Customer Newsletter ยท August 13, 2018
"Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone  
or weary of life." --Rachel Carson    

Long-dreamed-of Garden of Eden continues to bear fruit

    From left, Glenn Austin shows Ranch Foods Direct owner Mike Callicrate the lush canopy of clover, alfalfa, vetch and mixed cover crops that keep the soil in his orchard dark, rich and moist, and explains how he grafts new trees onto old root stock. The fruit of his labor speaks for itself, especially when wife Toni bakes up cobbler for a family-style dinner. Below, the view through the tall front windows inside the Austin farmhouse.

When an evening shower casts a glowing arc of rainbow over the North Fork Valley, it's the perfect metaphor to describe how Glenn Austin feels about his comfortable country home with expansive front porch and tall picture windows, designed to take in the stunning view. This is his little piece of paradise, his pot-of-gold at the end of the rainbow.  
After growing up on a dairy farm in Tennessee and then working what he considers easier jobs as a miner and maintenance supervisor, he along with wife Toni gradually built an orchard, tree by tree, until it became one of the most recognizable sources of organically grown fruit in Colorado Springs. Every apricot, cherry, peach and apple is picked by hand and only regenerative farming practices are used. Now 74, Glenn is gradually passing on more of the work to his children and grandchildren, who are industrious about creating their own enterprises (Exhibit A: Austin Family Farms honey, which you can buy at Ranch Foods Direct.) He's also passing along respect for tradition and a profound sense of gratitude for nature's gifts. He often hunts up old abandoned apple trees and grafts them into his trellised rows. "I see opportunities with these old trees," he says, eyes twinkling. 
DID YOU KNOW? ... Austin Family Farms has been a supplier to Ranch Foods Direct since the company's early days. Their famous Western slope peaches are ripe and in-store NOW, along with other seasonal items.      

Another late summer favorite:
Peach Salsa    
There are countless variations on how to make peach salsa.
For a recipe from the Colorado Proud program, CLICK HERE. Eat local and help celebrate Colorado Proud month during August!     

New in-store: Cacao Chemistry chocolate!   
Since opening Cacao Chemistry in 2014 with partner Travis Ashing, Sam Lang has been raising the bar on locally made chocolates. A graduate of Johnson & Wales in Denver, she likes adding surprising savory notes to her confections, with clever ingredients like Spanish Iberico ham, English Maldon salt and locally made Axe and Oak whiskey.
Preferring to source locally whenever possible, she also procures many of the spices she uses from the Savory Spice Shop downtown, as well as fruit and herbs from Colorado growers. 
A select sample of Cacao Chemistry barks and bars can now be found in the produce case at Ranch Foods Direct. For more info, go to

Summer Recap
What we saw and heard at this year's
Slow Food Nations Festival in Denver   
Among the hundreds of vendors that lined Larimer Square for Slow Food's "Taste Marketplace" were several Ranch Foods Direct suppliers, including Eric Vierra, owner of The Good Jar, below. He recently introduced new pickled asparagus to his line-up (it's highly seasonal, in limited quantities only) but his best-selling item is still his dilly green beans. Pick up a jar at the store anytime!
Greg Gunthorp, Ranch Foods Direct's seasonal supplier of pastured turkeys, below left, appeared on a panel to discuss regenerative agriculture. The movement has been hurt by the decline of small meat processing plants and the rise of deceptive labeling by USDA, he said. Amazingly, due to a loophole in federal labeling laws, 75% of what gets sold as USA grassfed beef is actually imported from foreign countries!
Another thing we learned: not only has a new publishing team rekindled the Edible magazine franchise that serves Denver, Boulder and Ft. Collins, there was even more good news: Mundi Ross (shown below, with her husband, Casey, a partner in local The Axe and The Oak Distillery) is launching Edible Pikes Peak, with the first issue expected to arrive by this winter. The ambitious founder of the sumptuous Colorado Collective magazine is sure to take hyper-local food publishing to a colorful and story-packed new level!

How do we grow more farmers?
A new film takes a closer look    
The uplifting scenes in Graham Meriwether's new film, Farmers for America, clash with a sobering reality: high land costs and low prices are making it hard for the next generation to break into farming. Following a screening of the film at Ivywild School on July 18, a panel of family farm advocates urged the audience to buy local and buy direct from farmers whenever possible. "We need a fair market. I'm fighting for that," said Ranch Foods Direct owner and rancher Mike Callicrate, who appeared on the panel. 
He was joined by Nick Lewandowski, a policy specialist with Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (below, from left) and area farmer and Ranch Foods Direct supplier Will Frost. Filmmaker Graham Meriwether served as the moderator.   
Meriwether is already at work on his next film, which will explore how to meet the challenge of feeding the world with regenerative agricultural practices. It will likely contain video footage shot at Callicrate Cattle Co.  

Growing in sync with nature 

   Ranch Foods Direct retail manager Melissa Hahnenberger is currently enrolled in a six-month permaculture design course, "Through the Seasons," offered by Becky Elder, owner of Blue Planet Earthscapes. Here, Melissa, who maintains the demonstration garden at the Ranch Foods Direct retail store, shares some of the highlights of her experience so far. The course ends in October.

WHAT IS PERMACULTURE: Permaculture, short for "permanent agriculture," is a shift away from mono-cropping of annual crops toward growing perennials that naturally re-seed. Even though Melissa grew up gardening, she's learning principles that turn many common gardening assumptions upside down. The usefulness of raised beds, for example."You don't want raised garden beds. You're better off with a ground garden because it doesn't dry out as quickly," she says. Over-weeding is also discouraged. "Unless it is a true pest plant, don't pull it. Let the wildflowers go. The more biomass there is, the more moisture you'll be holding in your soil." Diversity of plants is beneficial, with legumes like beans and peas adding nitrogen back into the system. It's all about observing what works in natural systems and finding ways to apply it. 
HELPFUL RESOURCES: "Almost every community has a permaculture club, but it's like a little underground society: you don't know about it unless you're looking for it," she says. For beginners, she recommends Gaia's Garden, published by Chelsea Green. "It's very informative and covers all of the basics. From there, you can find lots more to explore." 
MOST INTERESTING GUEST LECTURER SHE HEARD DURING THE COURSE: Mike Essam, president of the Pikes Peak Mycological Society, a mushroom forager. 
FAVORITE PLANTS: Lemon balm and comfrey herbs; purple green beans; easy-to-grow cosmos flowers. And trees: "If I won the lottery, I'd spend it on trees."  
DID YOU KNOW? ... Melissa is available at the store most days to discuss various healthy soil amendments and other gardening supplies that are offered for sale at Ranch Foods Direct. Or ask any other sales associate. 

NOW THROUGH LABOR DAY WEEKEND: The store will remain open until 6 p.m. Saturdays for your shopping convenience.