Macduff got first place with her Prickly Pear jelly. Each will receive $25.

I think this year we had some of the best combinations of side dishes I have ever seen! The table just looked fantastic (and tasted sooooo good too)! Myrna would like to thank all the Master Grillers for hanging out with her and doing such a good job with keeping up with demand. A special thank you to Garrett Kumar for donating hotdogs and to Barb Granica who provided such beautiful 80th anniversary “farm” cakes. I can’t do this shin-dig without the help of Peg Lehr. She not only takes all the RSVP’s but does all the purchasing of the supplies and gets them to the farm. And to all the other volunteers who help make this day special: Thank you very much we really appreciate your help!

We have several utensils and bowls left behind. If you want it back, let me know where to send it!

Several of you brought gifts to Jerry and I and we feel this was such a thoughtful gesture and want to thank you for being so generous. (I was given the cutest thank you note yesterday from one of the kiddos. I thought you would enjoy seeing it too.)

1945 to 1955: There was a huge growth spurt for the Monroe’s during this time period. Jerry Sr. had returned from Germany and WWII. He was ready to work hard to make the farm grow and prosper. Did you know that all metal was taken for the war? Tractors were not being made at this time! So Lester would go to the salvage yard and purchase an old Chevy truck. He would then pay a local man to convert it into a tractor. Even with this, most of the farming was done by hand. They plowed and planted seed with the “tractor”, but weeding & harvesting, including picking dried corn for the cows… was all done by hand.

While Jerry Sr. was away, Lester had continued to sell produce to the local grocery stores and to Denargo Market (a wholesaler) in downtown Denver (just east of Coors Stadium). The Monroe’s ran a Jersey cow dairy from around 1937 until 1950. They decided on Jersey cows because the milk was richer & cream was thicker and therefore; more valuable. But by the 1950’s, people wanted less fat in their milk and the demand plummeted for the rich milk they produced.

One day while delivering produce to Stohl’s Market in north Greeley, Jerry Sr. was asked by a customer if they could come to the farm and get the same produce for a discount if they picked it themselves. This gave Jerry Sr. the idea to start a u-pick farm. He started his business around 1948 and ran the u-pick operation through the 1980’s. Jerry and I shut down the u-pick operation in 1992, the year before starting our CSA.

Hope everyone has a very bright and beautiful week!
Jerry, Kyle, Sam and Jacquie

Newsletter – September 12th, 2016


This week you are getting Yukon Gold potatoes, garlic, red onion, carrots, scarlet turnips, daikon radish, regular radishes, squash, peppers, yellow & red tomatoes and possibly some kale.

1960’s & 70’s: Jerry Sr. was running one of only a very few U-pick farms in Colorado at the time. (His Dad Lester ran the farm stand.) He grew a smaller selection of produce and would put an advertisement in the Classified Ads when something was ready to pick and give them a time frame on how long it would last. He specialized in pickling cucumbers (and the dill to go with it), green beans, watermelon, muskmelon, red beets and tomatoes. Jerry Sr. had folks coming as far as central Nebraska and Wyoming plus all the Coloradoans. Customers really looked forward to the tomatoes, but he was equally known for his pickles. Bushel of pickles (40#) sold for (app.) $5.00 and 25# box of tomatoes sold for $4.00. You could purchase the same thing under the farm stand for $5.00 more. He said many times people would pick upwards of 10 bushels!

Jerry Jr. was in high school and college during this period of time. His grandfather gave him a small piece of ground. Jerry planted tomatoes & sold them as a U-pick item to help pay for his college days at UNC. He also worked at the local feed lot or any other odd job he could pick up every afternoon/evenings and on weekends & holidays. He had long 10-15 hour days either working hard or studying hard in order to graduate debt free; which he did in 1980 with his Bachelor of Administration in Business. He wanted to be a manager of a business, a CEO or someday own his own business until he discovered the unpleasant office politics! After a few years messing with that, he decided being his own boss was going to be the best option for him and decided to go back to the farm. As the saying goes, “You can take the boy off the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the boy!”

It’s where his heart will always be.

Festival: The festival is this Sunday starting at 11am. You must check in as soon as you arrive. We need to know how many people are on the farm! We have a few volunteers, but not enough. If you plan on coming to the festival, don’t be surprised if we ask you to help out with something for a little bit. This will be the smallest festival we’ve had since the 1990’s! As sad as I am about the turnout, I am equally as excited! Jerry and I will be able to sit down and enjoy the festivities instead of running around as mad-men!! If you choose to come to the farm at the last minute, please do not eat a hot dog or hamburger because one will not be ordered for you. We still ask you bring a side dish so that you can enjoy a picnic lunch. Chili roasting will begin immediately and continue until there is nothing left to pick. Please check in at the chili roaster for a bucket and again to have the chili’s put in line for roasting & get a ticket for identification. It will cost $2 per person to have the chili’s roasted. Clean up will begin at 4pm sharp (or earlier if the weather gets weird or if everyone leaves early)! Anyone still around at that time will be asked to help break down tents, tables, etc. and help clean up.

This festival is our gift to you. It’s not cheap, it takes three weeks to prep for it and it is a big deal to us. We want everyone to come to the farm and see where your food comes from, to meet us and see this beautiful place. We do that by tempting you with activities. It is amazing how things have changed through the years. Just in our short 24 years as a CSA we have seen so much change in how food is perceived, grown and eaten. Did you know our CSA half share cost $300 in 1993 and today it is $475? Your share did not go up $15.00 a year, nor $10 but $7.29 a year. Such a small price to pay for such a rewarding benefit! And to thank you for being a member, we transform the farm for one day and have a fantastic festival to celebrate!

Have a great week!
Jerry, Kyle, Sam and Jacquie

Newsletter – September 5th, 2016


Dear Members,

This week you are getting potatoes, white onions, purple carrots, daikon radish, white turnips, eggplant, jalapeno peppers, bell or specialty sweet peppers, cabbage, tomatoes and corn. Fruit share will be getting getting pluots and peaches and anyone who ordered a box of peaches will be getting that, too.

Winter Share and Animals: Thank you for taking the short survey. Here are the results: out of 90 people surveyed; 60% wanted organic squash and 40% said not to purchase anything. 60% said not to purchase any dried beans and 40% said to purchase them. So….Jerry will purchase local, organic squash for November and December and not for January and February. He will not purchase any dried beans at all.

We are looking for a new distribution center (DC) in Boulder. I need someone there to help us unload the truck and be present for distribution. Time window of two hours is required, (preferably late afternoon/evening), but longer hours or hours that suit your CSA customers are fine. We need a garage at least the size of a single car because of cold weather. You get $100 discount for helping out. This is not difficult work, the members are so excited to see you & get their bags of produce and you get to choose your hours. Please call me if you need more info! If we cannot find a DC, you can go to Westminster or Longmont.

Here is the Winter Storage Share Form 2016. I will need this back by the end of September. Please mail to me with your check to pay the deposits. I will be offering shares outside the CSA at this time because pre-ordering occurred this past January/February. Call me if you have any questions, I am still not checking email but once every week or two.

Festival RSVP: This is our 80th Anniversary! Let’s celebrate in style by getting together on a beautiful day in September! Nothing speaks of a party without food. Hamburgers, hotdogs, drinks and your utensils will be provided. Why not boast a little and bring your best side dish.

Please continue to call or email Peg Lehr with your RSVP ( or 303-877-2554). We cannot figure out how much food, plates, forks etc. without these numbers. The festival is Sunday, September 18th from 11 to 4. The deadline is September 9th.

We will have U-pick hot peppers and raspberries (plus a few surprises in the barn). You will not be able to get a full bushel. Peppers will be roasted as full bushels and then divided equally into thirds or (quarters if necessary)! We will have hayrides to the pumpkin patch (Jerry will purchase organic pumpkins for the occasion). We plan on making a display from a 1990 festival with a picture of our family from that time period. You are welcome to have your picture taken with this display and a few murals will have been painted for picture taking as well. Other activities include face painting, corn shucking contest, stick horse races (Please bring your best steed. Prizes will be awarded for races and a grand prize for the best in class!) plus games on the front lawn. We hope to have a new game available where families compete by loading up dad with pumpkins and he tries to carry them to a finish line. The winner gets to keep all the pumpkins he can carry! Canning contest for jams/jellies, savory/sweet relishes and pickles. Let Peg know if you are bringing something to be judged. T-shirts and hats will be available (I hope) to purchase by the festival.

Several members have been so gracious to help with food expenses this year. One member of the farm is having a large sheet cake made to commemorate our 80th anniversary. If you decide to bring a dessert, I would say we only need gluten free. A second member has graciously offered to bring all the hotdogs and buns for the festival. Thank you in advance for your donations.

Mark your calendars to keep this day open. We plan on having a ton of fun!!!

Volunteers needed: The festival cannot run without all the extra hands that day. If you have not volunteered in the past, this is an excellent opportunity to invest some of your time into the farm! We still need Volunteers for the following: the Check-in Station, 4 Master Grillers, people to cut up produce, set up tents, tables and chairs, sevearl to rinse cookware & set under the serving table and resupply cut veggies & to refill drink containers, 4 to check on bathrooms and empty trashcans around the area, 5-6 people to run the canning booth and/or t-shirt booths.

Storm Follow-up: Please visit our Facebook page to stay on top of what is happening on the farm. Sam and Kyle have taken over the page, made it public and are going to post information & pictures as often as possible so you can see firsthand what is happening on the farm.

The farm is looking better these days (and doesn’t smell anymore!). We were impressed with how quickly the Patty Pan squash repaired and started producing again. The zucchini and straight neck squash have also repaired slightly and continued to produce a little. The third and fourth planting of squash wasn’t hurt as badly because the plants were smaller in size and the huge hailstones were far enough apart to not affect them as much. Eggplant is an extremely sturdy plant. Of everything, it didn’t get torn up as much. The hail did knock off most of the flowers though. But soon there were pretty violet flowers all over the plants again. You are getting all that the plant had produced before the storm. Time will tell if we get more later in the season. You are getting tomatoes from the 2nd and third planting. We stager the planting so you get a fresh supply of tomatoes all season. Plus, when there are too many ripening at a time, this gives us a chance to offer u-pick opportunities. We do not know at this time if there will be enough tomatoes to pick by the box this year. We will keep you informed! At lease we have a few for distribution and that is what really counts!! Your bell peppers and specialty sweet peppers were hurt badly and have not really come back at all. The plants look fine, but the peppers were crushed by hail. We are gleaning the fields for every possible pepper we can find. And as I have said before; all our root crops have survived and are looking well for both the summer and winter shares.

Our Insurance Policy: Did you know that we use the farmers markets as insurance for our CSA? We normally go to 9 farmers markets a week. After the storm, we quit all but one. (We estimate we lost 65% of our crop.) I still attend the farmers market in Boulder on Saturdays. We do this for two reasons: 1. Customers are more accepting of the damaged produce and 2. I get more money for my produce at this market.

We discovered a few years ago that we could not cut out all the farmers markets. The reason? We have so much production from Thursday through Sunday (when we don’t pick for members) it has to be picked and used somewhere. You see, we pick every day or the produce would be huge & uneatable. Over time, we discovered when we have a bad year and produce is in short supply, we can cut the farmers markets out and all the produce is saved and given out for distribution. We have had small hailstorms before, but our members very seldom felt the affect. We would lose a crop or two, but most fields could still produce something and be harvested for members.

What can you do to help us? Purchase a Winter Share! We would not survive this storm if we had to depend on farmers markets. But unlike other CSA’s, we put our members first and you always get the best the farm can offer (and all the leftovers from Thursday go to market). Most people walk away from my farmer’s market booth because of the dings, scars and bruises. If it was not for our CSA, we would be lost. Your insurance is the farmer’s markets, but our insurance is the CSA! This is what CSA is about: Support your farmer in the good years and the bad. And when you have an opportunity, support your community too. You can do that by donating your share when you go on vacation or business trips. Unfortunately, you are seeing the results of a very bad storm, but on those good years, (which happen more than not) you will get the bounty and all its glory!

Spicy Roasted Veggies
Serves 8

In a plastic re-sealable bag add:
¼ cup EVOO
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic salt
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion salt
4# root veggies, any kind
Cut all the veggies the same size and place in bag with oil & herbs. Bake on cookie sheet at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. Wonderful cold or hot!

Thank you very much for being so good to us!
Jacquie, Jerry, Kyle and Sam

Newsletter – August 30th, 2016


This week you are getting Yukon Gold potatoes, yellow onions, carrots, squash, eggplant, sweet peppers, hot peppers (jalapeno) and tomatoes.

Fruit Share Members: You are getting Santa Rosa plums from Ela Family Farms. First Fruit is having a bountiful season. They are offering a 20# box of peaches for $40. If you would like one, please call me no later than Thursday evening. When you call me, make sure you clearly state your name, your distribution center and how many boxes you would like to order. Because everyone has cell phones these days and the reception tends to be tricky out here; it wouldn’t hurt to repeat everything! First Fruit will need to start Friday picking peaches in order to have them here early Tuesday morning. He said I could call him as late as Friday evening with our final total…But anything after that would be difficult to include in the order.

The 1980’s: I would say this was a very exciting decade for the two of us. We married in 1984. I worked at a real estate title company and Jerry was working for the same place (that is where we met), but found out his heart was at the farm. He worked for his dad for the rest of the decade. I helped out after work and on weekends. I really didn’t have much choice in the matter; we lived in Eaton, had one car and Jerry took me to work & picked me up! I went where the car went. There always seemed to be something that didn’t get done by the end of the day and we had to go back to the farm.

Jerry’s grandfather & dad ran a U-pick farm since the mid 1950’s. Folks had the option to purchase crops at the farm stand under the shed or pick their own for a discount. By the 1980’s, people were not canning as much as they used to. They still came by to purchase smaller amounts from the farm stand, but that was slowing down too. Jerry started attending farm meetings about farmers markets. They were the rage back east and in California. Several were starting around the area and we wanted to be involved. Jerry was on the boards of two farmers markets; Ft. Collins (Sunday and Wednesday) and Boulder. We decided to attend three more in Cherry Creek, Cheyenne and Downtown Ft. Collins (on Saturday & a different organization).

This was the beginning of a new era for both small farmers and for customers alike. Farmers markets were way more convenient and there was a pretty good selection of produce. We called ourselves Monroe Homegrown Vegetables back then. Pretty much told our story right in the name. Jerry’s mom and dad ran the farm stand while we went to markets (Jerry’s brother and sisters pitched in too). They were successful, beyond our wildest dreams! But prices were very low because customers expected to get produce cheaper directly from the farmers than from grocery stores. We sold muskmelon 3 for $1.00, tomatoes 5 for $1.00, ¾ of a pound green beans for $1.00 and a 25# box of tomatoes went for $5.00. Everything went for a dollar; it was the most we could get! By the time the 1990’s came around, prices had jumped a little: muskmelon were 2 for a $1.00, tomatoes were 3 for a $1.00, green beans were $2.00 for ¾# and a 25 pound box went for $8 to $10. By the beginning of the 2000’s, prices had risen again: tomatoes were a dollar each, muskmelons were $1 to $3.00 each, green beans were $2.00 to $3.00 for ¾# and a 20 pound box of tomatoes went for $15. (Did you notice the size of the box just got smaller?) Today we get $3.00 a pound for tomatoes, muskmelons are $5.00 each on average, green beans are $4.00 a pound and a 20# box of tomatoes sells for $3 to $35.

Just to sum some things up and explain why we changed over the years: My problem with the farm stand was I had to be there from 7 am until dark, seven days a week. I could never leave the stand or leave the farm. We took over the farm in 1991 (I was not longer working in town by then) and after one year of running the farm stand ourselves, we closed the U-pick farm in 1992. We also decided to change our name since there was an explanation for what we did, “organic”. We became Monroe Organic Farms. We liked and appreciated the farmers markets, but whenever we had a weather related problem, no one seemed to care! They would just go to the next farm booth. We felt there had to be something out there that supported the individual farmer better. Besides, we were attending 14 farmers markets a week by then and they were just about killing us! I could not see how we could continue at that pace for the rest of our lives.

We started our CSA in 1993 (one of three at the time) with 38 members; and most of whom were working members! Back then, working members started the first week of April and finished the last week of October. I’m not exactly sure how we would have run the farm without them. These working members became our “Core-Group”. They were in charge of evaluating the farm shares and giving us their suggestions. The first year, we gave them way too much produce and everyone wanted to get a smaller share (which we did not provide)! I really didn’t know what the average family of four ate on a regular basis because I had just started mine (Alaina was born in 1989 and Kyle in 1991)! We told them we needed them to tell us what would be the perfect amount for the Half Share to feed a family of four with kids between the ages of 5 and 12. The second year, we gave out too little! It took us a total of five years of continual surveying to get the shares where they are today. Even so, we still adjust because so many people’s diets have changed over the years. So, when we do survey you, they are very important to complete!

Decades of Customers: In the last five years, Jerry, Kyle and I have run into people who have said they came to either Lester’s U-pick farm (Jerry’s grandfather) or Jerry Sr. U-pick farm as children. Jerry’s customer, Mary, came on a regular basis to his farmer’s market to purchase anywhere from 5 to 10 boxes of tomatoes a week. She did this for 15 years or more. Mary would buy them for everyone she knew. She spoke of coming to the farm in the 1950’s & 60’s. She passed away five years ago at the age of 90. Kyle ran into a woman this summer at his farmer’s market who said she had visited the farm when she was in her 20’s and knew Jerry Sr. He thought she was around 80 years old. And I had a gentlemen come to me at my market three years ago to inform me he knew the family farm and loved coming with his parents to pick tomatoes. One time, Jerry Sr. gave him his very own watermelon to eat. He said he never forgot that! I think he was in his mid-70’s. I can’t believe we are still running into people that knew the family farm from so many years ago. It warms my heart almost to melting!

Eggplant Dip (page 2 in our CSA cookbook)

1 medium eggplant, peeled & diced
½ tsp pepper
1 or 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 green onions, chopped (or chopped white onion)
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp tahini paste, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread eggplant and garlic on baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle with oil. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes. Remove skins on garlic and mash together with eggplant. Stir in the rest of the ingredients. (I like to cook the onion too and mash with the eggplant). Serve with crackers or veggies. Other alternatives available in cookbook.