Amy Kafka of Garden Sweet in Fort Collins has been farming since 2002 on leased land, growing a little bit of everything and introducing the strawberries for which she’s famous in 2003. Farming leased land leaves a farmer vulnerable. Losing the lease means loss of livelihood unless new land with water can be found quickly. I know of one farmer whose lease would not be renewed, and before she could move her years-long carefully tended asparagus bed, it was destroyed by a bulldozer even though she still had rights there. So owning the land, complete with water rights, is critical to long-term success.
Last year, a dream came true for Amy. She’d been looking for land for years, putting out feelers through everyone she knows, and finally found the acreage she needs. She purchased The Old Willox Farm on the north side of town at 719 Willox Lane between College and Shields with her recent partner Ryan Wilson. They spent 3 months fixing up the original farmhouse and began their organic farm in its new location. Still selling at farmers’ markets, Amy now has a farmstand on her property, selling her strawberries as well as the other produce she grows: green beans, cabbage, peppers and chiles, both slicing and pickling cucumbers, lettuces and other greens, melons, fresh herbs and zucchini plus zucchini flowers for stuffing. Her plans for the future include fruit trees, and an asparagus bed that will begin producing in quantity just a few years from now. The farmstand is open Tuesday through Sunday from noon to 6 pm, closed on Monday so they can catch up on farm chores. For those who want fresh local produce before the weekend, Amy is ready for you. Her organic strawberries are the freshest, ripened on the plants, with just picked flavor.
We all have recipes that use strawberries as a dessert, but try this delicious salad with wild salmon, both strawberries and blueberries, and walnuts. It provides loads of anti-oxidants, a large dose of omega-3 fatty acids with salmon and walnuts, and it’s absolutely beautiful. In springtime, I add blanched asparagus to the recipe.
Grilled Salmon Salad, serves 4
1 large head red leaf or butter lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
4 oz. fresh blueberries
12 good-sized strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup sliced thinly sliced red onion
1 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted in a dry pan to release the oils
½ red bell pepper, cut into medium dice or sliced 1/4″ wide
1 lb. wild salmon, seasoned, grilled the way you like it, broken into bite-sized pieces
1 small container of Feta cheese, crumbled
Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of salt, freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. honey
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ cup olive oil
Whisk the vinegar, mustard, garlic and honey with salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Slowly add the oil in a thin stream to create the emulsion. Taste and correct the seasonings, and toss with the salad ingredients.