Cackleberry Farms

If you’ve purchased local greens at the Boise Co-op, you’ve probably noticed the stand-out labels from Cackleberry Farms proclaiming their food “A Fresher Way to Eat.” Like many of our local growers, Cackleberry delivers produce the same day it is harvested—it doesn’t get any fresher than that! Cackleberry Farms might be a relatively new farm on a small plot of land, but they are managing to grow thousands of pounds of high-quality organic salad greens for hungry Co-op shoppers. Rick and Debbie got their start in 2015, and have been selling to the Co-op since.

In addition to selling eggs, salad greens, and other vegetables to the Co-op, Rick and Debbie also raise other animals for their own consumption. And their pet George the Guard Goose might be our favorite animal out there. They acquired George after hearing that geese are the best guard animals for chickens. He followed us around for most of the visit—he’s quite the social creature! Check out his photo above.

We also have a unique composting partnership with them—our Village Deli sets aside all their vegetable scraps from food prep. When Cackleberry comes by to drop off an order, they pick up the bins of vegetable scraps, then in turn feed them to their chickens. These chickens produce eggs, which end up on the shelves of the Co-op. It’s the food cycle in full circle!

Cackleberry Farms Snapshot:

  • Selling to the Co-op since 2015

  • They became certified organic when they started selling to the Boise Co-op

  • Raise 200 chickens for egg production

  • Grow on one acre that they own, and lease an additional acre from a neighbor

King's Crown Organics

Nate Jones operates King’s Crown Organics in Glenn’s Ferry Idaho. His is the largest local organic farm that the Co-op purchases from. Nate has been farming since 1975 when he came back to help out with the family farm. Two years later, he began farming on his own. In 1987, he decided to switch to organic. He initially got into organic agriculture because he knew he could make more money than with conventional ag. Nate is now a role model in the organic farming world—he is constantly experimenting with ways to improve overall soil health and conserve water usage.

When his son Wilder isn’t away at college, he helps out his dad on the farm. In fact, the day after Wilder was born, Nate drove a load of potatoes to the Co-op on his way to pick up Wilder and his mom from the hospital. You could say he was born to farm.

King’s Crown Organics grows beans, onions, melons, potatoes, and more. In addition to the Boise Co-op, you can find King’s Crown at the Ketchum Farmers Market and the Boise Farmers Market when their melon are in season. If you haven’t tried one of their infamous melons, then you haven’t really tasted summer.

King’s Crown Organics Snapshot

  • Their first organic crop was garlic

  • Selling to the Co-op for over 25 years, since we were located on Hill Road

  • 700+ acres in organic production

  • Sells potatoes to Boise Fry Co.

  • Like M & M Heath, also grows dried beans for Amy’s Organics.

  • Started raising cattle in 2018 for Desert Mountain Grassfed Beef.

M & M Heath Farm

Mike and Marie Heath farm 20 acres in beautiful Buhl, Idaho. It may sound like a lot to handle, but they’ve scaled back from the 500 acres they used to manage! Mike decided to farm organically after a Methodist mission trip to Malaysia. He witnessed Malaysian farmers using organic growing practices and was inspired to do so himself upon his return to the US. And we’re sure glad he did! M & M Heath primarily grows organic potatoes, winter squash, and dried beans. You can find their dried beans in our Grocery & Bulk departments under the Sunset Butte Organics brand. They grow flageolet, pinto, white, small white, cannelini, and black beans.

M & M Heath Snapshot

  • Selling to the Co-op for over 25 years, since we were on Hill Road!

  • Our Deli uses their dried beans in our infamous housemade burritos.

  • They grow many potato varieties including: Melody, Yukon, Reds, Red Sonja, Russets, Fingerlings (Russian Banana, French Fingerling, Peruvian Purple), Huckleberry Gold, Adirondack Purple, & Purple Majesty

  • You can also find their potatoes at Boise Fry Co.

  • Fun fact: they grow organic black and red beans for Amy’s Organics, so if you buy an Amy’s frozen burrito, there’s a good chance it has some Idaho-grown beans in it.

Acme Bakeshop

Well before the sun rises, the bakers at Acme Bakeshop are busy proofing dough, shaping rolls, and filling orders from their bakery in Garden City. We learned the hard way that if you want to see how the magic happens at a local bakery, you better show up at 3:30 am. And if you think that’s early, the bakers start arriving at 2:00 am.

Owner Michael Runsvold got his start making bagels in high school. He really enjoyed the process of baking, so he decided to stick with it. He now runs Acme Bakseshop, employing 9 people and making over 30 kinds of bread.

So what is his favorite bread? “Baguettes are always special because they are so simple. Their simplicity makes them a challenge. And I really enjoy eating them.”

They primarily use Shepherd’s Grain flour, which is grown in the Palouse region of northern Idaho (you can also find Shepherd’s Grain flours for sale at both Co-op locations, in case you want to try your hand at baking). This wheat is grown in Camas County with no-till farming practices by a cooperative of growers. While Shepherd’s Grain is not the only flour they use, Acme only uses flour grown in Idaho, Utah, or Oregon. It’s truly a local flavor!

In addition to both Boise Co-op locations, you can find their bread at the Boise Farmer’s Market every Saturday from April through December, as well as featured on the menu of more than 25 local restaurants.

Acme Bakeshop Snapshot

  • Acme Bakeshop started in April 2013

  • In April 2014, they started selling to the Boise Co-op

  • They make over 32 different items

  • Our Delis use Acme bread in most of our made-to-order sandwiches

  • Find their bread on the menus of more than 25 restaurants in the Treasure Valley

Desert Mountain Grassfed Beef

We spent a beautiful spring day visiting some of the ranches that make up the cooperative of Desert Mountain Grassfed Beef. We spent our time near Hammett, ID in the Bruneau Valley where Bob & Pam Howard graze their cattle in the winter and spring. The Howards move their herd further north toward McCall once the weather heats up. The calving happens in March and April, so we were lucky enough to encounter a day old baby calf on our visit, pictured above.

This year, Desert Mountain includes 22 ranching families. Most of the ranches are located in southwestern Idaho, with one in Vale and one in Lakeview Oregon (though these are not supplying beef until 2020).

The land they use for grazing is both public and private, depending on the season and the location. Desert Mountain ranchers utilize state land, BLM land, and private leasing agreements with farmers, both conventional and organic. Bob likes working with conventional farmers, because Desert Mountain’s methods can seem a bit unusual at first, but over time the farmers see positive results on their land. The Desert Mountain ranchers are constantly keeping an eye on the cattle, and they move them to new land if either the cattle or the land seem unhappy.

Because they graze their cattle at a higher elevation during the summer, it drastically reduces their water consumption. Howard is confident that for every degree above 80F, the water consumption of the cattle increases dramatically. Hence the migration up to McCall, where the higher elevation makes for a much cooler climate. Happier, cooler cattle drink less water. Not only that, but we think the Akaushi definitely taste better than Angus. The flavor is often compared to that of Kobe beef. Once you go grassfed, you'll never go back! 

Fiddler's Green Farm

Fiddler’s Green Farm is one of the newer organic farms in the Treasure Valley, yet they are one of the largest suppliers of local produce to the Boise Co-op. They grow over 50 varieties of edible crops and over 100 varieties of flowers (some of which are also edible). Located on 6 leased acres in the Dry Creek Valley, they currently cultivate 4 acres. Due to their small scale, they take pride in being a “high-tough” farm and doing pretty much everything by hand.

While their initial impetuses for getting into farming vary from a penchant for punk rock music and vegetarianism to studying ecology, to being dismayed at conventional farming practices, all the Fiddler’s guys have this in common: they are anti-establishment. It’s not an uncommon theme in the farming world, especially among younger farmers. And at a time when the average age of a farmer in the US is over 60, we’re excited to see these guys pursue a better way of caring for the land.

Fiddler’s Green Farm Snapshot

  • Grow 6 varieties of garlic

  • Started in 2016

  • Selling to Boise Co-op since 2016

  • Fiddler’s Green also sells produce at the Boise Farmers Market and through their CSA share

Form & Function Coffee

We stopped by Form & Function's crisp new brick & mortar on Broad St. and chatted with owner Kate Seward about beans, Boise, and brewing. The mix of people in the shop is exactly what you want to see in a coffee house: construction workers, businessmen in suits, students, people working remotely on laptops. And the coffee is truly top notch. 

In April of 2017 they began selling pour over coffee and beans at the Boise Farmers' Market. By the end of May their beans were on the shelves at the Boise Co-op. They opened their brick & mortar in December 2017, located in the new Fowler building at 511 W Broad St (in between the Wylder and Boise Brewing). 

Why coffee? Kate and her husband Scott saw an opportunity here. "We felt like Boise was missing something. There is so much new out there in the coffee world that we were missing out on."

At Form & Function, coffee is truly a science.They adjust their espresso machines religiously, and measure the ground beans for every single drink on a scale for consistency. They work with a green buyer who has been in the industry for a long time and works directly with farmers. They work together to determine whether the beans satisfy their sourcing requirements. They rate their coffees on a self-described "social meter". For the Sewards, the decision to source beans responsibly just makes sense: "If we don't care of our farmers, we're not going to exist. We have a responsibility to do it." One example of this is sourcing from Cafe de Mujeres in Colombia, who also work with the Sustainable Harvest supply chain. 

They offer 5 single origin coffees, as well as an espresso blend and a decaf. Currently they are having their beans roasted in Berkeley. They are awaiting the arrival of their Alpha roaster, slated to arrive in May of 2018, and are really excited to be roasting their own beans on site.

In addition to their shop, you can find bags of roasted beans on the shelves at both Boise Co-op locations. The North End store also offers their coffee in bulk. And if you want your coffee delivered to your doorstep, they offer a subscription service via their website

 

Peaceful Belly Farm

Clay and Josie Erskine started farming 16 years ago. At their first farmers market, they had 6 bags of salad mix. 8 years later, they scaled up to a 60 acre plot of land in the Dry Creek Valley. Growing over 180 different crops, Peaceful Belly is likely the most crop-diverse crop in the Treasure Valley. They rely heavily on crop rotation rather than inputs like fertilizer or compost. Water is a constant worry in the high desert climate, and they have 3 different watering systems on their land, including the waterwise drip tape.

Peaceful Belly is known for their creativity and innovation in the farm-to-table movement. They started making hard cider last year, and they partner with local chefs (like Nate Whitley of the Modern) to host dinners right on the farms. Now, they are looking at their next big move, and fulfilling a dream shared by many farmers: owning their own land. Peaceful Belly Farm is moving to a 35 acre plot in Marsing, Idaho and will offer lodging, a cidery, and wine. We are so excited to see what awesome new things they will be cooking up with their move out to Marsing. Find out the latest at their website.

Peaceful Belly Farm Snapshot

  • Started farming 16 years ago

  • 10 employees work on the farm

  • Grow over 40 varieties of winter squash

  • Infamous for their Freaks of the Garden video

  • Their spinach always flowers on the solstice!

Eagle Creek Orchard

Nestled along Eagle Creek in Richland, Oregon is the 5 acre stretch which holds the beautiful organic fruit orchard of Rob and Linda Cordtz. We spent several hours walking among the trees, learning about different fruit varieties, tree grafting, frost protection, homebrewing, beekeeping, and more. 

While they are located right on Eagle Creek, Richland is very much a desert that only sees about 8 inches of rain per year. Because of this, there are wild fluctuations in temperature and they have come up with some great ways to guard against this. 

Frost Protection

2013 brought a late spring frost that was cold enough to kill fruit buds in the orchard, resulting in a lot of crop losses that year. Linda describes how they dealt with the harsh reality of losing these living things that they care so lovingly for: "You reinvent yourself. You don't have time to sulk, so you just pick yourself up and figure out what you have to do next." In order to prevent a similar situation, they installed propane and diesel heaters throughout the orchards, which helped get them through the harsh winter of early 2017 (which brought the coldest temperatures since the 1960s). While they may have lost a lot of blossoms this year and will have a much smaller peach harvest, none of the trees suffered permanent damage in the harsh winter. They also use a wind machine to circulate the warm air through the property, which is powered by a Chevrolet engine.

The Best Peaches on the Planet

If you haven't tried any of the fruit from Eagle Creek, you're definitely missing out. Everyone at the Co-op looks forward to these peaches. Their amazing flavor is due in large part to the amazing care that goes into the health of the soil. They are the kind of fruit that you need to eat outside or over a sink, bent forward to keep the juice from running down your chin! Though this year's peach harvest might be small, we'll still have a lot of other delicious varieties of fruit from Eagle Creek throughout the summer. Keep an eye out for apricots, plums, plumcots, apples, and more!

Farming is a Gamble

Rob joked that farming is similar to gambling in Vegas, in that it's likely you'll lose your money doing either one. The difference is in the time it takes to lose it: "Lose it all quick there, or take years to lose it out here". Farming seems like a harder yet more satisfying way to lose it all.

Rob worked in the Forest Service for 20 years, and they moved to Richland to escape the food desert of McCall. Where they live, they are able to trade locally for a lot of what they don't produce themselves: vegetables, meat, and more. 

Eagle Creek Orchard Snapshot

  • 13 years on the orchard
  • 5 acres with 1200 fruit trees
  • They grow apples, apricots, peaches, plums, and more! 
  • 18 varieties of peaches
  • They harvested 70,000 lbs of fruit in 2016!

Rolling Hills Peonies

 

Tucked away down a dead end road in Star, Idaho, sits the enchanting 5 acre plot of Anju and Albert. Anju is the greenhouse nursery manager at Edwards Greenhouse in Boise, and her expertise and love of plants really comes through when you walk around the property--it is covered in beautiful flowers of all kinds. But the real treat is the large plot of peonies behind the house. Shocks of blossoms in yellow, white, crimson, salmon, and coral are made all the more vibrant by the background of their deep green leaves. Anju is thrilled to live in a climate where peonies thrive, and it's easy to see why. Walking among the rows of peonies is a pretty incredible way to spend a Monday morning.

The peony season is brief but intense. While these flowers are only harvested for 3-4 weeks in the late spring, they bloom like crazy in that time span. Anju and Albert harvest every morning and evening, about 500 stems per day. They sell exclusively to the Boise Co-op, and have for 3 years now, which makes us feel pretty special!

Rolling Hills Snapshot

  • Started selling to the Boise Co-op in 2014
  • They have over 600 peony plants!
  • Peony varieties at their farm include single, double, Itoh, and bomb
  • Peony plants can live for 150 years, and are very drought-tolerant
  • The season is brief! Keep an eye out for them in mid to late May, and get them while you can

Columbia Ridge Farm

In the realm of local growers, Columbia Ridge Farm is fairly new to the scene. But in terms of operating a small business, they have a lot of experience. After 12 years in the retail power-sports business selling snowmobiles, they decided to sell it and switch to growing food.

The timing couldn't have worked out better--if you've been shopping at the Co-op for a while, you may remember Kay Pennington, who supplied the Co-op with wheatgrass for years. Kay was getting ready to retire just as Columbia Ridge Farm was looking to add more products to their line at the Co-op. The Co-op made the connection, and Columbia Ridge Farms agreed to take over Kay's spot as the primary wheatgrass supplier, and Kay imparted some great wisdom to the new growers. 

While they primarily grow sprouts and wheatgrass for the Co-op, they also have chickens, goats, and horses, and use the greenhouse to start plants that they later transplant outside for their own garden. They use the spent fiber from the sprouting trays to feed the chickens, who pick every last sprout and seed out of it, then compost the rest. Plus, the greenhouse is solar powered, so you can feel good knowing you're eating solar-powered sprouts, herbs, and wheatgrass!  This past winter was quite the test for the new greenhouse, with record snowfall and low temperatures--but it stood the test and we couldn't be happier. 

Keep an eye out for them on our events calendar to see when they will be sampling their delicious sprouts in our Produce departments! 

Columbia Ridge Farm Snapshot

  • Started in 2016
  • Selling to the Co-op since 2016
  • All plant production happens in one greenhouse
  • Solar-powered greenhouse
  • Primarily grow wheatgrass, sprouts, & herbs
  • Greenhouse is heated with radiant heat flooring
  • Look for their eggs in both stores as well

Dawson Taylor Coffee Roasters

"In between moments of crisis and panic, I find a lot of joy."
-- Dave, founder and owner of Dawson Taylor Coffee

How Dave Lost His Marbles

In the early 90s, Dave Ledgard had a dream of starting his own coffee roasting business. Like many small business start ups, he was relying on a silent investor to help get the company rolling. When that fell through, Dave was not ready to give up. He had been a long-time antique marble collector*, so he flew to LA for a marble show and sold most of his prized collection in order to fund his new coffee business. He also did some consulting in the coffee industry, and was paid with a roaster. That's how it all started.

Over the years, they have added Dawson Taylor Downtown and a new pour over bar adjoining the roastery, Roast.  Dawson Taylor is named after Dave's son Dawson, who was a year old when the coffee business was started. Dawson can now be found quietly working away behind the scenes for the company that bears his name.

The Luckiest Guy in the World

While the business is named after his son, the other employees feel like they are part of the family. According to Dave, "The most compelling part of owning your own business is the humans you surround yourself with." There is a good feeling behind the scenes, and it's apparent that the people working there really enjoy it. Abbey is a testament to this. She left the company in 2001, but then came back 4 years later and has worked there ever since. Talking to her and Katie (in accounting and sales), it feels like I am hanging out in someone's house drinking coffee in the living room rather than in an office. 

Dave is also quite a prankster, and is known to throw the occasional firecracker. He describes himself as "the luckiest guy in the world." 

The Difference is in the Service

As the company has grown over the years, their commitment to quality and service has stayed with them. Dawson Taylor goes the extra mile to ensure that the places who serve their coffee have their equipment properly calibrated and that their staff is well-trained to brew the coffee in a way that brings out the best in the bean. The grounds to water is ratio is important, as well as the quality of water being used to brew. "Coffee is not very complex, but you do have to get all the factors right," says Dave. 

The coffee takes about 12-16 minutes to roast, depending on the type of bean and the type of roast they want for that bean. Stephanie is the primary roaster, and she comes to Dawson Taylor after many years as a barista and roaster in Salt Lake City. If you get the chance, ask to go to one of their cuppings, where you will learn a lot about what to look for in the flavor, as well as try a bunch of delicious coffee!

Pro-tip: If you are a light-roast lover, make sure you check out Roast, Dawson Taylor's new coffee bar on Lusk St. Order pour over or French press and be amazed at all the aromas coming out of your cup! The Papua New Guinea is a good place to start.

 

Dawson Taylor Snapshot

  • Started in 1995
  • Selling to the Co-op since 1995
  • Employs about 20 people
  • Buy at the Co-op in 12 oz bags or in bulk
  • Operates the roastery and two coffee shops: Dawson Taylor downtown and Roast (adjoining the roastery)
  • You can find their coffee as far away as Wyoming, Oregon, and Utah!

*If you ever get a chance, ask Dave about marbles. The history of their manufacturing is really interesting, and he is full of great marble facts and figures.

Warm Springs Greenhouse

Garden Valley Growers

Warm Springs Greenhouse is tucked away in beautiful Garden Valley, Idaho. We wound our way up into mountains along the river, down a dirt road to the 4 acres of  land with greenhouses nestled in between the tree-covered slopes. We were greeted by Rambo the dog, but Max the Maltese mix turned out to be our tour guide for the day. Leigh and Jan Ward run Warm Springs Greenhouse, which provides the Co-op with beautiful plants and hanging baskets throughout the spring and summer.

The greenhouses are literally heated by a warm spring that runs next to the property. The water is so hot you can’t touch it with your bare hands. Since the water has a high ph and contains sodium fluoride, they are unable to use it for watering the plants. Instead, the hot water is sent through pipes throughout each of the greenhouses, which radiates from the pipes to heat the greenhouse, thus eliminating the need to provide any additional heating, even during the harsh Idaho mountain winters. 

Second Generation 

The business was started by Leigh’s father in 1970, after he got out the tree felling business. He started out growing cut flowers, and moved into more and more types of plants. They have since moved away from cut flowers and now focus on potted plants. These are mostly flowers, but also succulents and herbs. 

Leigh took over the business in 2000 and now runs it with help from his wife Jan. Jan is also full time teacher, so she helps with the business on evenings and weekends. We were there during spring break, so she was catching up on some paperwork and availability lists. 

The irrigation system throughout the greenhouses has individual nozzles for each of the plants. The individual watering valves are turned on and off at each plant, to ensure that none of them are over- or under-watered. It's a surprisingly personalized system for the number of plants that they are growing, and shows the amount of care and attention that goes into it. 

Growing Plants is Addictive

When we asked Leigh why he did it—all the hard work, the long days, this was his response: “Growing plants is addictive”. It’s clear to see that it’s true, and it’s easy to see why after walking around in warm, humid greenhouses filled with beautiful flowers. It’s hard to be grumpy when you’re in an environment like that.

 

Warm Springs Snapshot

  • Started in 1970
  • Selling to the Boise Co-op since 1997
  • 40,000 square feet of greenhouse space
  • Heated by water from the nearby geothermal spring
  • Grows mostly flowers and some herbs and succulents
  • At any given time, they employ 8-10 people
  • Distribute throughout the Treasure Valley as well as Oregon and McCall