Your Camino begins the moment you decide to go

Your Camino begins the moment you decide to go.


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The Butterfly of Happy Heart

Saturday, September 1

This is the name Bailey has bestowed on me, since I fly in and out of “service to the farm” this summer.  She and Dennis graciously invited me to work when I am in town/in the country, so I’ve been bouncing back and forth between the farm and France, the farm and Ouray, the farm and Vermont, and now the farm and Italy.  I leave on September 6 to lead a group of wonderful women in Italy for nearly three weeks, so the butterfly of Happy Heart might come back with an accent, but she will return.

And when I leave, though I always find fresh organic produce, I DO miss “my own” Happy Heart Farm, miss checking in with Bailey and Dennis (and getting a hug in the process!).  I miss counting and weighing the harvest with Trevor, miss seeing the other volunteers, interns and apprentices coming in from the fields to share a meal in the house.   I definitely miss returning late in the afternoon each week to pick up my share when I’m not in town, though my friends LOVE the opportunity to be the substitute member for a week or two.

Last Tuesday, working my shift in the morning, I counted 1115 lemon cucumbers . . . seriously!  And hundreds of slicing cucumbers, tomatoes, beets, weighing crates and crates of basil, potatoes, and other colorful veggies.  And here’s what I brought home with me!

The makings of pesto, caprese, tapenade, cucumber salad, chile rellenos and much, much more!

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All In The Family Of Things . . .

Saturday, July 21, 2012 – Cavendish, Vermont

Luscious color and taste at Londonderry (Vt.) Farmer’s Market

Today I went to the Londonderry Farmer’s Market in southeastern Vermont with my friend Anne, who is a weekly visitor.  At each booth, Anne introduced me as a friend from Colorado,  and I was proud to tell each of the booth/farm/bakery owners that I am a working shareholder at Happy Heart Farm in Fort Collins.  Immediately, the booth workers greeted me not as a guest at a Vermont market, but as part of a family of healthy food advocates.

On the way back to my retreat home in Cavendish, about 30 minutes from the Market, I thought back to two weeks ago, the last time I worked at Happy Heart before my trip east.  I always do feel part of a family on the Farm, and can see a picture in my mind, a picture of widening layers of family in this business of growing things.

First, Bailey and Dennis . . . our fearless leaders, and owners of the farm property.  Then there are the apprentices/interns . . . Justin, Trevor, Jake, and the others (sorry, I can’t remember all of your names!).  Spreading out the image are the volunteers and working members.  It takes a lot of people to make this work year after year.

The base gets even wider when I add the CSA members who show up every Tuesday with their bags to gather the week’s harvest.  These folks bring their children, from infants to teens.  They bring their friends, their parents, their grandparents and grandchildren.  The little kids play on the swings, climb on and over logs, squealing with delight brought on by the sheer joy of playing in the sunshine on a farm.  The adults greet one another, share recipes, joys, sorrows.  And they gather their weekly share in bags headed for their homes.

And perhaps the tiniest, mightiest crowd of family contributors to this delicious project are the ladybugs.  The Happy Heart farm workers released thousands (yes, thousands, I’m told) of the little red, black-spotted favorites to shore up those who had been munching tirelessly on aphids and other plant-eating insects.  When I weigh bins of spinach and basil, I see the beautiful little creatures riding on green leaves, making sure the crops are healthy for all of us.

“Announcing [our] place in the family of things” . . . the last line in Mary Oliver’s poem, “Wild Geese” and an image for all who create and maintain Happy Heart Farm.

I’ll miss my work and play at the farm while I’m in Vermont, but while I’m here,  I’ll become a family member of the local farmer’s markets. On August 21, I’ll slide back into my place in the Tuesday morning working shift at my home base farm and hope the ladybugs haven’t forgotten me.

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Filed under Farmer's Markets, Healthy food, Lady bugs, Organic farm, Vermont Life

Popeye’s Gift . . . An Abundance of Spinach!

June 12, 2012

Well, let’s try this again.  After writing the whole post last week, it disappeared.  Don’t you love it?

So . . . I missed a week of my dirt therapy at Happy Heart because of a death in my family, but I walked into the distribution building Tuesday, the 12th, to resume my favorite duties . . . weighing the harvest and preparing everything for the member pick-up on Tuesday afternoons.

As I entered the building, all I could see were the huge tubs that hold all the veggies, and I could see that the big crop this week was spinach!  106 pounds of spinach . . . and then the kale, chard, two rich and delicious smelling basil, piles of garlic scapes, a variety of lettuce heads and more.

Here and there among the leafy greens were our best garden friends, the lady bugs, doing their job, chomping aphids and other garden pests.  Lady bugs fill up their bellies (do they have bellies, actually?  I have no idea . . . ) so we can enjoy pesticide-free produce all season.  Of course they can’t do ALL the work, and sometimes we still have to carefully wash our shares when we get home.  But I love seeing these little red bodies around the farm.

I’ll miss my working shift for the next three weeks, and hope my friends will be able to pick up my share of vegetables for their own enjoyment while I’m gone.  July 11, I’ll be back at the scales, weighing, sorting, counting, and preparing for all of you to pick up your weekly share of green joy.



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Filed under food, Healthy food, Lady bugs, Northern Colorado CSA, Organic farm

First Membership Harvest . . .

May 29, 2012.  I’ve been gone from the farm for two weeks, because I was leading a group of women through Provence and Paris.  While I missed my “dirt therapy”, we visited four open-air weekly markets in Provence.  Sunday in L’Isle sur la Sorge, Tuesday in Gordes, Wednesday in St. Remy, and Thursday in Aix-en-Provence.  The fresh vegetable booths at the St. Remy market look like this:

St. Remy Market – Fresh Vegetables

and like this:

So while I missed digging in “my” own dirt, a wealth of fresh produce (and fresh FLOWERS!!!) presented themselves for our viewing enjoyment.

However, I was comforted coming back to Happy Heart, especially since this was the first week for member share distributions.  My job on Tuesdays during full season is to count and weigh all the picked offerings, divide them up for the shareholders, and write up the white board, as well as the little cards for the table.  2.88# carrots.  5 chard leaves.  1 head of lettuce.  1.45# of spinach . . . and so forth.

So for our first share, we were able to distribute five pounds if fresh, delicious, organic produce.  And here’s what it looked like . . .

Chive flowers, carrots, spring onions, garlic scapes, garlic leaves, walking onions (is that really what I remember?), and other yummy things.  Not only am I grateful to be back on the farm, eternally thankful for Bailey and Dennis and their decades of effort for the planet (I know, I’m getting maudlin here!), but I will be smiling a Cheshire cat smile after my dinner tonight, belly full of green and orange goodies from Happy Heart.

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Filed under food, Healthy food, Northern Colorado CSA, Organic farm

Sending Seedlings To Nursery School . . .

April 24, 2012.  I love transplanting from bitty seeds to toddler plants.  I think some of the volunteers prefer to work in the fields, somehow doing the more “earthy” work, and I’m grateful for them, because three hours scooting around on the ground makes this oldish person feel as though I’ve been beaten up . . . always for a good cause, of course!

But the meditation in the fields is matched by the meditation at the transplant tables . . . filling up the trays of cell-pots with plant material (how’s THAT, Trevor?), sticking my index finger deep into each cell, readying it for the baby plant.  Then lifting a row of sprouted seedlings up and out of their original incubator, separating them tenderly and tucking them into their individual planting cells, where they will stay for a bit more time.  We carefully make “diamonds” with our fingers, as Justin has taught us, and pat the soil down all around the stem of the seedling.  Then the ever-miraculous sloosh soaks each cell before the full tray (24, 48 or more cells for each tray) is carried carefully back to the seedling greenhouse.

It’s like watching your babies be born, and then graduating from bassinette to crib, before they are set out in the fields to begin crawling, walking, running to their full potential.  Nursery School will be next for these little stems and leaves.

Today’s transplant characters were tomatillos,  Anaheim peppers, Carmen tomatoes, and Viva Italia tomatoes.  I hope I got those right.  When I see the names on the seedling sticks, I whip out my archaic but trusty phone and text myself in my Notepad so I can remember half of what I do each week.

SO many tomatoes, and I rejoice when I think of all I will bring home with me in September and early October!  Yum!

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Filed under Healthy food, Northern Colorado CSA, Organic farm, Transplanting

Week Three – Sprouts, Water and Weeds

April 17, 2012. Today everyone worked out in the field, transplanting rows and rows of broccoli, Napa cabbage, red cabbage. I was already daydreaming about stir-fry and we’ve only just begun. But the summer goes so fast, and the growing rate here at Happy Heart seems to be extra-nurtured by all of us and our dedicated fingers, hands, thoughts, helping these plants become their best selves.

After transplanting comes sloosh, of course, that magic liquid filled with nutrients, made to kick-start the roots in their new home. From out of the seeding flats to the long rows of rich soil, warmed by the Colorado sun.

We moved the hoses to they lined up with the rows of transplants, and after one group placed the wire hoops along the rows, the rest of us lifted the long white cloth, settling it down over the rows of seedlings, protecting them from getting too hot before they grow big enough to take in all the elements.

A final hour of weeding tiny spinach plants and we were finished for the morning. As I walked back to my car, I wandered into the hoop house to gather salad greens for my dinner, still in awe of the color and abundance of the farm products already.

At the distribution shed, bins of cool chard, spinach and other greens awaited the volunteers, reminding us that our hard work reaps rewards every time we set foot on the farm ground.

Thank you, Bailey, Dennis, Justin, and everyone who keeps Happy Heart Farm healthy!

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