2016 Denver and Colorado Springs CSA SHARES AVAILABLE

E-mail Ahavahfarm@yahoo.com or call 719-233-7828 to sign up or for more information.

Colorado Springs and Denver CSA Shares Available NOW!

20 week CSA, June to October

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A Note About Our Eggs

What makes orange yolks that are the trade-mark of free-range hens?

The dark color of the yolk is due to the chickens' diet of bugs and greens - specifically carotenoids. In the summer our egg yolks turn dark orange and are beautiful. However, because it is winter, the chickens have very few bugs and virtually no greens (except what we give them in addition to their feed). Thus, our egg yolks are paler than usual. This doesn't mean they are lacking any nutritional content. In fact, companies like Egglands Best (yuck!) supplement their chicken feed with artificial ingredients to promote the darker color and thus fool their customers.

Let us be very clear: Our chickens roam our land all day long. They scratch and peck and have a fully 100% organic diet. We supplement with only 100% certified organic grain and they are as healthy as any birds you will ever see. Our chickens are beyond organic, well-loved, well-cared for and completely free-range with 40 acres+ to roam.

If you have any doubts about our chickens, we invite you to please come to our farm, pet and hold one of ours and most importantly see how well they are cared for.

Monday, February 22, 2016

CSA - It's About More Than Just the Food.

Why CSA?  Community Supported Agriculture is a way to support local, build community and eat healthier.  Community Supported Agriculture is a program that is both beneficial for the farmer, and for those who are enjoying the fresh produce and eggs.  Many people want the fresh, organic produce that comes from local farms.   They get excited about the idea of reducing their carbon footprint, supporting local agriculture and feeling healthier.  However, in order for this food to be available, in order for the farmer to return year after year to the market, the farmers need YOU!  Like any business, without loyal support, the business will fail. 

CSA programs help the small farmer in many ways including guaranteeing that they will be around from year to year and it allows the farmer to gain some front-loaded funds in order to purchase seed, tools and other supplies for the upcoming season.  During good seasons, the members receive a huge bountiful harvest, much more than what they paid for (our CSA members received 17-24% more produce last year!  And that was “one of the worst years in Colorado’s History”), and during down years, the farmer is supported through these tough times and the member can be assured that their produce was grown in a sustainable way and that other years will more than make up for this season. 

It is estimated that out of ten years there may be one down year, four average years and five bountiful years.  Of course, much of this depends on weather patterns etc., but the majority of it falls to the responsibility of the farmer.  Does the farmer plant extra “just in case?”  Does the farmer utilize hoop-houses and row-cover to protect from frosts, hail and wind?  Does the farmer utilize dry-land agriculture techniques to prepare for drought?  We do all of those things, so our potential for great seasons is much higher than many of the expectations. 

There are some greater reasons, to us, however, to be a part of a CSA.  Sure, you get to eat in season, learn new recipes and be healthier.  Sure you get to support the local food movement and feel good doing it, but there is something else about a CSA membership that goes beyond just the food.  To us, the most important aspect to joining a CSA is the people you meet and the community you develop as a member.  There are not many opportunities to meet like-minded individuals in such a neutral atmosphere as you do with a CSA program.  During the pick-up times most members hang around and chat. This time is spent meeting with the farmer and the other families that have the same values.  Volunteer days, discounts, eating in-season, experiencing new foods and recipes, classes and more are all perks of being a member of a CSA and worth every penny.  In addition, when CSA members volunteer, they get extra produce and more importantly, they get the feeling and satisfaction that comes with contributing to their food and to the local community in a very tangible way that is larger than themselves. 


In short, being a member of a CSA is an experience that the majority of people in this world will never experience, and it is something that can be exhilarating, rewarding and life-changing.  In the end, however, it's about what you make of it.  Can you get a CSA from a farm out in California?  Sure.  Can you get one from one far out on the other side of Colorado?  Sure.  But what do you gain if you don't get involved, learn the farm, share the dream, meet some great friends?  

Will you be joining a local CSA this year?  Will you support  our local agriculture?  Will you help the small farmer?  Will you meet other like-minded people and develop relationships and build an incredible community around yourself, all while eating and feeling better and being a part of something bigger than you?  

We hope so.  We know you will be happy you did!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The REAL Cost of Free-Range, Soy-Free, Organic Chicken Eggs

When you don't get government handouts, don't force-molt your hens, don't keep your hens in battery cages, don't mess with the hen's natural laying cycle by not using lights in the winter etc., but feed the  hens pure, organic feed while allowing them to roam the land free as a bird (pun intended), the real cost for eggs is much higher than you would expect.  According to David Robinson Simon, author of "Meatonomics" (2013), the real cost of organic eggs should be $13.00!  Our eggs? They are $7.00 per dozen, here's why...

Here's our own personal math for the cost of our eggs:


  • Cost of feed per week per hen...........$0.86 (2.1 lb per week X $0.41)
  • Eggs laid per week per hen..................2.96 (% productivity X 52 Weeks)
  • Number of hens to make a dozen...... 4.054
  • Cost of feed per dozen eggs...............$3.48 
  • Cost of egg carton..............................$0.33
  • Cost of Labels (2)...............................$0.30
  • Cost of utilities per dozen...................$0.16 ($350.00 per year / 52 weeks / 175 hens X 4.054)
  • Cost of hen houses per dozen.............$0.16 ($3500.00 / 10 years / 175 hens / 52 weeks X 4.054) 
  • Cost of hens per dozen........................$0.06 ($3.50 / 5 years / 52 weeks X 4.054) 
Total expenses per dozen eggs:  $5.32

Labor:  Each dozen takes about 17.5 minutes of labor.  If we sell our eggs for $6.00 per dozen, as some other farms do, we would be making $0.68 for those 17.5 minutes, or $2.33 per hour in labor! 

Keep in mind that there are a number of additional costs that did not go into the calculation here:   Things like rent / mortgage costs, miscellaneous costs like wood shavings, tools, loss of birds due to either sickness or predators, gas to deliver the eggs and pick up supplies, advertising costs etc.  The reality?  If we sell our eggs for $6.00 per dozen, we lose money.  

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

No-till is the ONLY Way to Go!

I read an incredible peer reviewed white paper the other  day.  It was on the impacts of no-till farming under arid conditions and the benefits to watershed hydrology.  The title of the article is "Conservation Tillage in Dryland Agriculture Impacts Watershed Hydrology" by Van Wie et. al. 2013 (Full reference below).  

What was particularly interesting to me about the article was the emphasis not just on no-till, but on the importance of this in arid conditions and locations.  Although the study was primarily in the Palouse region of Washington, the study related to myself as a farmer in the high-desert of Colorado; Colorado being one of the driest states in the country with abnormally high rates of evapotranspiration (evaporation from soil and transpiration from plants).  The article discusses that the utilization of no-till methods is a BMP (Best Management Practice) for soil management (Van Wie, et. al. 2013).  The benefits to the watershed, as found by the authors of the article were many.  

In addition to enhancing soil structure and biological activity in the soil, the authors found that less fertilization was required, there was less water runoff and therefore less pollution to watersheds and there was less need for irrigation, since the soil was now able to maintain a greater amount of water in the root zone - thus less pumping of water from the watershed was needed (Van Wie, et. al. 2013).  
By utilizing no-till there is less run-off of water, specifically in the winter months when rain falls on frozen soil and snow (Van Wie, et. al. 2013).  When this occurs, the water runs off and contributes to streamflow instead of infiltrating the soil.  This is due to lower soil temperatures in tilled soil vs. no-tilled soil (Van Wie, et. al. 2013).  By using the Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model, the team was able to determine an absolutely astonishing difference between the tilled and no-tilled fields when it came to soil infiltration vs. run-off.  The tilled soil generated a 66.0 mm of run-off during a 5 month period while the no-till soil generated a run-off of only .3 mm!  In other words, the soil that was not tilled held 220 times more water than tilled soil!  In addition to this staggering result, during run-off events such as high amounts of precipitation or snowmelt, while there were numerous events with tilled fields, there were zero observed events with the no-till fields (Van Wie, et. al. 2013)! 

Not only is there reduced to virtually zero amounts of run-off from the fields utilizing this BMP of not tilling their fields, but the moisture that is held in the soil is also dramatically increased and the amount of evaporation decreased to a an almost astonishing extent.  The results from the study were that the fields that were conventionally tilled had an average evaporation loss of 3 mm/day while the no-till fields had an average evaporation loss of .001 mm/day!  The tilled fields lost water at a rate of 3,000 times those that were not tilled (Van Wie, et. al. 2013)! 

Finally, in addition to the obvious benefits to the watershed and the environmental benefits to not tilling our soil, the increase in yields were also discussed by the authors:  21-26% increase in crop yields with no-tilled BMPs vs conventional tilling methods were found (Van Wie, et. al. 2013)!  

So here are the benefits to not tilling your soil in a nutshell:

  • Increased moisture held in the soil - reduced evaporation.
  • Decreased run-off and pollution, 
  • Increased infiltration of moisture particularly in the winter  months.
  • Decreased need for fertilization.
  • Decreased need to pump water and use precious resources.
  • Keeps the soil structure intact which reduces erosion.
  • Increased microbial activity in soil.
  • Greater amount of carbon sequestration.    
  • Increased crop yields of 21-26%!                                                                                                              Photo Credit: pnl.gov

The results of this study were astonishing to say the least.  At our farm we don't till our ground.  We have been aware of many of the benefits to not tilling our soil, but we had no idea of the extent to which these benefits were.  To learn that tilled soil evaporates water at a rate of 3,000 times that of soil that has not been tilled and to learn that no-till soil held 220 times more water than tilled soil are results that blew me away! 

Clearly, the science is obvious and the results are clear.  Tilling our soil is ruining our environment, creating smaller yields, and is contributing to over pumping of our precious water resources!  

Source:

Van Wie, J. B., Adam, J. C., & Ullman, J. L. (2013). Conservation tillage in dryland agriculture impacts watershed hydrology. Journal of Hydrology, 483, 26. doi:10.1016/j.jhydrol.2012.12.030