By Jennifer Welch – The Crowded Acre

“The day is coming when a single carrot, freshly observed, will set off a revolution.” – Paul Cezanne

How many times has a single head of lettuce changed your life?

I received a call saying that my tank was ready for pickup – the one that I take to the local goat dairy every week to collect over 150 gallons of whey to feed to my pigs. But this time, they also wanted to know if I was interested in some lettuce that a local greenhouse was giving away as animal fodder. Given that pigs will eat nearly anything I said yes, I would take it. And before long I received another call, this time from the owner of the greenhouse, about picking up the lettuce for the pigs. Score. Free food for my little herd of garbage disposals. 

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The Lettuce Harvest That Once Was

Central Colorado and the entire state once had a booming head lettuce growing operation from the early 1920s into the 1940s that is now all but forgotten. With good rail access via the Denver & Rio Grande to eastern markets, favorable growing conditions and plenty of ice to chill the leafy vegetable, head lettuce production was all the rage.

However, changing market conditions and the introduction of the refrigerated rail car doomed the local industry. Growing head lettuce in Colorado followed a national trend of the time where agriculture was expanding, and growers were taking chances with crops that ultimately didn’t grow well in certain locations.

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