Summer Solstice, Rain and Cover Crops

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RAIN!!! A storm rolled through last weekend that brought cloud cover, lower temps and overnight rain during the early hours of Sunday. Aaaahhhhh, it's hard to put to words just how refreshing and calming it felt to hear rain drops falling on the roof... and to feel thick humid air. I think this storm brought the most moisture we have seen since August... August! Needless to say, we feel temporarily rebooted and I sense the farm feels the same. 

Today is the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the kickoff to Summer! What better way to spend it than outside, weeding the many crops that will feed us throughout the Summer, Fall and Winter months.

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Mike seeded a cover crop of oats a couple weeks ago, they're up and LOVED the rainfall. It's pretty amazing how quickly things grow this time of the year. We check them every other day or so, and each time I'm so surprised by how much they have grown. Same goes with the potato field!   


Mike wrote a piece for Edible Southwest this spring on farming in a drought year, suicide, and how to help. Please take a moment to read this. We need to be taking care of our farmers and ranchers, especially on years like this one that bring additional challenges. 


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In other news... I spotted a few cherry tomatoes starting to ripen in one of the Moveable Tunnels?! Tomatoes ripening in June is not a normal thing at our farm as we do not provide any supplemental heat in our greenhouses. We transplant the tomatoes in these houses once we see a pretty clear window without deep frosts in the forecast. Then we row cover them in the evenings to protect from cool temps and light frosts until they're ready to be trellised.  This spring has brought us much warmer than normal day and evening temperatures and so much sunshine. This allowed us to transplant the tomatoes a bit earlier than normal. So... fingers crossed we have an early and strong tomato season! We'll keep you posted. 

CSA Members! We want to THANK YOU for your incredible support, encouragement and kindness this season. Everything from sweet emails, hugs, pastries and just sincerely asking 'how are you guys doing?' reminds us how lucky we are that we get to do this work. We get to grow produce for YOU to nourish yourselves and your families and friends. Thank you for being a part of our CSA Community this season and making the commitment to support our farm and to eat locally grown produce. We're in this together, and it feels good. Thank you! 

Now... on to weeding! Because if there's anything that loves a good rain it's the weeds. 

Have a beautiful day! 

Your Farmers, 
Mindy and Mike

Wildfires, Heatwave and Hoping for Rain

View of the Burro Fire (left) and 416 Fire (right) smoke plumes on Friday from the farm

View of the Burro Fire (left) and 416 Fire (right) smoke plumes on Friday from the farm

Mike and were in the field on Friday, he was weeding brassicas and I was prepping a block of beds for our next seeding of greens. As farmers, we spend a lot of time looking down while we work. We look down at the plants and the soil while we weed, seed, harvest, etc. Sometimes I catch myself doing this while the most incredible sunset is happening behind me or when a big storm cloud is building in the distance. On Friday we were doing just that when I heard Mike shout my name and point in the distance. I stopped what I was doing and looked up to see a second fire had started in the distance (the Burro Fire).

Daily we watch the skyline start out hazy and calm and as the day goes the plumes of smoke from these wildfires grow. We have had some smokey moments at the farm, but nothing like what our neighbors are facing in Durango. We're sending our love and prayers to everybody affected and we're so grateful for the men and women battling these wildfires. Please be safe out there!! And COME ON RAIN! 

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The crops we have growing at the farm are looking good and Mike and I are starting to feel, do I dare say, caught up!? Those are not words we normally say at the farm in June but we're feeling good and fairly top of things.

We spent Monday morning weeding and hilling the potatoes. Grow spuds grow!

And, the greenhouses are weeded! I'll be honest... on Friday you could barely see the peppers the pigweed was so tall but now they have some breathing room.

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The tomatoes are all freshly pruned and trellised! They're flowering like crazy and beginning to set fruit. It won't be long now! I'm hoping in a month or so we'll start to see cherry tomatoes ripening, and can hardly wait. 

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The onion block makes me happy! Onions are one of my favorite crops to grow, and for so many reasons. I love that they're the first thing we seed each year (these were seeded early February). I love how well they store and that we're still eating red onions from last season's harvest. And I think I secretly love that we need to stay on top of the weeds for them to produce, which makes the beds very aesthetically pleasing to look at. We're growing three onion varieties this season - Sweet Walla Wallas, a yellow storage onion and a red storage onion. Fingers crossed they keep looking great and size up well this season!

Ok... enough rambling! It's time to make a game plan and get outside. Have a wonderful day! 

Weeding, Crimping and Harvest... oh my!

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The days are long and the the weeks are suddenly flying by. The second CSA Harvest for the 2018 season is complete and I'm excited to see our Telluride CSA Members today and look forward to seeing our Mancos CSA Members tomorrow! 

The main focus this week has been seeding, weeding and irrigation! The block of roots Mike seeded last week has germinated (wahoo!) and we seeded the beans, zucchini and winter squash a few days ago. These big seeds are all swelling and beginning to tail so they'll be up and growing quick in no time!

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Weeds... they're so interesting. They come up stronger in different parts of the field but most of the crops need a couple good rounds of weeding before they're big enough to compete and shade out the weeds. So, we're cruising through the field, tackling the weeds one section at a time. 

Mike is the irrigation master at our farm... I really only check or touch the irrigation when he's off the farm at meetings or running errands. It is a great skill set he has and it takes a whole mental load off of me knowing he's always checking the soil moisture and determining when to irrigate next. And it's definitely better for everyone because I am known to 'under water' crops... some things can handle that but others not so much. So.... the veggies are thriving because Mike keeps them all watered!

The most exciting thing that happened this week... our Roller Crimper arrived! We make a couple farm purchases every spring. Purchases that we feel are going to help us farm better and smarter! This Spring we purchased a Roller Crimper from I & J Manufacturing in Pennsylvania. What is it we plan to do with this new shiny piece of equipment... improve soil health! 

We have a lot to learn when it comes to roller crimping but the idea is to grow stands of soil building cover crops to a particular stage and then to drive through the field pulling the roller crimper with the tractor to terminate and flatten the cover crop (crimp) and lay it down as a big layer of mulch. We can then come through with another cover crop using a no-till drill, which we are fortunate to be able to rent from the High Desert Conservation District, and seed the next cover crop. This will help us reduce tillage in the field, keep the soil covered, hopefully reduce weed pressure and water usage... the list goes on and on. Wahoo! IT'S ALL ABOUT THE SOIL! Mike and I are always discussing how best to care of our soil in our High Desert Climate and we feel this is the next step for our farm. 

We applied for a grant from Western SARE to do a 3 year study on Roller Crimping and Strip-Tilling with our vegetable production and found out they approved and awarded the grant earlier this spring. We will share the details and more information on this next week!

CSA Harvest - Week #1

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And just like that... harvest season is underway! The veggies are ahead of schedule, probably due to all the sunshine and warm temps this spring. Normally we're pacing around, worried if certain crops will be ready for the first CSA Harvest so when we noticed things were ready ahead of time we were pleasantly surprised and decided we needed to start the CSA a week early.

The first CSA Harvest of the 2018 season is complete and included the following: Carrots, Salad Greens Arugula, Baby Kale, Snow Peas, Radishes, Mustard Greens and Green Garlic.

It was so great to see all of our wonderful CSA Members in Telluride on Wednesday and at the farm in Mancos yesterday! Thank you for reminding us why we do what we do! Seeing you're faces and excitement about the produce this week gave me a boost of energy that should carry me through these hot windy days! Thank you for supporting local agriculture and being a part of our farm this season. We truly look forward to sharing the harvests and seeing you all every week from now to October.  

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Mike seeded the root block (carrots, beets, turnips and rutabagas) earlier in the week and is managing the irrigation to get these crops to germinate quickly in this hot weather! Tomorrow we will be seeding the zucchini, winter squash and greens beans and then the farm is mostly planted for the season, not counting the continued successions of greens, radishes, cilantro, etc.

It's almost time to switch from planting/seeding mode to weeding mode! I started weeding the onions beds yesterday and we're planning to finish them today. Currently... 3 beds down and 9 to go! If there's any one crop that needs us to stay on top of the weeds, it's the onions. They grow pretty slow and do not offer much competition early on for the weeds and they can get swallowed fast. 

We're planning to start pruning and trellising the tomatoes this weekend. They're growing like weeds and looking a bit out of control at the moment. It will feel good to tidy up the tomato beds and give them some direction. They're flowering and looking strong... it currently feels like it could be a good (and maybe early?) tomato season!

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Here's the triticale and vetch block during sunset! We splurged earlier in the spring and ordered an 8' roller crimper, and it got delivered yesterday afternoon! Wahoo! Basically, it's a large and heavy cylinder that we pull behind the tractor and it rolls (crimps) the cover crop flat on the ground, terminating the cover crop and laying it all down as mulch. We're going to take it for a test run on Sunday morning and crimp this block of cover crop. We'll report back with photos and info on how this goes, as well as our long term plans/ideas with this piece of equipment. 

Have a wonderful week!

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Water is ON and Harvests Start in 2 Weeks!

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Our irrigation water is officially ON, which means we're suddenly planting all the things! We spent Wednesday transplanting cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli. They're getting settled into their new space and looking good.

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We finished planting the greenhouses over the weekend. We had a few open beds that we filled with with shishito peppers, eggplant, cucumbers and more cherry tomatoes! And, the first round of tomatoes are ready for a pruning and trellis... we plan to tackle that next week. 

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We have this lovely bed of overwintered collards that are blooming and attracting so many beneficials. We were supposed to pull these plants out months ago but I'm glad we procrastinated and let them flower because now they are truly buzzing with life! 

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Mike spent some time earlier in the week prepping the beds for beets, carrots, rutabaga and winter squash. It took a couple years of making adjustments but I think we have the bed shaper dialed! Mmmmm, the soil in this block feels great and I'm excited to seed beets early next week!

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In the fall, after we harvest crops, we normally incorporate the crop residue and then pull the grain drill through the field and seed a cover crop to protect the soil during the winter months. Last season, the only two blocks of cover crop that germinated in the Fall were the ones seeded in early September. We were able to irrigate these blocks once or twice and they enjoyed the last rain storm we had in mid-September. We rely on rainfall to get most of the cover crop up, and last fall that just didn't happen. We're excited these two blocks of triticale and vetch survived the winter, and the last incredibly dry 8 months. They're getting a touch of irrigation now and we plan to crimp them with a roller crimper soon! Stay tuned!  

Snow Peas! Oh my. We have a bed of snow peas in the high tunnel and they are out of control. I need to spend some time today directing them back towards their trellis as one side of the bed is just reaching to the west and trying to take over a tomato bed, which is NOT ok. It looks like they have been enjoying the warm spring temps as I snacked on the first snow peas of the season yesterday... two weeks earlier than normal? Hmmm...

OK. I should head outside and open the greenhouses. We're looking forward to seeing all of our wonderful CSA Members in less than 2 weeks! 

Have a wonderful weekend! 

CSA Countdown - Harvests Start in 3 Weeks!

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We're tackling one day at a time over here, with healthy to-do lists and endless water and snack breaks. It's been a hot and windy week and staying hydrated has been a challenge. The weather feels more like what we expect in June, rather than May. But, most of the crops we have in the ground seem to be liking the hot days and mild nights. 

The tomatoes are growing like weeds in the greenhouses and we transplanted two beds of peppers earlier in the week to keep them company. The peppers settled right in and already have ladybugs nestled against their glossy leaves.  

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We are planning to finish planting the greenhouses tomorrow morning, with cherry tomatoes, eggplant, shishito peppers and more basil! 

We spent a couple days getting the weeds in check. They're back and happy as ever and they do not seem phased by the drought... the thistle just seems sharper earlier than normal! 

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Rhubarb! and herbs herbs herbs. I have been wanting to start establishing perennial beds for a couple years now and the slower pace of this year has actually allowed it to happen! We planted a bed of rhubarb root stock from some of my lovely friends and mentors at Circle A Gardens in Montrose! Thanks Betsy!!! And an herb bed filled with mint, thyme, oregano, sage, etc... Things are about to get more flavorful around here! Herbs = FLAVOR, in everything from rice bowls to peach pie.

We're excited for CSA Harvests to start the first week of June! We only have a few Summer CSA Shares left, so make sure to sign up ASAP to reserve your veggies for the season!    

Ok, we should get back to it. We're headed out to prep beds and transplant kale this afternoon! 

Have a great day!

Warm Temps and Hopeful Plantings!

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The pace is picking up around here, and with it the heat! Holy moly, we have been in the 80s the last few days and our bodies are trying to acclimate. The heat feels good but seems a bit early? 

We LOVED the storm that brought a little rain and cool temps to Southwest Colorado last week! The soil was wet for a day or two and we got to spend a couple days organizing, cleaning and catching up on emails.

I grew up with a father who always kept his garage and tools incredibly clean and organized. Every tool had a place. He knew (and still knows) where every tool was, and also if something was missing. I would borrow tools here and there and sometimes forget to return them. Within a day he would notice something missing and ask, 'Hey, did you borrow a wrench yesterday?'. I'm working on getting our tools organized like this, and find it so satisfying when we have the tool to fix or repair something AND I know exactly where it is. 

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Planting season is suddenly in full swing! The first round of tomatoes went in on Friday and Saturday. They're settling into their new spacious beds and already starting to put on new growth. We're hardening off the eggplant and peppers and hoping to transplant those in the next week or so, depending on what the 10-day forecast looks like. I feel like we should have one more cool/cold dip before the end of the month but we'll see, that might not be the case this year?

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We have started planting the onions! The Sweet Walla Walla Onions and the red storage onions are. Today we're going to finish up planting with the yellow storage onions, leeks and scallions. The onions and the potatoes, which went in on Sunday, are both hopeful plantings. We will be able to get the onions established with irrigation water, but we will need rain to come this Summer to pull them through to the end of the season. Fingers crossed! It feels like a gamble but, it will help us learn and understand what we can produce on a season like this. We're going to learn a lot this season when it comes to crops and drought stress... We'll be taking lots of notes!

We transplanted the first round of head lettuce, more little gem lettuces, chard, bok choy and napa cabbage yesterday! We still have a prop house full of starts and are slowly working our way towards getting everything transplanted. I think we'll start in on the brassicas next week - the cabbages, kale, collards, cauliflower and broccoli! It feels good to see starts moving out of the propagation house and into the field.

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The early carrots are looking great! They should be ready for the first CSA Harvest, which is only 4 weeks away! The beets are gorgeous as well, and need a good thinning so they can start to really bulb up.

OK. We need to head out and catch up on a couple weeding projects, shape beds and get the rest of these onions in the ground! 

Have a beautiful day! 

Your Famers,

Mindy & Mike

 

Drizzle On a Drought Year

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We're moving slower at the farm this morning, savoring the dark clouds and drizzling rain. RAIN, oh my gosh, it feels so refreshing outside! It rained (lightly) last night, and we're hoping it continues throughout the day. Either way, we're grateful for some moisture.

I just came in from checking on the propagation house. All of our starts are looking great and are about ready to make their way into the field and greenhouses. 

We have a few plantings on the schedule for later in the week: potatoes, onions, tomatoes and various greens. It's the first real planting push of the season and I'm excited to get all of these starts in the ground. 

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We successfully moved the two Moveable Tunnels on Friday! This is a nice task to have complete and thankfully the skies stayed calm while we pulled the tunnels across the field. I have nightmares of wind gusts tossing them around. So, these tunnels are all set up in their Summer Plots and are prepped for planting tomatoes on Saturday.

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The early carrots and beets are now out in the open enjoying the sunshine, wind and rain! We have row cover set up to keep these lovelies warm as the temperatures drop over the next few nights. 

WATER UPDATE: We want to keep our CSA Community up to date on what our irrigation season is looking like for 2018. As we all know we're in a drought, one that they're now labeling as 'exceptional' in Southwest Colorado. The latest drought map put out by the U.S. Drought Monitor shows a painful dark red, representing the drought intensity as D4 (exceptional drought), covering our corner of the state. 

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Our irrigation water, which we use to irrigate your vegetable crops, comes from snowpack runoff in the mountains. We anticipate our irrigation water is going to be shut off come the first hay cut in our valley, which usually happens early July, and then it may come back on sporadically here and there. This is scary for us, but not surprising, considering how dry it has been. When if feels like we did not have a winter, it's impressive we have any irrigation water. We will keep you all posted as the season progresses and as we learn more.

We want to extend a HUGE THANK YOU to all of our CSA Members! Thank you so much for supporting local agriculture and for believing in us to grow your vegetables! We take our role as farmers very seriously. Please know that we are going to do our very best to provide a bountiful and steady supply of produce to you all this season. Please also keep in mind that the weather is out of our control. I have reminded friends and fellow farmers recently that every time we plant a seed there is an element of hope involved. As farmers, we have to have hope every time we seed and plant. Hope that our crop(s) will not be knocked out by pest pressure, disease, a hail storm, etc. And this year, we just need to have an extra level of hope. Hope that rain will come, sooner or later. 

This season is challenging Mike and I in new ways. I feel like spring is normally a very physically challenging time of the year, but this spring, it's more of a mental and emotional game. Ultimately we believe this is going to make us better farmers. It's going to force us to evaluate how we can be resilient and care for our soil during dry spells like this. 

Thank you for reading! Keep your fingers crossed for rain and have a wonderful day. 

Your Farmers,

Mindy & Mike

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April. Spring. Drought. Seeding!

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Spring has arrived. Birds are up early signing along the fenceline, grass and fields are beginning to green up, the longer days are refreshing and most evenings a beautiful sunset will stop us in our tracks! 

With the arrival of Spring we're slowly seeding all the things! The tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are beginning to fill out their trays and will be ready for repotting here shortly. The first round of lettuces are up and we filled the propagation house with newly seeded trays on Saturday afternoon. We seeded trays of kale, collards, chard, cabbages, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, lettuces, parsley, basil and fennel.

This Spring has a very different feeling than last year, partly because it doesn't feel like we had a Winter? We are planning and seeding mainly for our CSA Community this season and scaling back our wholesale production considerably, due to the incredibly dry Fall and Winter and knowing our irrigation season is going to be short.  This is a big change for us and our farm as wholesale production has been our main focus for years. 

We are looking at the bright side, knowing that less production means more down time this summer. So we should have more time for friends and family, and be able to prepare dinner at a reasonable hour and maybe spend the weekends hiking and BBQing rather than working in the field. 


Mike and several other farmers in Southwest Colorado were recently interviewed by Luke Runyon with KUNC 91.5fm about drought, conservation and resilience in the Colorado River Basin. Drought is viewed as a temporary situation but what do we call a condition of permanent water impermanence and a need to be constantly resilient? When Drought Lasts 18 Years, Does it Need a New Name? As Brad Udall was quoted saying, "If you have the wrong words in your thoughts, you might actually come up with the wrong solutions."


Farm Updates! Beets and carrots are really starting to take off in the moveable tunnel, the onion starts are beginning to bulk up and the first peas and turnips are up in the greenhouse! Grow lovelies, grow!

This will be our first season with the moveable tunnels up and running for a whole year... this gives us the opportunity to seed roots (such as carrots and beets) early and come May we will pull the tunnels to their 'Summer Plots' where we will plant crops like tomatoes, peppers and basil that will benefit from the additional heat during the summer months. At the same time, those early carrots and beets should be able to handle the Spring weather and temps and hopefully be ready for our first CSA Harvests! Having moveable tunnels and being able to use them like this has been a dream of mine for years as crop rotation in greenhouses and high tunnels can be challenging. Being able to move these tunnels onto three different plots throughout the seasons will provide many more crop rotation options without pulling expensive 'greenhouse real estate' out of production. 

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We are experimenting with a couple things this year.. We experiment every season but this season just has a different focus... a drought focus. One of our experiments is with potatoes. We're going to follow advice from some of our mentors in the area and try an acre of dry land potato. Yep, you read that right. We are not sure how the potatoes will do or what kind of yield we'll have, but we'll report back as the season progresses. Always learning.

Mike has been processing Hubbard squash seed! We love this variety for so many reasons... it's diversity in shape, color and size, it's sweet rich flavor, drought tolerance and it's ability to store well for 8+ months. We appreciate the many farmers and their seed saving work on this variety for the past few hundred years. We have these farmers/seed savers to thank for a squash that is resilient and truly adapted to our region. 

CSA Registration is OPEN! We would love to have you join us and our farm this season, for 18 weeks of freshly harvested produce grown right here on this beautiful piece of land we call home. 

Let's do this! So how do I sign up for the CSA?

  • First, review the Summer CSA details and options.
  • Second, go to the CSA Sign-Up page and select a payment option.
  • Third, mail a check or Pay Online to reserve your CSA Share for 2018
    • If Paying by Check: Complete and submit the CSA Sign-Up Form online. Then make your check out to Mountain Roots Produce and mail to 41095 Road G, Mancos, CO 81328. 
    • Online Payments: Go to the farm store, select the CSA Share you would like to purchase and proceed to checkout. When you add a CSA Share to your cart, a CSA Sign-Up Form will pop up and need to be completed.  **Please note, a 3% processing fee is added for online payments.  If you wish to avoid this fee you can pay by check. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Have a beautiful day!

Summer CSA Registration is OPEN!

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Good morning! 

We are opening registration for the 2018 Mountain Roots Produce Summer CSA today! We're currently preparing and planning for another growing season and we are seeding the first seeds of the season this afternoon. 

We would love to have you join us and our farm this season, for 18-28 weeks of freshly harvested produce grown right here on this beautiful piece of land we call home. 

Let's do this! So how do I sign up for the CSA?

  • First, review the Summer CSA and Fall CSA details and options.

  • Second, go to the CSA Sign-Up page and select a payment option.

  • Third, mail a check or Pay Online to reserve your CSA Share for 2018

    • If Paying by Check: Complete and submit the CSA Sign-Up Form online. Then make your check out to Mountain Roots Produce and mail to 41095 Road G, Mancos, CO 81328.

    • Online Payments: Go to the farm store, select the CSA Share you would like to purchase and proceed to checkout. When you add a CSA Share to your cart, a CSA Sign-Up Form will pop up and need to be completed. **Please note, a 3% processing fee is added for online payments. If you wish to avoid this fee you can pay by check.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Thank you so much for your support! I love the CSA model, I love planning the season with YOU in mind and knowing that we will get to see and connect with our CSA members every week.

Have a beautiful day!