The Beet Street Blog

‘Experience the Harvest Season at Miller Farms’ by Chelly Vitry

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Fall is in the air. Warm days and crisp nights make my mind wander toward thoughts of cider and baking pumpkin pie. The changing of the season always reminds me that it’s harvest season and that at the markets, the sweet fruits of summer are about to be replaced with brightly colored piles of beets, carrots, corn, squash, peppers, tomatoes, beans, cabbage, garlic and pumpkins.

A time of celebration, fall is when farmers finally see the product of their labors and reap the riches of their fields. The Harvest Festival began in English churches where produce was piled high and prayers of thanks are given. This quiet ritual was encouraged by local ministers to replace the pagan farm-based Harvest Suppers which were primarily an occasion of excessive drinking, eating, and dancing (sounds like more fun). 

Today, in celebration of the season, Platteville’s Miller Farms is hosting a Harvest Festival of their own, a fun family experience designed to bring you closer to nature and reacquaint you with Colorado’s agricultural heritage.
 
Colorado’s eastern plains are bursting with the products of our own local farmer’s efforts. But when we only see the end product – clean, dirt free and sanitized for our protection in uniform stacks at the grocery store, we don’t think about where our food comes from and what goes into growing it. Fall is the perfect time for a field trip to get some dirt on your shoes and meet the people who work to put green veggies and fresh, smooth fruit on your plate.

Miller Farms is a third generation family run farm, committed to keeping you connected to the land. They participate in 40 different farmer’s markets each week and offer a flexible and generous CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, bringing their locally grown produce directly to Front Range consumers. 

Their Harvest Festival is a great day out. It’s a chance to learn about farming and to see how a working farm operates. They have a corn maze, hay rides, fire trucks, tractor pulls, animals, chile roasting and best of all, a trip through 180 acres of ripe fields, where you can dig up your own potatoes, carrots and onions, choose squash and peppers, and pick your own perfect pumpkin. During October, every evening at dusk, the farm has a Haunted Hay Ride through the fields, complete with ghost stories, spooks and scary apparitions, finishing up with hot chocolate served around a bonfire.

When you bring your freshly dug up veggies home, weary from a day “working” and playing in the fields, plan a special harvest dinner using the fruits of your labor. Kind of like growing food in your garden, you will have a new respect for the humble carrots and beautiful squash on your counter. Freshly picked, they will have a depth and flavor that is somehow missing from the usual grocery store produce.

It’s a great way to gain a whole new appreciation for fall’s delicious flavors.       

Need an idea to use up all of that wonderful fall produce? Try this great soup – it’s smoky and delicious. Serve it with a salad and some crusty bread.   

Spiced Squash Soup

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Carrot, peeled and diced
1 Onion, diced
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 lb. Winter Squash, peeled and diced
1/2 lb. potato, peeled and diced
4 cups of Water
2 teaspoons of Worcestershire Sauce
Salt and Pepper
Sour Cream and Chives to Garnish

Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add carrots and onion, cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add chile powder, cumin and red pepper flakes. Saute 5 minutes. Add squash, potato and water. Simmer, covered about 30 minutes. When the squash is soft, puree the soup in batches in the blender. Add Worcestershire and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with sour cream and chives. Enjoy!

Miller Farms Harvest Festival is open everyday from 9 am – 6 pm and runs through November 24. Tickets are $15 per person, or $50 for a family of 4 with additional tickets just $10. Haunted Hay Ride tickets are $7 per person. Children under three are free for all events. Directions and information at www.Millerfarms.net         

Chelly Vitry writes the food blog, Rolling in Dough, and spends her time seeking out great local food experiences.  http://www.rollingindoughbaking.com

Beet Street’s Homegrown Blog

Inspired by the Harvest Season, and our upcoming Homegrown Fort Collins program, we will be featuring the Homegrown Blog for the next couple of weeks.  Look for daily stories, comments and recipies about community harvest, and cooking with local food.  We are opening this special edition of the Beet Street Blog to our community, and will feature a different guest blogger everyday.  Let’s celebrate the bounty of Northern Colorado!

Homegrown Fort Collins celebrates the harvest season and its contribution to community and local culture. The goal is to educate, celebrate, and enjoy food with a focus on local. The old adage, ‘you are what you eat,’ resonates stronger than a parent’s stern warning to their children. The harvest of a community in many ways reflects the essence of the community, and has been at the center of festivals throughout history. Beet Street’s Homegrown Fort Collins will help us take a closer look at what’s around and develop a stronger sense of place and appreciation for our local harvest.

For a full schedule of events, please visit Homegrown Fort Collins!

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