Community Supported Agriculture at TCI Lane Ranch

Monday mornings start early, in a busy hum of activity to harvest and organize our weekly CSA shares.

A Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is a model that allows small farms to grow diversified vegetables, have some seasonal security, and provides an opportunity for local community members to receive the freshest local and seasonal produce possible.

It works like this: families or individuals sign up in the spring and agree to pay the farm a flat fee for the season, they pay upfront and then receive produce at regular intervals throughout the CSA season. Each CSA share is filled with different varieties of vegetables that the farm is harvesting at different times of year. In turn, the farmers are given a bit more security throughout the season; if the broccoli crop fails, there is none in the CSA shares, but farmers are not devastated by the economic loss. Additionally, a CSA model allows farmers to grow a greater variety of vegetables, not just “cash crops” like tomatoes or cucumbers. Rotating crops through the garden rather than growing the highest dollar value crop gives the soils have time to recuperate between heavy feeding crops, ensuring the garden stays healthy and fertile.

The CSA program at Roaring Gardens at TCI Lane Ranch provides weekly vegetables to twenty families. Each week, members receive seven to eleven different vegetables and herbs from the garden. The beginning of the season starts out with a lot of cool season crops - greens and herbs, and as things warm up the weekly haul swells to include heat lovers like tomatoes, cucumbers, and eggplants. The approaching fall will bring a bounty of squash, potatoes and onions to pull us through the winter.

Because of the greenhouse, Roaring Gardens is able to provide CSA shares from January through December, keeping families well fed deep into the Colorado winter, while the outdoor garden sleeps under the snow.

For now, recent rain is keeping the garden green and glorious, the July heat is ripening tomatoes and zucchini, and we are staying busy bringing in the harvest.

About the Author

Whitney Will is the Greenhouse and Garden Manager at TCI Lane Ranch. She grew up in vegetable garden from California to the Roaring Fork Valley and is delighted to be transplanted back to one. She loves cooking, biking to work, and old books.