Kersey’s Monroe Organic Farms celebrates 80 years in the biz | TheFencePost.com

Kersey’s Monroe Organic Farms celebrates 80 years in the biz

Bridgett Weaver

When you go to the Monroes' farm in Kersey, you don't knock on the front door.

In fact, Jacquie Monroe admonishes visitors when they don't use the back door. It's old fashioned, sure, but so are Monroe and her husband, Jerry.

The Monroes have farmed for so long, it wasn't even considered "organic" at first. Jerry's father made the choice in the 1940s to stay away from pesticides and other chemicals — before going organic was an option.

The Monroe Organic Farm is one of the oldest organic farms in the state and possibly the nation. This year, the Kersey farm will turn 80.

In 1936, Jerry's Grandpa Lester moved his farm from the city limits of Greeley out to Kersey. That's what they consider the real start of Monroe Farms, even though the family has farmed since the 1920s.

After World War II, Jerry's father, Jerry Sr., began running the place. He met people when making deliveries to local grocery stores who asked if they could get the produce fresh from the farm. So Jerry Sr. began letting people come pick their own fruits and veggies. They called it a "YouPick" farm.

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After the war, many farmers began using chemicals to help their produce grow, but because of his customers' footprints in his fields, Jerry Sr. decided not to use those methods.

"Most people don't realize that even the chemicals that are used on our vegetables — even if they're OK'd by our government — have a waiting period because they're so toxic that they don't want people walking through the fields because it could make them very ill," Jacquie said.

Monroe said often there is a 10- to 25-day waiting period between when a chemical is applied and when a person can walk through the field.

"He didn't want to have to limit his customers from going out into the fields," Monroe said.

Plus, she said, he had four small children to worry about.

Jerry and Jacquie Monroe have carried on the legacy, and eventually their son Kyle, will continue on with the organic farming.

Jacquie married into the business in 1984, and she wouldn't have it any other way. She grew up in the city with her parents, but the summers were her favorite time.

"I always wanted to be a farmer," she said. "I loved spending the summers on the farm between my two grandparents."

The Monroes helped start some of the oldest farmers markets in the state, with markets ranging from Colorado Springs to Cheyenne. At one point they were doing 17 to 18 markets a week. That was a little too much, so they decided to move to the Community Supported Agriculture structure in 1993.

They do still do a few farmers markets in the summers, but it's more like five to eight a week.

To cope with some other changes in the market, and to make it a little less stressful, they chose the community structure, which Jacquie Monroe said was a great choice for their farm.

"It is probably one of the most supportive things that a farmer can ever get into because you have a group of people who really want to keep this farm out of the developers' hands," Monroe said. "They want to keep it organic."

For a price, the farm promises a supply of fresh fruits and veggies once a week.

"Somebody buys into the farm and they understand they are taking the risk with me," Monroe said.

That means if it's a year when there is a huge hailstorm in the middle of the summer that ruins crops, the Monroe's community members get less produce. However, if it's a luscious year with huge yields, the members get more.

Being part of the Monroe Organic Farm in Kersey is kind of like having Christmas every week, she said, because their members love getting a new box full of produce filled with ever-changing dinner ingredients. They never know what they're going to get because it depends on the season.

They often allow members to make requests — that's how they ended up raising meat.

"We're really a vegetable farm," Monroe said. "We're doing animals because our customers asked for them."

Jerry said he thinks produce tastes better straight from the farm than if it has to be shipped to a store first.

"It's different when you get it off the farm," he said. "It just tastes so good." ❖

Monroe Organic Farms CSA

Monroe Organic Farms is located at 25525 Weld County Road 48 in Kersey. They can be reached at (970) 284-7941.

Community Supported Agriculture shares are available for 2016.

Membership Fees: The membership fee is an annual, non-refundable fee. It is $175 for a nonworking membership and $125 for a working membership.

Summer Produce Fee: This fee covers the produce in the summer months and can be paid in two equal installments on July 15 and Sept. 1. It is $490 for a full share, $300 for a half share and $195 for a single share. Shares also can be discounted for working on the farm. A working full share is $255 and a working half share is $150.

Meat, Western Slope fruit and winter storage shares also are available for an additional cost.

More options and a complete list of produce are available online at http://www.monroefarm.com.

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