Happy Wednesday, friends.
And merry May, too. The month serves as a sort of a bridge at Black Cat Organic Farm. We thrilled our community (and ourselves) in April with bounties of sweet, delectable greens after a long winter when the greens bounty is parsimonious. Across the month, too, we prepped beds and planted seeds, and we spent quite a bit of time in the greenhouse, getting seedlings ready for transplanting. Lambing season normally gets going in April as well.
By June, carrots we planted earlier in the year get harvested, peas and fava beans arrive and stout, vibrant green life blankets fields across the farm. But in May, planting gets scaled back a bit, and the spring season for some of the greens has ended. It’s quite busy, as we continue nurturing plants into vigor and we of course harvest everything that is ready for your plates, including greens, turnips, radishes and more. Ewes keep having lambs in early May, too, and we devote quite a bit of time to their care. But the month lacks the harvest excitement that arrives with those first English peas and of course the tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and the rest of it.
So it’s not a flashy month, at least from a botanical perspective. But it’s extremely important. Complementary weather and adequate water in May are key for the health of the entire farm. Wretched wind storms, drought, floods, hail — any number of factors can threaten the farm’s future during the month, which was named after the Greek goddess Maia, who became one of Zeus’s lovers and bore him the child Hermes, one of the major Greek gods.
To at least try to ensure that the starts make it until sometime in May, when the last hard frost of the spring normally arrives, we surround the starts in the unheated hoop houses with hollow towers of reusable plastic, the walls of which are filled with water (see photo). As sunlight alone warms the hoop houses considerably during the day, the liquid in those towers gets quite toasty. At night, when temperatures in Boulder routinely dip below freezing across April and part of May, the water-filled towers retain their heat from the long day of sunlight. Most of the time, they stay snug enough to keep those starts healthy.
Our April toil revolves around more than planting and nurturing, however. We also harvest quite a bit, and of course devote many hours a week to making those organic veggies squeaky clean with water and a lot of elbow grease. And they are here to satisfy all of your culinary needs and wishes.
We hope to see you at our booths in Boulder and Longmont at Saturday’s Boulder County Farmers Market; at our Farm Store at 4975 Jay Road, open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; at our upcoming “Dirt Dinner” at Bramble & Hare celebrating two exquisite varieties of beets (more below); and at Bramble & Hare for the rest of the week (we are closed Sunday) for the most true farm-to-table cuisine in the United States.
Read on for much more about our thrilling Harvest Celebration Dirt Dinner on Monday, May 8, which will revolve around the many pleasures of arugula. In addition, a fantastic California winery, which specializes in natural fermentation, organic fruit and even blending things like apples and grapes, is sort of taking over Bramble & Hare on Thursday evening, with the winemakers on hand pouring their mind-blowingly awesome wine, and a custom menu to pair with the wines. Guests don’t have to take part in the wine event, however — regular menus are also available, as well as our big wine list. But we think the wine party is going to be one for the books.
Another new thing: the Wednesday night Boulder County Farmers Market in downtown Boulder! It begins tonight, and we will have a booth there, slinging all of your favorite veggies and more.
We look forward to seeing you at Bramble for the Harvest Celebration Dirt Dinner, and the wine event; at our farmers markets on Wednesday in downtown Boulder and Saturday in Boulder and Longmont; and our Farm Store at 4975 Jay Road, open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
May 8 Harvest Celebration Dirt Dinner: Black Cat Arugula
We enjoy getting granular with our varietals for these Harvest Celebration dinners: the Chantenay carrots, the Detroit beets, the different types of chicories that starred during this past Monday’s event.
For this upcoming Harvest Celebration Dirt Dinner, we turn the spotlight to a favorite variety of arugula: Black Cat Organic Farm arugula.
When Eric and Jill 17 years ago decided to start experimenting with growing things for Black Cat Bistro, that first year Eric planted arugula, from a seed packet he picked up at McGuckin Hardware. It performed well in the yard of the North Boulder home the family was renting at the time. About half of the plants that rose from the seeds survived. Eric encouraged some of the survivors to bolt and produce seed, at which point the arugula would be too bitter to eat. But the seeds, he thought, might produce a better yield the following year. They did. He saved more seed.
Today, the survival rate for Black Cat arugula is 100%, and the “variety” is essentially one-of-a-kind, a vegetable that over the years has fully aligned itself with Boulder’s climate and soil — its terroir.
Please join us on Monday, May 8 to savor this homegrown VIV (Very Important Vegetable) at Bramble & Hare. Arugula has long been a celebrity at Black Cat. For years, people who came to our farmers market booth would refer to Eric as “the arugula guy”; sometimes, they had no idea that we owned a restaurant. We were just ground zero for arugula excellence.
Enjoy it while you can. The arugula is succulent, sweet and pleasingly bitter right now — it’s perfect. But once things grow hot, arugula plants start going to seed, and as the plant believes its only point in life is to reproduce (little does it understand its culinary delights), it makes itself extra bitter, to ward off grazing predators. It becomes so bitter, in fact, that when set loose in arugula fields in summer, our hogs don’t touch the plants. This is unusual hog behavior; they inhale everything else in the fields that we leave for them. Eric describes munching on deep summer arugula as something akin to “licking the sun.” It’s hot!
Arugula returns in the fall, and is glorious again as temperatures dip.
Meanwhile, the hospitality team is eager to once again invite guests to order simply “white” or “red” wines, all of which have been curated by our outstanding sommelier Logan to complement our evening’s dinner, which arrive wrapped in burlap. Diners who participate in the engaging challenge then receive the sort of taste, aroma, color and texture scorecards that sommeliers use to understand wine, and to take part in blind tastings. From there, guests have fun exploring the wines and guessing at their varietals, countries of origin and more.
At each of our dinners, the sommelier game captured the imaginations of guests who signed up; we love watching them having fun tasting and talking about the wine, and then researching the wines once they learned their identity.
Not interested in using the sommelier’s grid during dinner? No problem. You can order the bottles of wine that Logan selected to pair with the meal, or you can work with a server to discover something you love on the wine list, or turn to cocktails and other beverages. Either way, we cannot wait to welcome you into our dining room in downtown Boulder and share four courses of culinary excellence with you, all of which will revolve around next week’s diva, rapini.
The celebration, on Monday May 8 in our convivial dining room, costs $75, plus tax, gratuity and adult beverages. When making a reservation, it is important to include dietary restrictions, so we can best accommodate; we rely mostly on the fruits of our fields for our dishes, and while accommodating dietary restrictions is something we do with pleasure, it is especially helpful in our case to have a little bit of advance notice.
Coming up: On Monday, May 15, we will celebrate kale.
Wavy Wines Bramble & Hare Takeover!
This is going to be one JUICY night.
Join us at Bramble & Hare (@realbrambleandhare on Instagram) on Thursday, May 4 (tomorrow) for a pop-up event with our friends at Wavy Wines (@wavywines), a California winery that focuses on organically grown varietals and leans into practices like co-fermentations and blending grapes with juice from fruit like apples, as well as crafting low-alcohol wines such piquettes, orange wines and its Super Californian, which embraces Italian grapes like Barbera, Sagratino and Freisa — definitely not the California norm!
The winemakers will be in the house to talk wine and our culinary team is creating a bespoke 4-course pairing menu to complement the positively gorgeous wine lineup.
It’s going to be something.
Not interested in the Bramble takeover on Thursday? No problem. We’ll still have our regular menu.
See you all soon for a special night at the country’s most true farm-to-table restaurant, in downtown Boulder!
The Black Cat Organic Farm CSA
If you haven’t signed up for our 2023 CSA yet, spots still remain. Our CSA differs from most: Instead of us filling sacks or baskets with vegetables for you to pick up, for our CSA we invite you to visit the Farm Store 20 times between June and October and fill Black Cat CSA totes with produce. In addition, CSA members enjoy 5% discounts on all store items, plus a bonus U-Pick credit based on share size.
The link contains loads more information about how the CSA works, as well as a way to sign-up. Welcome to the Black Cat family.
Farmers Markets in Boulder and Longmont — Including Tonight’s Kick-Off of Boulder Wednesday Evening Market
Join us tonight from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. for the kick-off of the season of the Wednesday night farmers market in downtown Boulder! We cannot wait to chat with you about food and farming, and send you home with a wide variety of organic vegetables, grains and more. Among other things, try this spring cilantro — it’s sublime. We think it might be a weekend of tacos and curries.
Meanwhile, swing by our busy stands at the Boulder County Farmers Market in Boulder on Saturday (from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and in Longmont (from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.) for a wealth of everything from the arugula we’ll be featuring at next Monday’s Harvest Celebration Dirt Dinner to spring onions, cilantro and much more.
Please visit us at the Farmers Markets this week for:
- Cilantro (New!)
- Jericho Romaine lettuce (New!)
- Escarole (New!)
- Frisée (New!)
- Arugula flowers
- Tat soi flowers
- Salad mix
- Sourdough bread
- Roving wool from our sheep
Look for our Black Cat arugula at the Farm Store, and think about an extremely simple recipe from Eric. He likes to boil pasta, drain it, and then slide it into a bowl that contains raw chopped arugula. To that he adds shaved cheese, and maybe a little bit of the hot pasta water and a few glugs of olive oil. Season. Stir to mix everything together. Serve. It’s perfect.
The superstar known as Black Cat arugula is just one of many glorious culinary offerings at the Farm Store, located at 4975 Jay Road and open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Store showcases all of our vegetables and grains, local meats, our own sourdough bread, prepared foods crafted by our culinary team and products like tempeh, gluten-free bread, pickles and much more made by local culinary artisans.
Please visit us at the Farm Store this week for:
- Arugula flowers
- Tat soi flowers
- Chicken eggs
- Duck eggs
- Guinea eggs
- Salad mix
Black Cat Grains and flours and legumes
- Sourdough bread
- Flours from Black Cat Organic Farm grains
- Dried beans
- Ancient grains
- Breakfast sausage (New!)
- Merguez sausage
- Grama Grass & Livestock Beef
- Cuts of Black Cat heritage lamb
- Pork ribs, pork chops and bacon
Black Cat Farm Provisions
- Braised lamb curry
- Spaghetti squash stuffed with vegetable stew on a bed of sauteed greens
- Orange cake with beet mousse
- Beef chili
- Vegetable curry
- French onion soup
- Tomato sauce with basil and garlic
- Basque piperade
- Yellow Tomato Sauce with French thyme
- Salsa amarilla con rajas
- Spicy harissa
- Carrot cake
- Chocolate cake
- Taos Bakes Cosmo Nuts
- Mini Moos Goat Cheese
- Frog Hollow Farmstead Crackers with Nettle Salt
- Frog Hollow Farmstead Apple Butter
- Full Stop Bakery Sourdough Crackers
- Tenderfoot Farm Jam
- Plains & Prairie goods
- Humble Suds cleaning products
- Bee-Och Organics tooth powder, muscle pain rub, beard oil, deodorant
- Growing Organic probiotic soaps
- Purple Fence Farm lotions, soaps, bath salts, facial toners and salves
- Annie Bee’s Hand-Poured Beeswax Candles
- Bluecorn Beeswax Candles
- Havenly Baked Gluten-Free Bread
- Boulder Broth
- Bee Grateful Honey Caramels, in chocolate, espresso and salted flavors
- Bjorn’s Colorado Honey and doggie treats
- Boulder Valley Honey
- Bolder Chip salsa, corn chips and tortillas, and uncooked flour tortillas
- Green Tahini dips and dressings
- Pueblo Seed Grains and Seasoning
- Heartbeets Veggie Burgers and doggie treats
- Spark + Honey Granola
- Mountain Girl Pickles
- Project Umami Tempeh
- Silver Canyon Coffee
- French mustard
- Gorgeous Italian balsamic vinegar
- Ambrosial Italian apple cider vinegar
- Vegan charcuterie from Greece
- Italian risotto rice
Rodale Institute + Mad Agriculture Fundraising Gala
Rodale Institute and Mad Agriculture are hosting a festive gathering and fundraiser aimed at spearheading a revolution to help our farmers thrive, rebuild our soil, improve human health, and build a livable future.
With less than one percent of all farmland in the United States certified organic, we know that we can improve the health of farmers, consumers and our ont precious planet Earth.
Healthy Soil = Healthy Food = Healthy People = Healthy Planet
Funds raised during this event will go directly to farm families seeking technical and financial assistance to transition to regenerative organic practices via the newly launched Regenerative Catalyst Fund.
Wednesday, May 17
Swoon Art House
Boulder, CO 80304
Each donation qualifies for one entry to win two fine bottles of certified regenerative organic wine.
What To Expect:
- Feast on organic farm-to-table appetizers prepared by Chef Rainbow Shultz from Jamestown Mercantile
- Enjoy delicious California certified organic wine
- Hear from leaders in the regenerative movement including the new CEO of Rodale Institute, Jeff Tkach, and the Executive Director of Mad Ag, Phil Taylor
- Chance to win two delicious bottles of regenerative organic certified wine
- Bid on three distinctive items in our silent auction
- Receive a special organic parting gift bag
About Rodale Institute:
For more than seventy-five years, Rodale Institute has been putting science behind best practices in regenerative organic agriculture and sharing its findings with farmers and scientists throughout the world, advocating for policies that support farmers, and educating consumers about how going organic is the healthiest option for people and the planet. We are headquartered on a 386-acre certified organic farm in Kutztown, Pennsylvania with regional campuses in five locations around the country and one in Parma, Italy.
About Mad Agriculture:
Mad Agriculture is a Boulder-based non-profit helping farmers transition to and thrive in regenerative organic agriculture across the country. We work from head to heart, poetry to science, financing to markets, and soil to shelf to meet farmers where they’re at on their regenerative journeys. Our four core branches ensure that farmers have the financial (Mad Capital), strategic (Mad Lands), connective (Mad Markets), and creative (Mad Media) support that they need to thrive.