"We shouldn’t ask: what does a person need to know or be able to do in order to fit into the existing social order? Instead we should ask: what lives in each person and what can be developed in him or her?"
– Philosopher Rudolph Steiner, founder of biodynamics and the Waldorf School model of education (sometimes described as "an unhurried and creative environment for learning")
Spreading real wealth
Manure giveaway helps school gardens thrive
Residential, community and school gardens across the city are all benefiting from the rich natural composted manure that Ranch Foods Direct distributes through the annual Poopapalooza event and by special arrangement.
SCHOOL GARDEN SUCCESS STORIES BLOSSOM
Since Scott Wilson (shown at left, above, with volunteers Holly Smith and Leslie Wirpsa) started managing the garden at District 11’s Galileo School of Arts and Science in February, more than 100 new beds have been added.
He and Christine Faith, an urban homesteader and former science teacher at the school, are meshing the garden project with the curriculum as well as with district food services and with a farmers’ market operated by the student garden club at the nearby Colorado Springs Senior Center.
Meanwhile, Jeremy Hackett (below) applies biodynamic practices to the garden at Mountain Song Community School, a D-11 charter where students interact with chickens, rabbits and dairy goats as well as plants. The school describes itself as "a relationship-based humanitarian education nurturing the body, mind and heart of every child" inspired by Waldorf School methods. (Photo below by Kirsten Young)
NEED MORE? Ranch Foods Direct hosted the annual "Poopapalooza" manure giveaway on Sept. 20. But there’s usually a tote of nature’s best fertilizer available at the store. Simply give them a call and let them know you’d like to come by and pick some up! (719) 473-2306
Hi Plains Dairy at Calhan is now producing a limited supply of rich, creamy yogurt cheese, made with fresh cow or goat milk and live cultures. DELICIOUS AND MADE FRESH, NO ARTIFICIAL FILLERS OR EXTRA SUGAR!
$4.75 for a 6-oz. container (or $4.95 for the goat-cheese version)
Fresh roasted chilies from the Arkansas Valley,
$4.59 per lb.
Project aims to pepper the town with mobile "tiny farms"
THE SCOOP: Talk about hyper-local. By next year, Ranch Foods Direct could be selling food items grown just a short walk away on a once-vacant plot nearby, the first of many such micro-farms that might eventually sprout city-wide.
Pikes Peak Small Farms, a new branch of Pikes Peak Urban Gardens (itself under the auspices of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation) is launching a plan to use a series of "tiny houses" – those small eco-cabins that have become increasingly trendy – combined with mobile chicken coops and low-cost but durable greenhouses to create a portable farm that can be dropped on any piece of land and "be up and producing within 30 days," according to project leader Craig McHugh (above, right.)
"I think it’s a great idea," says Ranch Foods Direct owner Mike Callicrate. "The current system of food production has failed. We have to do this, we have no choice. And we need to invest in this kind of concept, rather than putting our money on Wall Street. We’ve become too dependent on financial advisers to tell us what to do."
Several properties have already been identified where the first prototypes could emerge, including a patch of land north of Ranch Foods Direct on North Prospect.
"This could happen very quickly," says Larry Stebbins, above left, who is director of Pikes Peak Urban Gardens. "We could use that first location as a training center. We could have students living out there. Then eventually we could move that whole project and that idea to another farm."
The two think they will need to raise roughly $30,000 to launch their first model, but are looking into a number of different financial models.
Project leaders for Colorado Springs Public Market announced in September that a general agreement had been struck to move into the west side of the old Gazette printing complex at 30 S. Prospect by 2015. Ranch Foods Direct owner Mike Callicrate, who first floated the idea of establishing a public market more than two years ago, said many details are still being finalized. While he said Ranch Foods Direct expects to be an anchor tenant in the new facility, he added that doesn’t necessarily mean the meat plant will leave its current location at 2901 N. El Paso: "Our neighbors love us. They want us to stay." Stay tuned for more details as the project continues to unfold!
HOW HAS RANCH FOODS DIRECT CHANGED THE LOCAL FOOD SCENE?
"For one, they were the first go-to place for natural meats in the Colorado Springs area. Their products are incomparable. Not only that, but they provide so many benefits to the community. Poopapalooza? We live for that! We look forward to using the manure to supplement our soil. For a gardener, it’s a real premium item, and they make it available to everyone. I think what they are doing is right on."
–Arlene Hinton, Blue Skies Organics/market vendor
"Many in this community have contributed to a shift in the local food system. I think it’s always a collaboration. But I think Ranch Foods Direct, and especially Mike Callicrate, have brought awareness around local food issues and made it possible for institutions to buy local. He’s very vocal, and I think that’s good. There’s a place for diplomacy, but if we’re always holding back, we’re never shifting anything."
– Nanna Meyer, UCCS assistant professor of sports nutrition; Olympic nutrition consultant
"I find out about a lot of new businesses through the Ranch Foods Direct market because they sell so many cottage-type products. It’s also the first place where I heard about how to buy meat in bulk."
"Mike Callicrate is such a strong, vocal, knowledgeable advocate. His approach is what this community needs. It’s a wake-up call. He knows policy but is also involved at the grassroots level. He under-stands what growers need and what consumers want."
– Susan Gordon, farmer and manager of Venetucci Farm
"Ranch Foods Direct has put a local food source in front of every person’s face on a daily basis in many, many locations around town. It’s huge. If I see a restaurant that sources from Ranch Foods Direct, I know they care."
– Nicole Fetterhoff, manager, Colorado Farm and Art Market
"They offer meat that comes from cows that have been treated humanely and fed the right things to taste good. You can go see the meat, order the cuts you want, and they’ll cut it for you. I’m happy when I go into a restaurant and they have that little sign that they sell Ranch Foods Direct meat. It’s nice, too, that the schools now have an alternative."
-Debbie Lacey, speech therapist, local food enthusiast
"Now I actually do ask restaurants where they get their meat because I want to know it’s from a source that’s ethical. The leadership this organization has shown in the community is great, and it’s necessary, as a catalyst for starting a local food revolution. I believe solutions are always local."
– Nancy Fortuin, Urban gardener; military retiree;
Come in for your fall favorites including but not limited to pot roast, stew meat, soup bones and smoked hams, smoked on site!
PLEASE NOTE: As of mid-September, Ranch Foods Direct is no longer supplying meat to Bingo Burger at either location (Colorado Springs or Pueblo.)