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!

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