Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Vicky Dorvee
Editorial@LHVC.com 

New season, new veggies, new CSA program at Kilt Farm

 

January 24, 2019

Courtesy photo

Michael Moss stands amongst a few of the 100 of types of vegetables Kilt Farm offers through its Community Supported Agriculture program.

Even while the land is just a field of dirt, Boulder County farmers who sell their crops to restaurants and markets, and who offer Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs) are plenty busy this time of year. It’s a big task getting prepared for the upcoming growing season.

Last year’s devastating hail storms led Michael Moss, owner of Kilt Farm, most visitable off of Oxford Road near the Diagonal HIghway, to re-examine his business plan, and especially what he was up against when it came to growing the farm’s CSA program. In that process, he identified the hurdles to attracting new members: the cost of membership, varying vegetable preferences, and the convenience that meal services and large grocers offer with home delivery.  

Then Moss came across Harvie, a nationwide online system that helps CSA farms to better tailor their connection with members. Harvie’s platform allows members to budget their costs, order the produce they fancy, and offers share pickups or deliveries. Kilt Farm is the first and only Colorado farm to partner with Harvie.

What’s compelling to consumers about Harvie is that rather than paying the total season cost up front, members can make a 25 percent deposit when they sign up, pay another 25 percent just before the season begins, and finish paying as the season progresses. Members are already starting to sign up for the next season, which starts in early June and runs through late October.

”Early sign-ups help us financially to get the farm up and running,” Moss said. “It’s even more poignant now with the government shut down. The USDA is shut down and the service agency is shut down, and those support small farmers and beginning farmers through loan programs, equipment and operational loans. As a small farmer who has had some challenges, it’s hard to go to a traditional banking institution, because I’m a little too risky for them. With these programs, we’re able to really build our farm business so that we can get traditional lending.“

The Harvie program also allows CSA members a huge amount of flexibility. Members indicate through the Harvie system what they prefer (ranking broccoli for instance on a scale of one to five) which tells the farm what members will be happy to have in their box and helps to determine what and how much to plant. Members can also order extras of what’s in season and put shares on hold when they go on vacation. Harvie also has a recipe database that makes it easy to come up with ideas for whatever is in season.

The ease of interfacing online also brings an entire farmer’s market to members, because they can order other local products like Firefly Coffee, Fair Farm eggs, Hazel Dell Mushrooms, and Moxie Bread while ordering their share.

With the new system, members receive an email about what is being harvested. Then they access their order page to customize their share, what extras they’d like in the box, and decide if they want to pick it up at the farm or would rather pay an additional $7 for home delivery in the farm’s refrigerated truck. Family shares are $40 per week and regular shares are $28 per week.

 

Rather than pulling customers away from other CSA programs, Moss said he sees implementing these improvements as a way to expand CSA memberships in general, making fresh local food more accessible to those who in the past have not signed up. Moss said between 30 and 50 percent of the farm’s crops are headed to private homes through the CSA program.

“My goal in changing the CSA program is to really lower the barrier to farm fresh food,” Moss said. “We consider our food to be some of the highest quality food because of how we grow, how we manage the soil and feed the plants. You can walk through our fields and it’s hard to find any pests or disease because our plants are so healthy. In turn, people are getting the nutrition they need to stay well and be active.”

Moss leases land from Boulder County Parks and Open Space at two locations - seven acres just off the Diagonal and another 23 acres on Jay Road. The Niwot property is a certified organic farm, and after inspection this year, the Gunbarrel property will also be certified, Moss said. Kilt Farm employees 15 part and full-time employees along with as  many volunteers as possible in the height of the season. Volunteers reap the benefit of shares for their hard work.

Forty-five types of vegetables are grown on the farm. Within those types, the farm will grow multiple varieties, resulting in over 100 types of vegetables. This year’s new crops include artichokes and ginger.

“You think about a squash seed and the explosion of life one seed brings. That is incredible and at times I’m overwhelmed by the beauty and the magic of growing food,” Moss said.

To learn more, visit http://www.KiltFarm.com or call 970-846-6233.They also schedule tours and will be holding community events throughout the season.

 

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