A Summit to Inspire Action

The New Roots CO Local Food Systems Summit, co-hosted by the Eagle RIver Valley Food Bank, was a resounding success this past Saturday, February 2nd. Participants included Samantha Miller, founder of All The Good Stuff farmers market delivery, Haley Baker,coordinator of  Walking Mountains Science Center’s in-school garden program, Sowing Seeds, Meighen Lovelace of Mountain Harvest Consulting, and many other inspiring community members committed to supporting local food endeavors in Eagle County.

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Participants spent some time learning about food insecurity issues many Eagle County residents face and engaged in breakout sessions to brainstorm solutions to local food producer and consumer challenges. We welcomed Ciara Low from Uproot Colorado and Hannah Semler of WholeCrops and co-founder of Farm Drop, as keynote speakers. Both women spoke about the benefits of gleaning for farms and gardens as well as the advantages of localizing the food system. In the afternoon, participants traveled to the Eagle River Valley Food Bank for a tour of the warehouse from their Sustainability in Operations Coordinator, Rita Hennigan. The event concluded with an informal networking hour with our sponsors at Bonfire Brewery.

An exciting outcome of the Summit were the ideas rooted in mutual support inspired in our participants, which New Roots CO plans to follow up on throughout the upcoming spring season. New Roots CO will also begin fundraising for projects that support gleaning efforts for local gardeners interested in participating in Produce for Pantries, a program that helps provide fresh produce to food banks. New Roots CO is also dedicated in supporting the efforts of community members who want to grow food on private land by engaging volunteers in boots-on-the-ground initiatives. We plan to work directly with Blue Sky Farms, a local homestead in Edwards, as well as a few other local residents who have expressed interest and a passion for growing food on their land.

Special thanks goes out to Our Community Foundation for collaborating with us and supporting our endeavors. We are excited to continue to grow New Roots CO’s network of local food activists and engage our community in reimagining our local food system, toward one that fuels a resilient future for all!

Interested in getting involved? Our goal is to connect our community to home grown food related projects. We will be looking for volunteers to help support upcoming spring initiatives! Please send us an email to info@newrootsco.org.

 

A Seed Has Been Planted

The birth of New Roots CO has been a force of transition over the past six months. Our board members and most influential supporters have been reevaluating, re-imaging, and refocusing objectives to best empower our mission to support healthy, local, and sustainable food access through education, outreach, and partnership. It has been exciting and humbling to watch the steady growth manifest through patient, charitable work.

In the past few months, New Roots CO has transformed our live, community outreach radio show into a podcast! We’ve welcomed guests from the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, Vail Honeywagon, and Eagle County offices and discussed a plethora of topics, such as water conservation, food policy, and conscious consumerism. It is our goal to keep Eagle County informed on issues pertaining to local food endeavors, as well as environmental stewardship, and other community-focused initiatives. We do this by balancing our discussions with local, regional, and national matters and other subjects that fit within our mission. Please consider subscribing to our podcast on Soundcloud and never miss out on this informational community series!

The New Roots CO board members met with Sustainability Coordinator, Rita Hennigan and Operations Manager, Brian Raper of the Eagle River Valley Food Bank (ERVFB), now open and operating out of Gypsum, CO. We are excited to collaborate with ERVFB to help mitigate food waste from grocery stores and restaurants across Eagle County and assist in getting that food to people. We are also working on a project to help individual gardeners get their surplus produce to the food bank. Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram for updates on these collaborations! We will hopefully be ready to have gardeners sign up for produce donations this Spring 2019!

Last week, a couple New Roots CO board members had the pleasure of sitting on a sustainability panel for the Eagle River Youth Coalition’s, Youth Leadership Council. This council is comprised of youth from each Eagle County high school and each sits on a committee with a specific focus to support community development in the realms of health, sustainability, and poverty. Our board members spoke about food systems and regenerative agriculture and ways for youth leaders to get involved in sustainability initiatives in our county and beyond, starting by empowering themselves to make more sustainable personal choices in their daily lives.

Through these small, but mighty initiatives, New Roots CO is building momentum in local food sustainability, sovereignty, and resilience within the Eagle River Valley community. With a Local Food Systems Summit in the works and tentatively planned for February 2019, we hope to continue to be catalysts for collaboration and create networks of support for local food producers, suppliers and other enterprises, connecting community members and other stakeholders together towards a more sustainable and regenerative food system.

We hope you’ll join us in being active participants in fostering a resilient Eagle River Valley fueled by healthy, sustainable, local food. We are here to be a resource for our local community, advocates for environmentally responsible production of food, as well as inspire others towards more sustainable food choices in their own lives. As both founders of a new nonprofit and passionate local activists, we are dedicated to realizing the vision of cultivating a community where every individual in the Eagle River Valley has access to local, sustainable, and nourishing food resources. To get involved, make a donation, or share your ideas, please email us at info@newrootsco.org.

Growing New Roots

There is something restless that stirs deep within the belly of the beast known as service work. It is this restlessness that drives growth and change. Transitions are the growing pains to any project, especially those that reflect deeply purposeful work. Like the breaking forth of a seedling from the shell of its case, to its bewildering push through blackness to the sunlit surface of the soil, transitions are as necessary as they are inevitable. In times of transition, it is vital to give gratitude to the little wins, the tiny details that convey those rights of passage, those coming of age lessons. This is where we, the group formerly known as Bare Roots, find ourselves today and it is up to us to bare these roots we have already grown with integrity and commitment, while continuing to foster new roots into a healthy, harvestable future!

Although transitions do mean changes, the deeper values and mission remains the same: we support healthy, sustainable food access through education, outreach, and partnership with a vision to cultivate a community where every individual in the Eagle River Valley has access to local, nourishing, and sustainable food resources. To realize this mission and the vision it carries, we came together to create New Roots CO, a grassroots, non-profit within Eagle County dedicated to localizing the food system to empower a healthier and more resilient community! New Roots CO, Resilience Fueled by Food, is now an autonomous organization and we couldn’t be more excited for the plethora of forthcoming service work, projects, outreach, and community impact events.

We believe that the transition to autonomy will allow for this project to reach its full potential set within the mission and vision.  We wish to thank the Vail Valley Salvation Army for their years of fiscal sponsorship and for maintaining the ideal of doing the most good for the communities they serve.  In acting out their own purposeful mission of service, they have successfully fostered the work of these passionate citizens who care deeply enough to continue growing new roots of social food justice, local resilience, and health.

We are excited to share more details with our community in the coming weeks. Get updates on our Facebook and Instagram! And please consider joining us on our mission to create a more resilient community fueled by healthy, local, sustainable, and accessible food! Get involved by sending us an email today… info@newrootsco.org

With much admiration and appreciation,

Nicole Abrams

Founding Board Member & President | New Roots CO

Sustainable Food Summit 2018

Food is medicine and medicine is food. The phrase is as true as it is palpable and it certainly makes more sense than the popular, “you are what you eat.” Food connects us to our deepest cultural roots, forms our heritage with the land, nourishes our microbiome, and fuels our life missions. Food also drives community, so when our connection to food is lost, we begin to lose our sense of community and ultimately, our sense of self.

The group of passionate volunteers, known collectively as Bare Roots, has seen steady growth within the mission to support healthy, sustainable food access through education, outreach, and partnership over the last year. One area that has experienced much impactful growth is the annual summit event, re branded last year to convey a more inclusive environment of people interested in participating in open dialogue with local experts on Eagle County’s food system, in particular, to learn about local businesses involved in food production and supply. What the group took away from last year’s event was there is almost no support for local producers in our region, growing food in the mountains is hard work, and emergency food assistance programs are starving for healthy, local food resources.  

This year, Bare Roots is taking an even more innovative approach to the annual summit event, calling it the Sustainable Food Summit, with a tagline goal of “Growing resilient community fueled by food.” The grand vision for this event is to immerse our beloved mountain community in all things food, to form purposeful partnerships, share resources, raise awareness about outreach projects and businesses related to healthy, sustainable, local and equitable food resources, so that we may transform our food system to one that is regenerative rather than degradative. Established sponsors, All the Good Stuff, Colorado Meat Co., Hovey & Harrison, and Green Elephant Juicery will be represented at tables with taste samples and products for sale. Other organizations, like Walking Mountains Science Center, will be in attendance to share about the Climate Action Plan for Eagle County. Their Sowing Seeds program will also be represented with garden-themed activities for kids in collaboration with Bare Roots’ Growing Gardeners program. Attendants also have the opportunity to learn more about food assistance programs through Vail Valley Salvation Army and Our Community Foundation’s Food Hub. Information on how to get involved with local community gardens as well as visions for future community gardens will be shared. The plant sales by both Red Mountain Farms and the Bare Roots Greenhouse are not to miss as well as seed swaps, garden decor crafts, close encounters with garter snakes, face painting fun and even free beer from Bonfire Brewery!

In addition to the plethora of tables to move through at leisure, Bare Roots has also organized 3 optional speaker sessions that will take place throughout the event in the Bare Roots Greenhouse. Starting at 1:00pm, Shawn Bruckman from Ground Up and Vail Honeywagon will speak about soil health and composting with an emphasis on the new commercial composting facility for Eagle County. At 2:00pm, Patricia Esperon, project manager for Bare Roots will speak on behalf of the entire Bare Roots team about the various education and impact projects taking place at the site in Avon, with an emphasis on the importance of conscious collaboration. At 3:00pm, members of the Bare Roots Steering Committee will lead a networking and vision sharing session for community members interested in local food production. All the Good Stuff, a new farmer’s market delivery company will be attending this session, along with the up and coming ventures of Blue Sky Farms and Vail Valley Creamery, also sponsors of the event.

This not to miss food fest takes place this coming Sunday, June 3 from 12:00-4:00pm outside of the Vail Valley Salvation Army office in Avon, CO. The team at Bare Roots is beyond grateful for the many partnerships forged for putting together this event. Special thanks to the Town of Avon and Beaver Creek Resort for their donations of tables and tents. Thank you to CSU Extension of Eagle County for collaborating on education and outreach projects. And thank you to all our sponsors, All the Good Stuff, Ground Up, Our Community Foundation, TV8 Vail, Minturn Free Radio, The Vail Daily, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Vail Honeywagon, Hovey & Harrison, Green Elephant Juicery, Blue Sky Farms, Vail Valley Creamery, Bonfire Brewery, Red Mountain Farms, Walking Mountains Science Center, and Colorado Meat Co. We can’t wait to see you all at the event this Sunday!

Bare Roots Summit Flyer 2018

Project Manager Spotlight

Producing food and providing for your family or community used to be a socially intimate and unifying experience. The necessity of it brought people together in a bond for their mutual well-being and survival. Initially starting with small tribes caring for themselves and slowly evolving to communities tied to the fields around them. During the industrialization of our food system we drifted away from this bond and we lost touch with the source of our sustenance and the basis for countless memories. It has become a worrisome time when people have lost the understanding of our reliance on the land and the source of the food on our plates.
In recent years this focus on the source and the community around local agriculture is being re-invigorated. With this basis in mind, it quickly became evident and clear that in the search for a new Project Manager for Bare Roots, we would need someone who could help us attain our dream of building a “Resilient Community Fueled by Food.” I had the pleasure of interviewing our new project manager, Patricia Esperon, in hopes of inspiring the community of the Eagle River Valley to once again start living the connection to our food and each other.
Adam(A): "How long have you been in the Vail Valley?"

Patricia(P):"I moved to the Vail Valley in 1998, but we left for 6 years to move to Arkansas. (2010-2015)”

Before moving to Arkansas and the Vail Valley, Trish grew up in Illinois and spend some summers in Arkansas. She moved to Denver in 1997 “the year that the Broncos won really big, and they rioted in capital hill where I lived”, but before that she grew up around Peoria, Illinois. As a high school student she worked for Wild Oats until they were bought by another company. After spending her childhood in Illinois, Patricia initially made her way up to the Vail Valley because of mountain biking and the fact that she knew people who lived in Summit County.

A: "What big things brought you to where you are now with Bare Roots and the Salvation Army?"

P: “I really enjoyed being with my grandmother, I didn’t enjoy hoeing up rows for potatoes while I was a little girl. I would always ask why we couldn’t just buy them from the store, but that experience of watching her with other people and then missing that connection. I still go back to Maynard [Arkansas]. There’s just something therapeutic about being with people on land with plants and creating an intimate relationship where people can heal and just grow and feel safe.” 

P: “I think I went back to my roots. That’s how I found out that I wanted to be a horticultural therapist. We had our biological son Exodus and we adopted our son Leo from Guatemala – he was 3 – and he had a lot of emotional and social issues so we had to learn how to be therapeutic parents. Through the process of doing that he got better and a lot of people were really excited about what they saw as the difference in him.”

This led them to leave their life in Colorado, including their business and Home, to move to Arkansas. While in Arkansas they bought 12 acres of land in the Ozarks in a place where they did not know anyone who lived there. The property was nestled in the woods allowing them to teach about 60 kids how to work with nature and the land over the course of 6 years. Their farm had horses, goats, guinea, chickens, rabbits, pigs, and the occasional possum. 

A: "What did you initially do when you came to the Vail Valley?"

Initially when Patricia came back to Colorado she spent the year teaching full time with the topic of gardening and nutrition. P: “I missed teaching tremendously”

P: “I asked to fill [this role] to add my own flavor to the pot of Bare Roots.”

A: "Do you see yourself using your experience in Arkansas here at Bare Roots?"

P: “I do! I’ve seen it a lot. There’s so many experiences. My grandmother was very poor, to the point that people would drop off lumber full of nails and I would pick nails out of the used lumber and put them in a coffee can for hours. I like to use what we have on hand. For me I’m not afraid to try things. My grandmother taught me to just go for it and jut put in the physical labor and then recruit people.”

A: "What benefit do you want to provide the garden experience?"

P: “Having people feel like they are in a safe place. We have volunteers that are coming here now regularly” so it has been very beneficial to have someone there full-time. “I had 26 volunteers just a few days ago.”

Bare Roots is more than just a garden and it is more than just a place for gardners to go. It is a place that we as a community can use to grow and become more resilient. Through providing healthy food for people, this program is also providing an opportunity for growth and development for new individuals in our community and for those who have gotten into trouble and could use a way to help turn their life back around. This project is one way to provide the loaves and fish for the people by teaching them how to tend and care for their own food.

A: "What projects are you looking forward to working on?"

P: “I would love for us to be able to get beams for the ceiling. And to have 5 gallon buckets with strawberries growing out the top and tomatoes growing out of the bottom. I think that it will make a statement that people will come in and see a garden that not only looks great, but it will be fun by having this garden in the sky. Also, I have wanted to work with the Red Canyon High School kids since I came back. I really am passionate about alternative education and high school students in particular. I am really thrilled that I am going to be working with them!”

A: "What is your vision for your role in Bare Roots and then the role for Bare Roots into the community?"

P: “Well I would like for our gardens to be at capacity as far as producing as much food as we can and for people to be able to come and have it be even more of an educational outlet. So groups can come and say ‘we want to add a garden to our school’ and then use ours as a model to get the ideas and be a launching board for them. I want to listen to what everybody’s [Bare Roots, Salvation Army, Our Community Foundation, and the community as a whole] goals are and then be able to do my best to facilitate that.”

Please join us in welcoming Trish to the team!

Seed Saving

Imagine you’re living 15,000 years ago.  Food is scarce and each day is filled with uncertainty.  Besides a couple of places to hunt or gather wild foods, there is no reliable store of food for you or your family.  Will the surrounding environment be plentiful or desolate in the coming years? Will you have enough food for yourself and your loved ones?  How can you be sure you will have a secure food supply?

When people began thinking about growing plants and sowing seeds, they found the key to a more secure and certain future. Through the simple act of saving seeds, people began to recognize a quintessential human ability, to sacrifice time and hard work now, to better ensure the survival of themselves and their loved ones.  

The act of saving seeds is a sustainable, cheap, and fun way to continuously grow your favorite produce year after year.  It has been the traditional way farms and gardens have been maintained for 12,000 years. Seed saving plays a huge role in each of our lives, by dictating what we will eat in the coming years.  It is the fundamental practice shaping our diet and food. By selecting for certain traits like size, flavor, nutrient density and more, our ancestors bred our favorite produce into existence.

Bare Roots endorses and practices seed saving because it has many benefits and it aligns with our mission to provide healthy, sustainable food to the Eagle River Valley.  By investing a little bit of time and energy saving seeds, we ensure that healthy, sustainable food is being provided to our community much like our ancestors.

Seed saving is the act of collecting and storing seeds grown in one’s farm or garden. Growers of all kinds from large-scale factory farms to community gardeners collect and store seeds in different ways and for countless reasons.  Saving seeds instills self-reliance, saves money, brings us closer to nature, preserves genetic diversity, fosters a relationship with our food, builds community and much more. Our ancestors relied on their saved seeds for many things including a backup supply in case a crop failed and for community building.  Saved seeds led to surplus food and seed, which could be used for trading and sharing.

Today, people continue the tradition of trading and sharing seeds via seed swaps, seed grants and seed exchanges.  Trading and sharing are great ways to acquire healthy, hardy seed varieties and connect with other growers. Last Fall Bare Roots received seeds from a community seed grant program facilitated by a non profit seed conservation organization known as the Native Seeds/SEARCH.  The mission Native Seed/SEARCH is to find, protect, and preserve the seeds of the people of the Greater Southwest so that these arid adapted crops may benefit all peoples and nourish a changing world.  Native Seeds/SEARCH accomplishes its mission via saving seeds in a seed bank, offering workshops and even giving seeds to eligible community oriented organizations.

Using seeds provided by Native Seed/SEARCH, Bare Roots has grown and harvested carrots, beats, lettuce, Swiss chard, kale and snap peas.  Our volunteers have noted the exceptional quality of the exchanged seeds. The germination rate (the ratio of seeds that grow into a plant versus all seeds planted) of these native seeds has been the highest we have ever seen in our garden plots.  The produce grew healthily and was donated to Vail Valley Salvation Army’s “Produce for Pantries” program to feed Eagle River Valley families. The snap peas were allowed to flower, fruit and seed so we could then save its seed to be shared and grown the following Spring.  In doing this, we save money on seeds for next year and are preserving a native variety that is better adapted for our region.

Today, many farmers buy their seeds from seed suppliers, which comes at a cost to the diversity of food grown.  Small-scale farmers and gardeners like those at Bare Roots can more easily save their seeds and keep an ample supply of their favorite produce and heirloom varieties.  Saving seeds is the only way to preserve these rarer, often tastier, produce.

When we save seeds, we also choose the plants most suitable to reproduce based on the surrounding environment.  In our high alpine Colorado climate it is important to select plants that are hardy, drought-tolerant and quick growers, or else the plant will never thrive.  Seeds bought or collected outside of your specific climate zone may not be adapted and produce less or even die before fruiting. By selecting seed from the healthiest and tastiest plants grown on-site we ensure our next crop of plants will be tasty, hardy and worthy of growing.

To save seeds takes planning and patience, but there plenty of resources out there to help get started.  Native Seed/SEARCH, The Seed Saver’s Exchange, CSU Extension and plenty of other bloggers, extensions and websites provide detailed explanations on how to select, harvest and store seeds.  It is usually easiest for beginners to start with open-pollinated crops like tomatoes, peas and lettuce and keep each variety a bit separate from the rest to keep each variety true-to-type. If different varieties are too close, they may cross pollinate and lose their distinct genetic makeup.  Seeds from wet fruits and vegetables are not always mature and ready for collection when the fruit is ready to eat. This means leaving a few fruits without harvesting to fully mature if you wish to save their seeds. The seeds from dry fruiting crops, however, can be collected once seeds seeds are dry and hard.  There are varied ways to store seeds depending on the need, but the basics rules are always the same. Stored seeds last longest in cool, dark and dry locations. Most seeds can be stored for one year without much loss to germination rates, but with proper drying, storing, and refrigerating/freezing, stored seed may last up to ten years or longer.

 

In times when our food supply is steady and reliable it may not seem necessary to store seeds as a food reserve, but there are plenty of important reasons to do it.  Saving Seeds is one of the most effective ways to get in touch with food and community, and anyone can do it. This invaluable skill handed down from our ancestors instills self-reliance and discipline in those who practice it.  Bare Roots honors this timeless tradition and encourages everyone to try their hand at it. Get started this summer and grow food and community!

 

Evan “Lanny” Ellis

Colorado Master Gardener, Permaculture Designer

 

Resources:

http://www.nativeseeds.org/about-us/our-story

https://www.seedsavers.org/how-to-save-seeds

http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/saving-seed-7-602/

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Seed Saving And Starting By Sheri Richerson

The Gift of a Guild

Bare Roots has officially entered the realm of permaculture with the planting of a guild at the site of our community garden! Permaculture is a big buzz word in the gardening and regenerative agriculture community. It is defined as a system of agricultural and design principles simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.1 The term permaculture was developed and coined by David Holmgren, then a graduate student, and his professor, Bill Mollison, in 1978. Mollison has said: “Permaculture is a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single product system.”

Bare Roots steering committee member and master gardener, Lanny Ellis, wanted to start small. He and a group of volunteers planted the guild along the fence line of the community garden on top of a berm, built with the intent to help build productive soil. The group completed the guild on November 5th. Within a year’s time, the plan is to expand with another guild planted into the field site on the east side of the community garden. This initial guild is made up of:

One Mutsu apple tree, one Alexander apple tree, two black currants, two elderberries, two catmints, two hummingbird mints, one mountain mahogany, one Siberian pea shrub, four woolly thyme and two strawberry plants. 

 

A permaculture guild is defined as a grouping of plants, trees, animals, insects, and other components that work together to help ensure the health and productivity of the entire system.2 All the plants, from overstory trees to the choice of ground cover, give and take at different rates from the ecosystem. Bare Roots is off to a good start with this initial guild. The mountain mahogany in the mid story and Siberian pea shrub in the over story add nitrogen that other plants take out of the ground. The apple trees are over story fruiting perennials that will provide soil stabilization and help sequester carbon. The currant and elderberry are mid story fruiting perennials. The catmints and hummingbird mints will help attract pollinators. The woolly thyme and strawberry provide ground cover. In addition to the diversity of plants, spent grain was added to the top of the soil over each plant to help keep the ground around the roots moist while also adding more nutrients and beneficial microbiota to the soil. The additional mulch will ensure weeds and other unwanted plants can’t spread as easily. Later in the spring, comfrey will be planted for additional ground cover and nutrient accumulation.

                                  

A special thank you to Colorado Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute for the insight and advice as well as for the donation of some plants.

Thank you Vail Brewing Company for the spent grain donation.

And of course…thank you so much to our dedicated and passionate volunteers for helping to make this project possible!

Harvest Dinner 2017

  • Americorps volunteer, Alex Murfey, shares the video he created about Bare Roots.
  • Homemade, handcrafted, & locally produced Silent Auction in the Greenhouse!
  • Dinner in the Bare Roots Community Garden
  • With the help of the Vail Valley Salvation Army, Bare Roots raised $4,000 in donations!
  • Our local business partner, Ground Up, donated 10 gallons of compost tea for the silent auction.
  • Future plans for an aquaponics system in the Greenhouse.
  • Bare Roots mission
  • In partnering with Walking Mountains Science Center, we were able to divert a majority of the waste produced at this event.

 

Thank you so much to our sponsors, volunteers, and partners for helping make the 2017 Harvest Dinner a great success!

Special thanks to The Ground Up, Walking Mountains Science Center, Our Community Foundation and our fiscal sponsor, the Vail Valley Salvation Army.

 

The Bare Roots Summit is an event not to be missed

Do you like veggies, gardening, or knowing where your produce is coming from? If you do, then you need to come to the Bare Roots Harvest Summit this Saturday, May 20th.  Bare Roots is hosting their fifth annual Harvest Summit from 8:30 am-3:30pm at Miller Ranch Community Center, 25 Mill Loft Street, Edwards, CO and you’re invited!  The Summit is a FREE way for the community to participate in a panel to discuss organic growing, medicinal plant use, best practices, and all things plant related!  There will be an open forum with a Q&A session.  Fifteen local speakers are attending to give their expertise on five different topics.  The topics include, Land Management to Support Local Food, Supporting Local Food through Education and Outreach, Local Food Supply and Business, Local Food Access within Community, and Growing for Therapy and Nature Connection.  The Harvest Summit is a perfect way for Eagle County residents to collaborate with their growing community and share both resources and ideas about local farming and food.  All attendees are invited to participate in a seed swap and plant sale. Do you have your kids that day? There will be free onsite childcare lead by our AmeriCorps NCCC team. They will lead structured growing gardener classes and crafts to keep your little ones engaged and happy.  There will be a provided breakfast and lunch and following the Summit, you can head over to Crazy Mountain Brewery and listen to live music and sip on some free beer. Don’t miss this great opportunity to interact with other members of Eagle County that are just as passionate about locally grown food!

            We cannot wait to see you and your family at our fun free day tomorrow!

Bare Roots Harvest Summit Schedule

8:30-9AM – Registration, coffee & light breakfast

9-9:15 – Opening Remarks, Bare Roots Mission, Vision & Goals

9:20-9:50 – Making Global Connections Engagement Activity

9:55-10:25 – Panel  Land Management to Support Local Food

10:30-11 – Panel  Supporting Local Food through Education & Outreach

11:05-11:35 – Break Out Sessions

11:45-12:30 –  Lunch!

12:30-1:00 – Panel  Local Food Supply & Business

1:05-1:35 – Panel  Healthy Food Access within Community

1:40-2:10 – Panel  Growing for Therapy & Nature Connection

2:15-2:45 – Break Out Sessions

2:50-3:30 – Collaboration & Closing Remarks

4-6:00PM – After Party at Crazy Mountain Brewery


Introducing Your Community Food Security Leaders

As I sat waiting in the open-air conference space at the Vail ValleySalvation Army headquarters in Avon for formally, Mountain Harvest Coalition’s weekly coffee-catch up to begin, I found myself full of curiosity as to what impact more dedicated participation on my part would bring to the group. I came across this assemblage of community change-makers a couple years ago when I was invited to attend their spring summit to speak about a garden project I was facilitating for a local elementary school. Since then, this group now known as Bare Roots, an assemblage of committed volunteers passionate about food security, sustainable food systems and policy, has become a well-spring source of inspiration.

I came to the Vail Valley 4 years ago to work for a non-profit science and sustainability education center, where I continue to coordinate an after-school science enrichment program for elementary school girls. Although in line with my passion for teaching the sciences, there was something missing, some purpose I was not yet fulfilling. So, I began implementing sustainability best practices into my curriculum and sought opportunities to help foster sustainable development in schools and throughout the community, taking on a bit more than my regular daily duties in order to spread awareness and understanding about this movement I cared so deeply about. Fast forward a year and I found myself presenting briefly about my school garden project at the annual Harvest Summit, a gathering of master gardeners, local food businesses, land managers, non-profit representatives, and a variety of other entrepreneurs in sustainable development. This gathering, put on by group volunteers, prompted engaging dialogue on how to best support and serve one another in endeavors relating to sustainable food systems and how to engage and educate the community at large in these initiatives. There was a general feeling of hope and perseverance that was quite infectious and I was immediately motivated to be part of this network of inspiring people.

My involvement with this group has been slow and steady. Some members became great allies for me in starting the school garden, providing hands on help, curriculum and other resources and connecting me with other passionate community members. In return, I began volunteering my time at the community gardens supported by the group. Another year of building relationships and learning more about the work with Salvation Army Vail and other collaborative partnerships, I decided I wanted to be more directly involved. At my first official meet up, I was introduced to the main group, made up of interns, AmeriCorps VISTAs, super moms, entrepreneurs, and educators. The group is small, but fierce. In roughly 10 years of operation, they solidified their major fiscal partnership with the Vail Valley Salvation Army, started a community garden in Avon to support the “Produce for Pantries” program, built a green house on site, created a regional food shed map, connected community gardens and local gardeners together, raised support for local farmers and amped up their “Growing Gardeners” pre-school program. This spring, they will once again be hosting AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC), a program that engages 18- to 24-year-olds in team-based national and community service with a focus on sustainable food system development, education and outreach. With dirt on their hands and full hearts, this group has revolutionized the idea of nourishment as food for both body and soul.

I couldn’t be more excited to see what the future holds for Bare Roots. The group’s mission to foster healthy food access in Eagle County and the surrounding region, in support of sustainable food practice and to grow community and confidence through education, outreach and partnership, has become much more vital as we begin to see the issues of the 21st century take shape and more heavily affect our mountain community in a variety of ways. I am humbled and honored to be part of a group that supports positive transformation and equitable access to healthy food for all AND a bright sustainable future!

Interested in learning more…feel free to email the blog’s author, Nicole at nicabrams@gmail.com