New Castle News
Osage Garden’s hands-on operation, based right outside New Castle, impressed me when I visited the gardens in March. Happy, joking workers cut the herbs exactly to fit the “clamshells,” weighed them, and carefully filled orders for local and Front Range stores. There is no large major machinery involved in the handling of these herbs. Osage is proud of the fact that the herbs are picked, packed and sent to stores within 24 hours.
Twelve years ago, Tom and Sarah Rumery started out selling tomatoes, and quickly found out that “basil liked us” ” that they could get basil to grow quite easily. One thing led to another, and soon it became apparent they needed to sell other herbs and get into the culinary herb business. In their greenhouses now, basil is in many different stages of growth, some as big as trees, with lemon and Thai basil available. Today, 21 employees package 22 varieties of herbs and edible flowers.
The herbs are picked in the early morning and packaged the rest of the day, said Rumery. “There’s kind of an art to it all, too. There’s lots of strategy. Each herb grows at a different rate from one another. Each herb thrives in a different environment from one another. All herbs grow at different rates throughout the year depending on the season. Always having enough herb year-round has its challenges.”
“On the inside of all the packets are recipes for that particular herb,” said employee Jackie Smith. Smith, with help of Susan Drost, artfully arranges the edible flower packets of pansies, roses, nasturtiums, mint, and marigolds. If you’ve never eaten an organic rose petal in a salad, you’re missing a unique dining experience.
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The original greenhouse facility has 23,000 square feet. Recently, Osage Garden acquired additional property on the other side of Interstate 70 and is currently building an additional 12,000 square feet of greenhouse.
Because their products bear the name “certified organic” on the labels, there are several inspections to adhere to. The planting material they use is USDA certified organic. Even the Osage Gardens labels are approved by the Department of Agriculture.
Osage Gardens takes great pride in its compost piles. “This is the heartbeat of our organization,” said Rumery. “It’s certified organic.”
“We have our own little ecosystem going,” said Rumery. “The scraps of herbs are fed to the chickens, which make them quite happy.”
The New Castle Friends of the Library are presenting “A Taste of the Caribbean” from 7-9 p.m. on Friday, April 30, at the New Castle Community Center. Attendees will sample food and nonalcoholic drinks and will be entertained by Steve Perreault’s Papaya Percussion Puppies, Sandy Sanchez, Gail Kuhns, and Linda Colby and Friends. There will be prizes for best dancing and best costume. The entry fee is $10 for adults, and $8 for seniors and children under 12. For more information, call Colby at 984-0419.
The Apple Tree Community Clean Up Day is Saturday, April 24. If you would like to volunteer to help, or you need help to haul things off, contact Trudi at 984-2247.
The St. Mary’s Church Cabaret “Stairway to Heaven” fund-raiser has been rescheduled for Friday, May 4. The dessert theater at St. Mary’s Church in Rifle will feature local singing/dancing talent, including Father Bob Hehn and Father Thomas McCormick. Tickets for the shows at 7 and 9 p.m. are $10 for adults, and $8 for seniors and children under 12. For advance tickets, call Linda Colby at 984-0419 or George at 625-9454.
Kay Vasilakis’ column, “New Castle News,” appears every other Thursday. For news tips and inspirations, please call 984-2308.
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