Over at Cure Organic Farm in Boulder, Anne Cure gently nudges her daughter back to farm camp. It's hard, the mom says, to be a farmer's daughter. Actually, life doesn't seem too difficult for six-year-old Lauren as she coos over a tiny orange kitten, but eventually she puts the little thing down and moves on to more serious matters: helping her peers weed the children's garden, a plant-filled plot of dirt equipped with miniature tools ready for (mostly) eager hands.
"If they learn to plant here and now, maybe, just maybe, they'll plant tomatoes when they're in college," says Cure of her young students. She also offers paid internship programs for bigger kids (aka adults) who want to learn the ins and outs of farm life. The hope, she says, is to teach the skills needed for budding farmers to run their own property somewhere down the line.
As we wander from the group of dirt-laced elementary students, Cure points out the various attributes of her organic farm: the large pen housing about 375 laying hens, the two greenhouses and two hoop houses for early seedlings, and the strips of bright-green butter-crunch lettuce waiting to be harvested for the weekend farmers' markets and CSA boxes. Already the five-day-a-week farm stand on the property is stocked with that lettuce, as well as rows of bedding plants, tender greens, kale and other just-picked produce from the farm.
Cure Organic Farm started in 2005, a prospect that sprang to life when Cure was offered the opportunity to lease the land after working with other agricultural operations for years. A transplant from upstate New York, Cure first came to the area to go to school at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley. Like many before her, she fell in love with Colorado and decided to stay, eventually moving to Boulder. Now the farm comprises thirty acres spread across a combination of private property, land leased by Boulder County Open Space and the plot Cure's house is on.
"I just jumped right in, and somehow fifteen years has just passed," she says while touring the area. "Every year has had a growing curve."
Cure seeds, waters and harvests more than 100 different kinds of plants, including a combo of lettuces, four varieties of kale, eggplant, root vegetables and strawberries, all organic and all as fleeting as the seasons. Late June sees the last of the spring carrots, but sweet peppers have started to grow, and while the greens are going strong, they'll be outpaced by fennel and fresh herbs. Year ’round, Cure provides eggs from her chickens and pork from her herd of sixty heritage-breed pigs (a cross of Berkshire with mangalitsa).
"I love having a lot of variety of the same plant so people can taste the different flavor profiles," Cure says, gesturing toward the rows of Siberian and lacinato kale. Another way she maintains diversity is through partnerships with local farmers such as John Ellis, Ela Family Farms and RAS Farm.
Organic farming was the only option Cure ever considered. "I wanted to grow in the model best for enacting a healthy ecosystem with healthy crops," she says, adding that, yes, this includes weeding by hand, since no chemicals come near the farm. "It does take a fair amount of time and good record-keeping."
It also takes a lot of convincing officials that it's okay to have ducks near the napa cabbage and goats hanging out with pigs. It's that diversity of plants and animals that keeps the land healthy and going strong, says Cure, who relies on the ducks to fertilize, control bugs and "weed" different spots each week or so.
The vegetables, eggs and meats that result from Cure's planning and dedication can be found at the Boulder County and Union Station farmers' markets on Saturdays (Boulder starts at 8 a.m. and Denver at 9 a.m., and both run until 2 p.m.), and in Boulder on Wednesdays from 4 to 8 p.m. Then there's the farm stand, open every Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and weekends from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from May through December. Restaurants around town also utilize the farm's goods; you can usually find something from Cure being served at Beast + Bottle and Potager.
While Cure adores her chef clients and the markets, her real goal is to provide good food to families through the stand and CSA shares. When she started, the farm only had sixty CSA families, compared to 2019's 240 members. In the future, Cure dreams of switching almost entirely to CSA packages to provide great organic produce, meat and eggs to the community.
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