News and Blog
Vegetable garden cultivates sharing sense of community, grows along with the crops at Happy Heart Farm.
Bailey and Dennis Stenson put the culture back in agriculture. The Stensons own the Happy Heart Farm, which uses shareholders' money and labor to organically grow 36 varieties of vegetables for all to share. Happy Heart is one of 400 community supported agriculture projects nationwide and one of eight in Colorado.
"It's not just a glorified vegetable sale," said Bailey Stenson, who started farming 11 years ago when Dennis Stenson returned home from an errand and said, "Honey, I bought a farm." He had never farmed, either. The Happy Heart Farm is more than fresh vegetables. The farm doesn't sell to the public and isn't a you-pick-it vegetable patch. "The garden is the medium," said Dennis Stenson, explaining the biodynamics of growing, the great life cycle of plants, animals and humans and farm-centered economics.
Four mornings a week, sets of working shareholders hold hands in a circle to share thoughts on the 3-acre garden, how food comes from sun, water and soil. Shareholders pay $480 a year and working shareholders pay $240. For the next three hours, the workers plant seedlings, pull weeds or harvest - depending on the season. Stenson helps and talks softly about sustainable agriculture, herbal medicine and compost mixtures. "It's therapy, but you don't have to pay for it, and it always works," said Cindy Martinez, a working shareholder. "I have a big garden of my own, but I need the knowledge the Stensons give, too."
The Tuesday evening food pickup is a social event. The Stenson's three kids and the other children play on swings and chase around the grassy fields while parents talk about sustainable lifestyles and ways to preserve dozens of green peppers. "Mother Theresa said 'Loneliness is the greatest hunger in America,' " Bailey Stenson said. Dennis Stenson said CSA farming helps keep family farms in business and thus preserves open areas near cities.
Happy Heart Farm wants to offer milk, honey and other goods through exchanges with other farmers. A huge, white "A" on a foothill west of Fort Collins stands for Aggies, once Colorado State University's mascot. The letter is close to the Stensons' farm and they said the "A" stands for alternatives. The 10-acre farm with a large yellow house sits at the edge of the foothills.
Before opening the Happy Heart to shareholders, the Stensons mastered labor-intensive organic growing and started a few farmers markets. The road to utopia had a few unexpected potholes. The Happy Heart vision forgot raccoons, which claimed several corn crops. Stenson, a gentle man, gets angry about raccoons. Poison and hunting aren't organic options, but an elaborate triple strand electric fence is working. The Stensons own the farm, and the 1993 budget of $39,841 covered the farm's costs. The Stensons' consulting and speaking pays the family expenses. "You can't make a killing, but you can make a living," the Stensons tell those interested in community supported agriculture.
Originally published 5/18/94
Reprinted here with permission
by Deborah Frazier
Happy Spring Equinox. This is a time of transition. When the stillness of winter is breaking into the newness of spring. We see Mother Earth giving birth everywhere we look. Trees are budding, flowers are blooming. This is a great time to honor the things in your own life that you are giving life to.
Where are you spending your time, your thoughts, your energy? What do you desire to give more of yourself to? Equally, and sometimes more importantly, what do you need to let go of as we collectively let the winter pass?
We'll be taking time today to water the literal and figurative seeds that have been planted in our own lives. We hope that you can take time to do the same and wish you a spring that is full of life and newness. Happy Spring!!
Come one come all! To Happy Heart Farm's first ever collaborative farm dinner; HHF is teaming up with Jax Fish House and Odell's Brewing Co to create a deliciously locally crafted 5 course dinner. Tickets will be available at www.happyheartfriends.org; there will be a silent auction in conjunction with the event, with all proceeds going towards Friends of Happy Heart Farm's Feeding the Families program. Celebrate the harvest with good company & help feed low income families of Larimer County!
Please see Tomas Herrera's wonderful video, "Happy Thanksgiving From Happy Heart Farm" with Music by Michael Kirkpatrick. It's really wonderful!! Happy Thanksgiving!
I thought to give some thoughts on this last year, and on next year. I turned 65 on Oct. 18, it was a marvelous night for a MoonDance....Suddenly; amazingly, Bailey and I and You Shooting Star People;over time; over 30 year's Time, precisely;
As we're plum full of greens in our fridge, it's hard to imagine those long winter months that we cherish the summer pesto that unfreeze and grocery store greens. With all you can eat kale & chard each week at distribution, you could be putting away some leaves now to enjoy over those long winter months with too much grocery store food!! Here is a great video from the Universtiy of Maine Extension Program, with directions on how to freeze greens so they keep their nutrients, color, and flavor for winter stews & dishes.
Freeze Your Greens:
Monday working members and apprentices,
Remember, tonight we shift to the 5-8pm "seasonal" time slot, until Septembe or so.
Thanks! 6-9am; then 9-12am Tuesday, and 6-9am;9-12am on Thursday as well.
Also, for those of you that have hours to make up, Bailey will lead crews this week and next only,
6-9pm Thurs. evening and 9-12 am Saturday.
Thanks, Farmer D
We are very excited and busy in preparation for the first distribution of the 2013 season. It is our 30th year and so far we have been reaffirmed that every year of farming is distinct and unique from the last.
Vegetables that will be harvested for you this week-Spinach, lettuce, carrots, garlic greens, spring onions, lambsquarter(a wild edible, a cousin to quinoa).
The State of the Farm Address, by Farmer Dennis. We have coninued to conserve water even though the Spring snows brought much needed moisture. We now use almost 100% drip irrigation which has saved us up to 75% of the water that we have been using in the past when we used overhead sprinklers with a gas driven pump system. So far the ditch water(which carries water from the Poudre River) is dark but doesn't seem to have as much particulate mateer from the fires last year. To also conserve water, and save some weeding time,we are using several mulching systems. One is a cardboard and wood chip, "lasagne " style system that we are using in the hoop house and the bed just N.of there. The sceond system is using black plastic over 30 beds used to grow melons, cucumbers, summer and winter squash.
Here are a few details about distribution to keep in mind:
- Distribution location is Happy Heart Farm, 2820 West Elizabeth St on Tuesdays from 4-7 PM. Please be extra cautious when parking, and please follow the existing parking pattern. The entrance to the farm is in back of the main house, and can be reached by Kimball & West Plum St, off of W. Elizabeth St..
- Bring your own bags! We have paper bags here, but grocery tote bags are easier (& greener!) to use
- Please check your remaining balance and bring necessary payments. You can do this yourself on the website; under Membership Actions on the bottom right hand side of the main page click "check your status" you will be brought to a page to submit your email, and you will be sent a message telling you which share you are signed up for anf what remaining balance you have.
- You are welcome & invited to purchase other shares we offer here including fruit, berries, eggs, milk, bread, meat, and more to come. We are also happy to announce that we are accepting payments on balances through our PayPal account. Any purchase over $99 may be paid off in increments.
- All Happy Heart accessories will be available for sale at the first distribution; get yourself a stylish T-shirt, one of 2 options of wonderful cookbooks full of recipes and tips on how to cook with seasonal vegetables.
- Whenever you ride your bike to distribution, put your name in the raffle jar for a chance to win some monthly surprise goodies!
- If you can't make it to the distribution this week, you have several options: send a friend to pick it up, pay the $10 late pick up fee and you can come by Thursday at noon, or donate your share to those in need. Just give us a call and let us know which you'd prefer!
Sheep at Happy Heart- We have 13 lovely sheep at the farm this year, with a generous grant from Larimer Co. Lands Dept. We ask that touching the white netted fence.
Veggie 101! Is continuing monthly this season, the purpose is to teach members what to do with their share. We invite "seasoned" farm members to share their wisdom & tricks at a Tuesday evening distribution. A $50 farm credit will be given to all who participate. Please contact Bailey at 970-482-3448 or email@example.com if interested!
Happy Heart Farm's 30th Anniversary Celebration!
We hope that you have saved the date for Happy Heart Farm's 30th anniversary party, Saturday June 29, 6pm. We will be sending out more info. soon. We will need many volunteers to make this event a success!
Hi working members and volunteers!
Here's the chance many of you have been waiting for; we will offer another working member slot starting this week. Many of our working members we have yet to see this season....and it is now already 6 weeks into our working member season. Please RSVP as to which slot you are coming to this week, and for the remainder of the season. It's suddenly summer, we are behind in the field work, and we really need you to be on it with us now. Please come on time , ready to work with the proper work clothes, water, gloves, and a let's git 'er done attitude. Thanks to the core of you that have been coming all thru this spring!
Here's the schedule this week...Plese RSVP which 3 hour session you are on for.
Tuesday 6-9am(NEW this week!) or 9-12am
If you have the time and need to make up hours, Tuesday morning offers a total of a 6 hour block of 2 shifts, which you could consider. Other make up times may be made available as we see you this week. Talk to me about it.
We have had to turn some folks away for your working member slot; so if for whatever reason, if can't fulfill your contract with us as a working member, we need to know right away; this week. It's definitely time to put us at the the top of your prioity list.
Thanks again to the golden steady eddie's that have helped us so much so far. We look forward to seeing you all this week! Farm Time!!!!
Once again, because of the deep new snow, we won't have our working member/volunteer session tomorrow, May 2; 9-12am.
Sarting next week, our Monday session is changed to 4-7pm. Tuesday and Thursday sessions remain 9-12am.
Apprentices; yes;let's, if you can get here safely...Tessa; maybe a good day to do your college work instead? RSVP...
Thanks all. More May news coming soon. Stay warm!