The Story Behind High Desert Foods
From the land of the "Ancient Ones." Our organic fruit and vegetable farm, Kiva Orchard, is located in Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Southwest Colorado, a land that has supported human inhabitants for over 1,000 years. The farm's name comes from kivas -- half-submerged houses used in religious ceremonies -- left behind by the Anasazi Indians who once inhabited this region. We regularly find shards of pottery remnants from these "Ancient Ones." Looking back at this history, I consider myself to be the land's current caretaker rather than its "owner." It's my hope that, thanks to our certified organic farming practices, this land will continue to be fruitful for many generations to come. Organic farming methods, combined with our high desert region's microclimate of cool nights and hot summer days, its sandy clay loam soil, and irrigation with snowmelt from nearby mountains, produce fruits and vegetables that many have said are supremely flavorful.
Sustainable farming vs. agribusiness.
Throughout the world, people are struggling to establish a “sustainable” relationship with the land. But the challenge to us as small farmers is to use "sustainable" farming practices in a way that's economically viable in today's cash economy. Big corporate farms -- primarily conventional but also large organic farms -- may feed much of the world, but they break our hearts in their insensitivity to the land and people they're intended to serve. Their products are seen simply as commodities, the aliveness squeezed out them, sitting on grocery store shelves nearly indistinguishable from the garishly packaged processed foods that surround them. Small farms like ours are the last remnant of a time when food production was part of the fabric of our communities -- not just a way of sustaining life; but also a ritual that nurtured hearts and minds. Can you remember the last time you had these kinds of feelings walking the aisles of a grocery store?
Beyond fresh fruit to "shelf-stable" products.
For small-scale farmers who are trying to compete in an economy that values food for how cheaply it can be produced, the principle of "in diversity there is stability" translates into two strategies: first, having a diverse crop mix; and second, turning some portion of our harvest into “shelf-stable” products. At Kiva Orchard, we started out by sampling and selling our fruits and vegetables at regional farmers markets and food stores. Watching people's eyes light up as they taste fruit with flavor has been a true gift. Inspired by their enthusiasm, we're now producing an array of "shelf-stable" products under the High Desert name: fruit confitures, smoke-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, pasta sauce, pasta and much more. Our High Desert team is made up of people who are exceptional at taking great ingredients and transforming them into something extra-special. We bring to producing them the same passion for quality that we've had for our fresh fruits and vegetables.
An invitation to community.
Most people easily can recognize that sustainability means taking care of and respecting the land. But, for us, sustainability also means forging relationships between those of us who produce the food and the people -- probably in distant urban areas -- who consume them. I hope that, as people experience the vibrant flavors of our products, they will also share our appreciation for nature at its best and our mission to protect it. We hope everyone who buys and enjoys High Desert products feels connected to our ancient land and to us -- a feedback loop that replaces isolation from one another with a true sense of community.
With Our Best Wishes,
Bill Manning, owner High Desert Foods