Midsummer has me green with gardener’s envy. In the spring, when I plant my small backyard garden, I get starry-eyed over its potential greatness. Usually this Martha Stewart-like vision involves an imaginary (hand-woven, of course) bushel basket overflowing with a colorful mosaic of tasty veggies. But by August, reality has set in. Weeds and squash bugs multiply exponentially every time I turn around. My tomato plants lean from their pots, looking spindly and spent—and, if I’m not mistaken, more than a little resentful. Peter Piper would need about forty years in my garden to get his peck of pre-pickled peppers. Occasionally, I can (and do) blame the weather for my gardening failures, but the truth is, I don’t spend enough time at it. Apparently, a garden needs more than just sun and water to thrive. Go figure.
I’m never more envious than when I pass by On the Vine at Richmond Farms, the beautiful CSA on Horsetooth Road west of Shields Street. And, as this happens multiple times nearly every day, I wanted to stop in and find out how the real growers do it. Super-friendly farm owner Bob Miller was kind enough to take a break from his never-ending duties to give my sons and me a tour. Bob comes from a farming family and still owns his family farm near Wichita, Kansas. He and his wife bought the property on Richmond Drive in 2009 and had their first partial planting the next year. This year, they’re farming the entire property—and their neighbor’s, as well.
As he showed us around, Bob talked about the ups and downs of this year’s crop—what’s working, what wasn’t so successful, what he might do differently next year. But it’s evident that the successes far outweigh the failures. Rows of broccoli, onions, purple-blossomed beans, cucumbers, herbs, sunflowers, sweet corn buzzing with busy bees, a pumpkin patch worthy of Hagrid…all the garden bounty I dream about in March thriving under the sun of a warm August morning. It just goes to show what a dedicated farmer can do.
Bob follows organic farming practices and sells at the Larimer County Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings in downtown Fort Collins. But if you’re in the neighborhood, you can stop by the farm and buy on-site. While you’re there, get information about On the Vine’s CSA shares. They offer full, half, and working shares, with Friday pick-up at the farm.
If, like me, you have trouble mustering up sufficient veggie production from your backyard, don’t despair. The solution might be right around the corner at your local CSA farm.