Tag Archives: history

Newsletter – October 3rd, 2016

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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 19th, 2016

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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

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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 – August 30th, 2016

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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.

Newsletter – August 23, 2016

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This week you are getting potatoes, red onion, garlic, carrots, cabbage, squash, specialty peppers, kale and tomatoes. The Full Shares will be getting broccoli. We do not have a lot of peppers due to the hail storm, so you will be getting different types. These specialty peppers are called lipstick. They come in red, green, yellow and orange, are very sweet and are good for cooking. Treat them as any other pepper. No fruit, but everyone will be getting honey that ordered it!

Going back in time to 1995-96: It was a wet, stormy spring and crops came on late. We planted our first asparagus field in 1993 (our very first year as a CSA) and expected our first crop this year. (Little did we know it would be three more years before seeing our first fat spears!) We added 120 laying hens, two goats, two calves, four piglets and a greenhouse to the farm. We had a “Barn Raising” event and around ten members showed up to help us erect the greenhouse. By the end of August, there was a small hailstorm. Crops were already set back by the cold, wet spring and this storm set them back farther and damaged the roof of the greenhouse. We did not expect most of the crops to come on until September and October. All the tomatoes in the greenhouse (no longer standing) went to farmers’ market. We had an early freeze on Sept 25th and were down to root crops and winter squash for the month of October.

The “Homeplace” (as we call the original farm where Jerry Sr. lives today) is a very small 21 acre farm where only about 15 acres are farmable. Jerry and I knew we could not grow our business with the amount of acreage we were farming. On March 1st 1996, Jerry and I expanded the farm by purchasing the place we live, work and play on today! This was the year of expansion and improvements for us and we invested a lot of time and money into the project. We purchased two used cold frames that year and Jerry planted lettuce and kale in one, the other held carrots, turnips and beets. The greenhouse needed a new plastic roof due to the hailstorm and a second “barn raising” occurred with five handy male members helping out. (It was planted with tomatoes again). The farm was 60 years old that year and we were asking all the PR types for tips and suggestions on what we should do to play it up. A harvest festival was suggested and we acted on that idea right away even though we have been getting together as a group at the end of the year since 1993 for a potluck. But this time we had a bicycle parade, I did face painting, we had a volley ball game and croquet tournament in the yard, a nephew performed a magic act and we had hayrides to the pumpkin patch; all happening under the 75 year old trees at the Homeplace.

1996 was probably the hardest year we endured yet. We had a hailstorm in early July and again in August. The hailstones were nickel size and it hailed for 10 minutes each time. Much to our dismay, we had another early freeze (Sept. 20th this time)! Two years in a row was excruciatingly painful! Now we have to get winter jobs to support our family. We asked members to dig deep and help us out by purchasing something new: a Winter Share.

Winter Shares looked very different than they do today. For $100 a member could receive 8 bushels of crops including carrots, onions, potatoes, corn, winter squash and anything else still remaining on the farm. Each household got to pick exactly what they wanted, how much of it and making any combination they wanted.

We had five to ten people get the Winter Share….my records are foggy here. Until we found a way to store the produce ourselves at the farm, the most people we ever got to purchase the share was 25. Today we serve 150 to 175 depending on the season.

Coming back to today: This summer (with the larger than golf ball size hail) is probably very close to being as destructive as the two hailstorms of 1996. It has been a long time since we have seen this kind of devastation! The biggest difference between now and then is: we were young, green, and had invested heavily in improvements. Jerry Sr. helped us by telling us what would continue to grow and produce and what to plow under and start over or forget for the season. (Much could be replanted in July, but not in August.) The early freeze cut off any recovery and production of so many plants. Is this starting to sound familiar?

It is cooling down already at night when we have gotten used to upper 60 degree temps in August for the last 18 years. A meteorologist once told us that we have 20 year cycles coinciding with cycles of the sun. Starting in 2010, we were supposed to start a cooling cycle. We did not see any changes until 2013 with the cooler spring, rainy month of May and torrential rains in September. Could we actually be seeing a cooling trend? Every May since then has been cold and rainy. This year has been fairly cool all summer with only a few very hot days. Normally we can feel fall starting to cool down our evenings in September….but I am feeling this already. All I can say is this is all very interesting to me!! Goodness! Does this mean I am getting old enough to be like my grandmother/grandfather and be able to recite weather through a historical setting? Yikes!! (What does this mean for global warming? Which I do believe is happening! We have already gone up a degree and a half around the world. Will this continue? Will the cool springs we are seeing right now continue?)

2016 Fees: All fees are due in full by September 1st for your vegetable, fruit and honey shares. We have always tried to make this CSA as easy as possible to pay for. We do not ask for 100% of your fees up front, which is how most CSA’s work across the US. We have divided your fees into three installments between the Membership Fee due early in the spring and your Produce Fees due on July 15th and September 1st. We go even farther by allowing some members to pay monthly now. If you cannot pay your fees in full at this time, please call me and let me know as soon as possible. We plan on discontinuing delivering shares for those customers who have not paid in full starting the week of September 4th.

Harvest Festival RSVP’s and Volunteers: What time is it? It is time to tell us if you plan on attending the festival! Please RSVP to Peg Lehr about volunteering or your attendance. Her contact info is wrdwrrior@comcast.net or 303-320-5706. The festival is September 18th from 11 to 4. She will need to know the number of adults, kids and guests and if anyone is a vegetarian and will want a Boca burger. (Guests will be charged $10 per person, three and under are free!) Anyone play an instrument or sing and wants to share that with us? We encourage even children to share their talents! I think everyone would love to see what you are learning! Mark your calendars now, so you do not plan anything else on top of this festive day!

Volunteers are needed to keep this day running smoothly. This is an excellent time to invest some of your time into the farm! Our Wish List: 8 people for the Check-in Station, 6-8 Master Grillers, 4 people to cut up produce, 8 to set up tents, tables and chairs, 6 to rinse cookware & set under the serving table and resupply cut veggies, 4 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.

Everyone has been so wonderful to us and has said the kindest things. We truly have the best CSA Members in the world. We cannot thank you enough! Have a great week.

Jacquie, Jerry, Kyle and Sam