June Farmer Updates from Rock Bottom Ranch
June 29, 2022
June 8, 2022
June. A salad. Greens harvested fresh. Eaten on a porch. With friends, with coworkers. Lingering past our early farmer bedtimes. The sun washing the vibrant spring green with a golden glow. Celebration of the start of a summer. Each year I have farmed holds one of these memories, an accidental ritual that marks the beginning of the harvest season. May is a month of anticipation. We wait for grass to grow, for nights warm enough to plant out cold-sensitive crops, and for soils to heat up so growth can catch up with the lengthening days. We plan and prepare for markets and CSA and finish the last loose ends to ensure the season starts off on the right foot. The season starts in January, December even, with plans and spreadsheets and seed orders, and the first seedlings poking out of soil. Then the seasons shift in June, after a long mountain spring, after months of preparing and waiting and watching plants grow we get to take the first bites. Plants start growing overnight. It is salad season. It is market season. It is the best and busiest time of year.
— Mariah Foley, Agriculture Manager
Mixed Greens from Rock Bottom Ranch. Photo by Sarah Cherry.
Jess Burroughs (left) and Ariel Rittenhouse (right) with freshly harvested lettuce at the Aspen Farmers Market.
June 15, 2022
As a newcomer to the state of Colorado, this season has already been a trip. The spring felt long and cold. We had to continuously push back transplant dates, and even so we experienced a hard frost the last week of May that killed off quite a few of our recently transplanted tomatoes and cucumbers. Field germination took longer than seasons prior due to cooler soil temperatures. The spring wind proved to be a whole other challenge which blew one of our greenhouses entirely off its soil plot! Temperatures ranging from 70s during the day to 30s at night is certainly something I am not used to. Nor is the beautiful, yet harsh sunshine which I found out the hard way can sunburn plants! While experiencing all this I was wondering if it is simply just too harsh a climate here to grow anything at all.
Overnight, summer is here. No subtle warming of days, but suddenly we are in the thick of summer heat and dryness. The plants are loving it. Seemingly doubling their size every week, fruits blooming, leaves and vines reaching for the sun. I am reassured we will have a fruitful season, though farming always poses its challenges no matter where you are.
I am feeling grateful for the crew I work with, and to be able to do what I love most: grow vegetables and provide them to you all! The season is truly beginning as we harvest weekly for market and CSA. We have welcomed our agricultural stewards this past week who will be working and learning with us through the busiest part of the season. Now we maintain and grow along with the crops.
— Ariel Rittenhouse, Vegetable Production Crew Lead
Ariel Rittenhouse working in the Outdoor Production Garden at RBR.
June 22, 2022
A strawberry moon rises over the valley — luminous behind the smoke that tinges it a dusky orange. From our back porch on the farm, you can feel its pull, the energy from this solstice moon buzzes through all beings on the farm. That strong vibration of summer sinks a little deeper and we begin to accumulate the residue of long sticky sunsets — or is that dried sweat?
The fiery nature of summer brings us ultimate growth and abundance. It’s a time of expansion, blossoming, and becoming. This solstice reminds us to find ways to cool down and integrate restorative practices into our lives after long days of movement under the sun. In our dry, hot climate it’s important to hydrate and cool with mucilaginous plants like our milky and bitter lettuce. Both pleasing to the eye and disposition. Our farm has an abundance of cool leafy greens and somehow provides them right when we need it. A beautiful example of our coevolution with these vegetable friends, the need palpably mutual at this time of year.
Other cooling friends you’ll find at Rock Bottom Ranch might be a cucumber (naturally juicy and cooling) or a kohlrabi (a naturally sweet and restorative root). Maybe pair the two together with a salad and feel the heat retreat.
Check in with yourself throughout the season. Signs of being in summer balance are feeling cool and calm, driven, optimistic, passionate, taking breaks rather than pushing through. Signs of imbalance could be feeling hot and inflamed, hot-tempered, easily frustrated, overworked, allergic reactions, regular headaches, rashes, or acidic digestion. Be kind to yourself and find your restorative moments. Cheers to a happy, healthy summer!
— Jess Burroughs, Vegetable Apprentice
Jess Burroughs, Vegetable Production Apprentice, in the field in late April.
RBR Farmers and Educators gather to celebrate a birthday outside the Field Study Center.
June 29, 2022
Plump drops of rain make a gentle drumming noise on the canopy of the greenhouse as we harvest our very first tomatoes. There’s nothing quite like the sweet juice of a Sungold tomato dissolving under your tongue. Or seeing your friend’s face when she tries her first one. These late June moments on the farm are ones of becoming; becoming more in tune with the land we work on and more ourselves through the process. Learning, listening, growing — right alongside the ripening cucumbers and energetic calves.
The rain of the past few days has transported the farm into a liminal space of technicolor double rainbows and cloud fortresses that skirt the hills surrounding the ranch. Everything soaks up the water (including the weeds), but even they broadcast new hues of greens and yellows that make you blink twice. The summer heat and rain in this valley bring a deep nostalgia to my bones and provide a stunning background to the lessons and blessings of daily work here at RBR.
Our harvest days have begun to fill up a good portion of time and our weekly trip up to the Aspen market is a welcome change of pace. New friendly faces in the form of our ag stewards have arrived to help with the heavier workload. Camps are in full swing with the chorus of children’s laughter (and sometimes screams) intermingling with the bleats of the sheep. Soon freshly cut hay will be drying in the fields—a sure sign of peak summer and approaching July. It’s truly magic here on the farm and even more so that we get to share our vegetables each week at the market and in our CSA.
– Jess Burroughs, Vegetable Apprentice
Sungold tomatoes on the vine in our hoop house at RBR.
Oliver Simmering, Agriculture Apprentice, with our flock of sheep at RBR.
Learn more about Rock Bottom Ranch! We hope to see you soon for upcoming programs & events: