Castle Rock couple expanding agriculture endeavor

Castle Rock couple Rue Graham and Chris Frederics didn’t start out as farmers, but a knack for food production picked up in college paired with an entrepreneurial spirit spurred them to make a career change two years ago.

Graham, a math and science teacher at Renaissance Secondary School, and Frederics, a former teacher of seven years, run Giggle Belly Urban Farm from their home downtown. Frederics left teaching in December to pursue urban farming full-time.

“We’ve been stewing on it, me especially,” he said, “for a long time.”

The family has converted nearly every square inch of their front and back yards into growing space. Tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, kale and other foodstuffs spring up from the earth come summer as the family grows and harvests its crop.

Last season they served up produce to eight families through their Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, program. This year their goal is 30 members and they’ve acquired more land that’s roughly tripled their farming footprint.

The CSA program allows member to pay a fee and receive boxes of produce from the farm, one a week for 20 weeks. Members can pick boxes up from the farm or the Festival Park farmers market, where the couple runs a stand.

Boxes also include recipe ideas and information about what’s been happening at the farm.

“And you have direct access to your farmer,” Frederics said.

Graham said she loved hearing about families’ experiences getting kids to try new foods through the CSA, coming up with recipes and just talking food for a summer while working on the CSA program.

“You really do create super cool relationships with your CSA memberships,” she said.

Their goal is not only to keep town residents full on locally grown produce but to also teach them about food production.

Graham said her experience in Vermont attending Sterling College, a private environmental college, gave her a better understanding of “what it takes to produce food,” which she hopes to share with Castle Rock.

Fredericks spent his summers growing up on a Nebraska farm and began working at a 400-acre organic farm in college. As a teacher at Jefferson County Open School he helped his school start a community garden that today one of the largest in the county, he said.

“We’re not feeding the world. It’s to educate people about their food system and get them closer connected to it,” Frederics said.

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