Spring has sprung, which means that farms and farmers are gearing up for the short and intense growing season here in Colorado. For all of us non-farmers, this time of year should be a time to shop around for which farm to support through farm sharing programs, or CSA’s. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) systems are built on connecting people to the source of their food by directly linking the people who eat with the people who grow the food. Consumers must share the risks and rewards with their farmers and in doing so, operate on a seasonal and local schedule. Locavores should especially be excited about CSA’s—or Farm Shares— because they dramatically lessen the distance food travels from farm to plate. Essentially, by buying a “share” from a farm, you loan them money to hire workers or pay their bills before they have any harvests and you guarantee that farmland near you remains farmland.
Outlined below are five ultra-local Denver farm shares. What makes them ultra-local is the proximity of the farms to Denver. There are dozens of other farm share pick-up locations in and around Denver that are sourced from farms along the Front Range, Western Slope and eastern plains, but those are not included in this article.
Most of the farm shares described below offer volunteer hours or work-exchange discounts, if being more than just a shareholder suits you. CSA models revolve around community involvement and the farms who use those models always welcome their community members to help whenever and however they can.
Farm Yard CSA
Where: Pick-up in Washington Park
When: Every Thursday from 5-7 p.m. from June to mid-October
The Lowdown: Farm Yard is a collection of front and backyard plots which grow organic produce in the heart of Denver and distribute it each week of the summer in Wash Park. For Denverites, this may be the closest farm-to-table food around, and it boasts the added benefit of using water for cultivation rather than ornamental lawns. During the season, Farm Yard will offer a variety of produce like snap peas, cabbage, squash, herbs, lettuces, root vegetables, tomatoes and more. Farm Yard also offers an optional Fruit Share from August to October, from their partners in Hotchkiss, Ela Family Farms. For more information about this, let them know you are interested when purchasing your normal share. Because Farm Yard aims to reconnect people with the source of their food, they require all farm shareholders to volunteer four hours of their time between June and October with weeding, planting, coordinating pick-ups, or other help needed.
Shares and Costs: Full shares are $475 and half shares are $250.
- Sample Full Share: 3/4 pound snap peas, 1 bag of mixed lettuce, 1 head of cabbage, 1 bunch of carrots or beets, 1 squash, 2 pounds tomatoes, 1 pound eggplant, 1 pie pumpkin, green onion, herbs, bunch of swiss chard or cilantro, 2 zucchini, 2 cucumbers
Sign up for the program here.
GoFarm Local Food Shares
Where: Golden Mill, 1012 Ford Street, Golden or Centura Health, 760 Werner Drive, Golden
When: Tuesdays from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at both locations and additionally Wednesdays from 7:30-10 a.m. at Golden Mill
The Lowdown: Though the pick-up location for GoFarm is in Golden, much of the produce comes from Denver farms, including MicroFarms Colorado. MicroFarms is dedicated to transforming wasted urban lawns into bountiful gardens that people can eat from and offer anyone in Denver or the surrounding areas the opportunity and guidance to turn their lawn into a piece of the farm sharing community.
Shares and Costs: There are three produce options as well as Fruit and Egg shares, outlined below:
- Basic Produce Share: $412 for weekly pick-up, good for 2-4 people with 5-7 varietals. $220.42 for biweekly (every other week) pick-up.
- Basic Plus Produce Share: $618 weekly, $330.63 biweekly, same as Basic Share but with an additional 3-4 varieties
- Half Share: $247 weekly, $132.25 biweekly, half as much quantity as Basic Share, but still with 5-7 varietals, intended for 1-2 people.
- Fruit Share: $154.60 weekly, $82.71 biweekly
- Egg Share: $130.30 weekly, $68.80 biweekly
Sprout City Farms CSA
Where: Choose between 6700 East Virginia Avenue, Denver or 5620 West 14th Avenue, Lakewood
When: June 28-October 25, pick up on Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m.
The Lowdown: Sprout City Farms is designed around the mission to engage an entire community in the process of growing and sourcing their own food. They believe that creating local food systems in urban areas like Denver will help improve ecological and social conditions. Education and immersion are key aspects of their program, with cooking classes by chefs, informative demonstrations and family activities occurring weekly at the farm. When you become a shareholder, you also support their other programs that focus on bringing farming to communities and schools. They also offer a Sponsor share, which covers the cost of a season of produce for a family in need.
Shares and Costs: There are two pick-up locations for Sprout City Farms— Denver Green School Community Farm (DGS) and Mountair Park Community Farm (MAP) in Lakewood. Below are the details of what they offer:
- Veggie Share: DGS $425, MAP $375. 17 weeks of mixed produce
- Mushroom Share: $120 full share, 18 weeks of 5-ounce bags of mixed mushrooms, $60 half share (biweekly), provided by Mile High Fungi. Same price for both DGS and MAP
- Fruit Share: $150 for 11 weeks of fruit from Ela Family Farms in Hotchkiss, Colorado from August to October.
- Egg Share: $105 full share, $55 half share (biweekly), 18 weeks of a dozen mixed soy-free, vegetarian-fed, non-GMO, no-antibiotic, cage-free eggs. Same price for both DGS and MAP
- Coffee: $250 for 18 weeks of Danger Monkey coffee from Pablo’s Coffee. 12 ounces per week. Same price for DGS and MAP
- Organic Meat Share: only DGS, $205, 9 deliveries over 18 weeks (biweekly), with local, organic and fresh meat including chicken, pork, yak, goat and lamb. Each delivery consists of your choice of cuts up to a $20 value.
Sign up here.
Chatfield Farms CSA
Where: Farm and pick-up at Chatfield Botanic Gardens and pick-up at York Street location of Denver Botanic Gardens
When: Thursdays at Chatfield and Tuesdays at York Street, 4-7 p.m. from June to October
The Lowdown: In 2010, Denver Botanic Gardens created Chatfield Farms CSA with a grant from Kaiser Permanente, to promote healthy living options and local food sourcing in the Denver region. Chatfield Farms offers a significant discount in price for a full (and usually half, but those are sold out for this year) volunteer share, where a certain number of hours are worked on the farm at Chatfield and a reimbursement is given at the end of the season. They also have a Veterans Farm Program, where they encourage veterans to build job skills in farming and work in a relaxing atmosphere.
Shares and Costs: Full produce (mixed vegetables), Fruit, Egg and Mushroom shares are still available for this upcoming season, outlined below:
- Full Produce Share: $520, suitable for 3-4 people, approximately 24 weeks of produce. Volunteers will pay $320 (reimbursed after the season)
- Organic Fruit Share: $220, 11-12 weeks of fruit from mid-July to mid-October, including cherries, peaches, apples, plums and possibly pears, nectarines or apricots
- Egg Share: $120, 20 weeks of a dozen farm fresh, free-range, vegetarian fed eggs (sometimes duck eggs.)
- Mushroom Share: $130, each week there will be 5 ounces of fresh and dried mushrooms, provided by Mile High Fungi.
Sign up for one of the shares here.
Where: 9400 West Alameda Avenue, Lakewood
When: Pick-up at the farm on Saturdays starting in June from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
The Lowdown: Since 2013, Derek and Kamise Mullen have been dedicated to living a more sustainable lifestyle by growing items that can feed and support their family and their community. The farm itself is an old homestead on West Alameda and Garrison. Everitt Farms provides the shares as “market-style,” meaning the customer has the opportunity to choose which produce they pick-up, rather than a pre-arranged box. Throughout the season the farm usually produces beets, carrots, onions, garlic, kale, chard, lettuce, leeks, cabbage, potatoes, squash, tomatoes, tomatillos, hot peppers, eggplant, bell peppers and more. If you want to be more involved in the farm-to-table process, they offer Wednesday volunteer sessions, March 8 — October 1 from 11 a.m.— 3 p.m.
Shares and Costs: Instead of traditional full and half shares, Everitt provides options that may be more viable for someone who dines out frequently or uses less produce in general. Details outlined below:
- Full Vegetable Share: $400 for a weekly pick-up from June 10—October 7
- Four Pack: $100 for a punch-card that allows you to opt-in on four separate weeks of pick-ups.
- Day Pass: $25, good for one pick-up during the season.
For more information about their CSA and to sign up in advance, go here.