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Community-supported Mancos farms give buyers more options

Program allows buyers to purchase a share of the bounty
Lee-Ann Hill displays some of her organic produce from Laughing Wolf Farm at the Dolores Harvest Festival last fall. She is expanding her current community supportive agriculture program by working with Kestrel Farms, which is owned by Kathryn Fulton.

Montezuma County residents will have more options to buy food directly from Mancos farmers this year.

Two community-supported agriculture programs in the valley will offer the option to buy vegetables, flowers, herbs, eggs and meat locally.

Stubborn Farm and Burk Beef, the Wiley Carrot and Mountain Roots Produce are starting the Mancos Valley Community Supported Agriculture program.

Laughing Wolf Farm and Kestral Farm are also going to run a CSA program this summer.

Through these programs, buyers purchase a share of the produce for the season and can pick up their veggies and other products weekly.

“It really takes a lot of the pressure off financially,” said Lee-Ann Hill, who owns Laughing Wolf Farm.

Hill has run her CSA program for three years, but this is the first season she will be working with Kestrel Farm to help complement her offerings.

Many of farmers incur at least some debt at the beginning of the season buying supplies and this model helps reduce that, Kellie Pettyjohn explained. It also gives them a sense of security that they will see sales throughout the season.

The consumer can also see some savings.

“They are getting better deal than what they would get retail for this produce,” she said.

As a shareholder in the farm for a season, however you are also taking on some of the risk, that if the farm experiences a catastrophe, like a terrible hail storm, you aren’t refunded.

These multifarm CSA programs help reduce some of that risk, Pettyjohn said.

Both programs plan to be fairly small this summer offering about 20 shares each.

Mancos Valley CSA plans to offer eggs and meat in addition to vegetables for an additional fee. The farmers have seen strong demand for these products Burk Beef has a waiting list and eggs sell out quickly at farmers markets, said Mike Nolan owner of Mountain Roots Produce.

Laughing Wolf and Kestrel plan to offer flowers and some value added products like pesto to help their customers avoid being overwhelmed by produce.

Owners of both are interested in the direct connection to their customers that a CSA offers.

Pettyjohn sells wholesale through the Mancos-based Southwest Farm Fresh Cooperative, but missed the personal connection with customers.

“We’re going to try to make it communal,” she said.

Her CSA plans to start a private Facebook page where customers can share recipes.

The co-op, which is a separate venture, is also launching a CSA in Durango this year.

But Hill is not concerned about competition.

“I hope we really just build some momentum and build some attention,” she said.

More information about these programs can be found at http://laughingwolffarm.wix.com/laughingwolffarm and https://www.facebook.com/mancosvalleycsa.

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