Happy Belly supplies northern Colorado residents local-grown fruits, vegetables, eggs
August 18, 2017
Twelve years ago, Aspen, Colo., chef Dava Parr moved to Paonia, Colo., and started growing produce to sell. Her focus was to have fresh food coming right out of gardens and going straight to the plate, which was a huge appeal for the budding farm-to-table movement.
In addition to working her own one-third acre, she employed other growers who wanted to make more profit from their crops. The trick was to eliminate the middle man.
Originally running out of the back of her car, Parr began to deliver hand-boxed, fresh, in-season fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and herbal products directly to her customers. At Happy Belly CSA, from June through November, she and her distribution manager, Chloe Marcellus, now travel between the North Fork and Roaring Fork valleys. They also make stops in Telluride and all towns in-between.
Some of the produce is certified organic. "All of our farmers are good stewards of the earth. The food is as clean as it gets," Marcellus said. "They love what they do and it shows in the quality. The delivery service provides a way for them to prosper financially from doing what they love."
Marcellus graduates from the Colorado School of Clinical Herbalism in Boulder, Colo., this spring. After meeting Parr four years ago, she began making regular trips to Paonia. "I moved to the area in January and started working at Happy Belly CSA.
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The whole town is inspiring. These farmers grow such high-quality crops that it's more like edible art."
CSA stands for community supported agriculture. According to the Happy Belly website, "This relatively new socio-economic concept changes the way food is produced, distributed, and sold, creating small-scale closed markets for farmers in which the consumer participates in the risks and rewards of the farm. One of the great benefits of the CSA is that it gives our farmers more opportunity to do what they do best — grow your food. The farmers also receive more money for their crops, and save time by not having to market produce to stores."
Happy Belly is a multi-farm CSA. "We have about six other growers we work with to pack our boxes," Marcellus said.
Members have the option to pick their weekly boxes up at Elderberry's Pack Barn in Paonia, or for an extra $10 have them delivered directly to their homes. Pending bad weather or slow traffic, Parr and Marcellus make deliveries between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m.
One of the best parts about getting a food box from Happy Belly CSA is the variety it contains. Among the most interesting things customers have received are Chinese yard long green beans, favas and edamame. "We've also had little alpine strawberries that taste like Jolly Ranchers candy," Parr said.
But don't worry if you lift something out that you're unfamiliar with. Recipes are added to each box to help families with meal preparation. With Happy Belly, you're bound to experience things you've never tried before. ❖
— White lives on the Western slope of Colorado. Her email is email@example.com.