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RBR News | May 22, 2015

Posted in Ranch Report

Around the Ranch
Another wet week at the Ranch challenged our vegetable schedule yet again. We must wait for dryer conditions to use big equipment like a tractor or tiller in order to avoid soil compaction, which decreases porosity. Luckily, Harper and Christian were able to find enough of a break in the weather to make furrows and get the potatoes planted for the season!

Potatoes have historically been a large part of agriculture in the Roaring Fork Valley. In the early 1900’s an Irish immigrant named Thomas McClure settled in Carbondale and introduced a variety of potato that is now called the Red McClure. This potato became a favorite of local producers, as well as potato farmers in other major growing areas of the state. 

Over the years, potato varieties that were redder and had smaller, less pronounced dimples were selected over the Red McClure, which ultimately fell out of favor, nearly facing extinction. In 2010, members of the Roaring Fork chapter of the Slow Food movement searched for the variety that originated in  Carbondale. In September of that year, the Red McClure potato was added to the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, a group of over 200 foods that are deemed delicious, endangered, and worth fighting to protect.

The soils and climate of the Roaring Fork Valley are perfect for growing potatoes. It has been said that in the 1920’s the Roaring Fork Valley produced more potatoes than the entire state of Idaho! At this time, the town of Carbondale was exporting around 400 railroad cars of potatoes annually. By the 1930’s labor shortages and low potato prices essentially killed the potato industry in the valley.  

But today, potato growing fields are increasing in the valley. Rock Bottom Ranch planted and harvested the Red McClure potato last year in a block that was approximately 6000 square feet. From this, we yielded just under a ton (2000 lbs) of potatoes during our harvest. Other valley growers are putting potatoes back into the agricultural lands.  Woody Creek Distillers, pictured above, harvested roughly 1,000,000 lbs of potatoes in 2014. With additional acreage under cultivation, Woody Creek Distillers is hoping for 1.5 million pounds of harvest in 2015.  

In addition to the Red McClure potato, we are also experimenting with several varieties of fingerling potatoes this year.  With good weather and a little bit of luck, we hope to harvest the first new potatoes of the year around late July.  

Available Products
During this time of year, we only have a limited supply of products available for purchase at the Ranch, so we suggest calling ahead to confirm availability – 970.927.6760.

We now have a steady supply of our locally famous, pasture-raised, non-GMO, Animal Welfare Approved, delicious chicken eggs. 

Salad and arugula are available at the Ranch and for sale at Meat & Cheese Restaurant and Farm Shop in Aspen.  Silo Restaurant and town. in Carbondale also feature salad mix and arugula on their current menus.  

This week is the first harvest of deliciously tender baby kale.  Also available are limited amounts of bunched kale.  

A full pork inventory is available including chops, ribs, bacon, roasts, and several flavors of sausage.  

Products can be purchased at the Ranch during open hours, Monday – Friday 9AM – 5PM and Saturday 9AM – 5PM. Please call ahead to confirm availability or to place an order for pick-up.

~ Jason Smith, Rock Bottom Ranch Director

Rock Bottom Ranch is open Monday – Friday 9AM – 5PM and Saturday from 9AM – 1PM with free Farm Tours each day at 11AM. For questions about Rock Bottom Ranch please email Jason at jsmith@aspennature.org.