this week, for the small business series, i speak w eva teague who owns and runs plowshares community farm, a small-scale pig farm in niwot outside of boulder. eva and i have chicago connections and i kept running into her at the boulder farmer’s market where she sells her heritage berkshire pork. it is the best. what eva is doing –raising little pigs outdoors on organic, whole food until they’re big, happy ones and then offering this meat to the public– is so important. if you haven’t been living under a rock then you know about the food crisis going on and you know we definitely need farmers like eva.
jp and ramona and i took a visit out to the farm this summer to say hello to eva and her pigs. she told us all about the production, how she got into it, what her plan for the future are.
|| what is plowshares? ||
Plowshares Community Farm is my farm. Currently we produce pastured Berkshire pork products but we’ll we expanding and diversifying next year to include mixed vegetables and a few other things. It’ll be a huge leap! I think people get confused by the “Community” part of the name, but it basically means that I’ll always be producing for the local community. I don’t want to get so big that I have to sell through Whole Foods and won’t have the chance to meet the people buying my product.
|| how did you get into this? what was your inspiration? ||
I worked on vegetable farms in Boulder for three years before getting my first pigs. I wanted to start my own project, and the people who I worked for at the time were vegetarians so I chose pork in part because it wouldn’t compete with what they were doing. Plus, pigs are fun and funny, and well-raised pork is delicious!
|| what had the process been from conception to execution? ||
When people ask me how I got started I tell them that I bought some baby pigs and figured it out from there. Unlike farming vegetables, you don’t need a lot of equipment like a tractor to start raising pigs or most livestock–although I sure could use a tractor now to manage the 18 acres I’m currently leasing. I think the decision I made early on to raise heritage Berkshires rather than some of the hybrid breeds that are more readily available in this area was really important: I started with a focus on quality that I plan to maintain as I expand the farm.
|| has starting and running this business been what you expected? easier or harder? what have the challenges been? ||
I think anyone who’s started a business for the first time has probably had a similar experience: there’s so much you don’t even know you don’t know, and then you just have to figure things out: from where to get funding to how to do your books to how to manage the pasture your pigs are on. There are always problems to be solved which means there’s always some challenge to keep me busy!
On a different note, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many of my customers seek out my stand at market or even come out to the farm to buy pork in the winter. Their support means so much to me!
|| are you doing this solo or you have other partners/collaborators/helpers in the brand? ||
The business is mine but I’ve had a ton of help along the way, especially from my friend Mo McKenna. You’ll see her most Saturday mornings working with me at the Boulder Farmers’ Market.
|| who, if anyone, has helped w branding/website development/maintenance? ||
I made my own website using a Wix template. I came up with the idea for my logo–the happy pig in a green heart–and painted it on a banner that I hang at market. The digital version of the logo was created by Christopher Smith of “Tiny” (tiny house) documentary fame.
|| when did you start/open for business?||
I got my first baby pigs in March 2011 and started selling pork at the Boulder Farmers’ Market in August 2012.
|| where can your goods be purchased? ||
The best time to buy my pork is Saturdays at the Boulder Farmers’ Market: I bring the whole range of cuts to each market unless I’m out of something. We don’t have a regular storefront at the farm because I work a job in town and am gone a lot of the time, but if coming to the Boulder Market doesn’t work for you then you can contact me and set up a time to meet out at the farm.
|| what new/other businesses are you excited about in denver-area? or would you like to see in denver-area? ||
I’m especially proud of my best friend Jen Anderson-Tarver, who is an amazing home-birth midwife in the Denver area. I can’t imagine anyone else so gentle, knowledgeable, and caring as she is. Check out her practice at www.newleafmidwifery.com.
|| what’s your favorite place for food? ||
I work at a restaurant but try to cook at home when I can. I’m a little out of practice right now, but I hope to get back into the swing of it when I leave my job next spring to work on the farm full-time.
thanks, eva! readers, next time you need some pork, consider contacting eva to buy it directly from the farm. you’ll be supporting an incredibly local company that’s providing the best tasting pork you’ll ever have.
chef kelly whitaker and his crew at basta up in boulder are putting out some amazing food from their wood fire oven. this is certainly one of jp’s and my favorite restaurants. if you’re looking for some thoughtfully prepared and perfectly seasoned food that just makes you feel so so good and well-fed, next time you’re in boulder make this your spot for dinner. we had a feast the last time we were there — a little bit of everything. my go-to is the burrata and at least one of their pizzas. and then whatever chef whitaker recommends. ramona can be picky. she never turns down food here. i’m no food critic or writer so hopefully the photos can speak for themselves:
basta is open every day, 5:00 until 10:00. they serve a friday lunch from 11:30 until 2:30. chef whitaker is opening up a place down the street from the populist at 25th and larimer and we cannot wait to have him join the neighborhood.
though i’m married to a chef who has taught me a lot about the beauty of a home-cooked meal, i am not the best at putting together my own dishes. i am notorious for eating whatever is leftover in the fridge or subsisting on sandwiches (tuna, pb&j, egg salad, deli meat) and mac and cheese. this was all well and fine until ramona started eating more and more regular food and was getting sick of her purees and roasted sweet potatoes and i needed ideas of nutritious foods to give her that i could also enjoy eating. i was also gaining weight (after i had lost more than what i had put on while pregnant!). so something had to give. i needed ideas for small family meals (though ramona eats what i eat, i’m essentially cooking for one) that consisted of healthy, in-season whole foods.
in comes chef karolina, a fellow sakura bloom mama, who offered to let me try out her new meal plan service. i was so excited! each thursday, a meal plan arrives in my inbox. it gives me three dinners, one lunch, one breakfast, and one snack (or bonus) meal. the recipes are written plainly and clearly and there’s a complete and concise grocery shopping list in the back. hooray! also, each week focuses on one main ingredient and different ways to incorporate it into your food. the first week was asparagus then there was leafy greens, then garlic, then spinach. from this approach i’ve learned how to use up all my produce (i am so guilty of letting good stuff go rotten from not using it all up) and how to appreciate the versatility of these seasonal items.
there’s just the right amount of leftovers, interesting seasonings, and so far everything ramona loves every single dish i have offered her.
if you’re needing a little help figuring out what to make for yourself or your family (she’s got meal plans for singlets, larger families, pregnant women, and baby too!), please visit her website to find out more.
pictured above is her Farro Salad with Kale, Cherries, and Feta. i’d suggest doubling the recipe so you can have yummy leftovers. not sure if i was supposed to, but i ate this all in one sitting!
what you need:
- 1/2 cup farro
- 1 1/4 cups, chicken or veggie stock
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 lb kale, roughly chopped
- 1/4 lb cherries (dried or fresh, pitted and chopped)
- 1 T red wine vinegar
- ground pepper
- sea salt
- 2 oz feta cheese (can also use goat cheese)
what you do:
1. In a saucepan, put farro, stock, and 1 T oil bring to a boil.
2. Bring heat to a low setting and cover pan. Simmer for roughly 30 minutes or until done.
3. Meanwhile, heat 2 T of oil in a skillet. When oil is hot, add chopped kale and sprinkle with salt.
4. Turn down heat to medium hot and, while stirring frequently, cook the kale so it is almost crispy without burning. About 4-5 minutes. Set aside.
5. In a small bowl or jar, combine remainder of oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and whisk/shake.
6. When farro is done, combine it with the cooked kale, cherries, dressing and feta. Toss well and serve.
thanks, karolina! your food is so so scrumptious.
this week’s guest post is from jenny stockton. she reads, she bakes, she travels, she does lots of good for this world. she certainly seems quite wonderful! (we’ve never met but denver just keeps getting smaller and smaller: we do have some mutual friends.) go check her out. i especially love her discuss posts — thoughtful links to stuff worth knowing about.
if you ask me where i want go out to eat, chances are pretty good i’ll be suggesting any place that serves a big ass margarita and endless bowls of chips and salsas. that will be my request for my last meal. so when jenny came to me w an idea for a guest post that involved letting us all in on the secret of her favorite mexican restaurant, well, i couldn’t wait to see just how big those margaritas are.
I first ate at La Loma almost ten years ago, when some West Denver natives took me for dinner. I was volunteering with a youth organization, tutoring and mentoring teens, and the folks I was working with were intent on teaching me about all the best food the Westside had to offer.
One of my favorite things about La Loma is that it’s been around for so long, serving excellent authentic Mexican food. I’d even go so far as to say it’s the best Mexican food in Denver.
When my husband and I went for dinner recently, we had the honor of sharing the experience with my baby brother for the first time. By the end of the meal, the two were cracking each other (and themselves) up with jokes about how La Loma “is no Casa Bonita but…”
There are three main reasons to eat at La Loma: green chile, tortillas, and tequila.
If you are a tequila connoisseur (I am not), La Loma has something to offer you. If you are a margarita enjoyer (I am), you should probably get a medium and make your underage baby brother drive you home (I did). I like margaritas on the rocks with salt, and La Loma uses only “tequila reposado 100% de agave”, which means it’s aged no less than two months but no more than a year and is made with no glucose or fructose sugars. The margarita de la casa is the perfect balance of flavors – tart and citrusy without being too sweet or sugary.
The flour tortillas are made from scratch, which is really probably all you need to know.
Luckily, the green chile comes as a side option with a number of the dishes. I have been known to order a bowl of it with tortillas for my dinner. Either way, you really shouldn’t ever leave without having at least a spoonful (or dipping one of your tortillas in the bowl your brother got as a side with his chimichangas).
If you have room for dessert, the sopapillas are some of the best. They’re light and crispy, but soft and fluffy enough to fill with pockets of honey.
So the next time you find yourself in Denver craving good, authentic Mexican food, go to La Loma. You won’t be disappointed.
thanks, jenny! i’ll be trying to talk jp into margaritas and burritos for lunch today!