SustainAbility: Look for alternatives to factory-farm food
Many of you have recently seen the eye-opening documentaries “Dirt! The Movie” and “Food, Inc.”
With spring rapidly approaching, now is the perfect time to look at local alternatives to food grown on factory farms.
You can become more closely involved in food production even if you are not ready to start a home garden by joining Community Supported Agriculture, CSA, or a community garden.
The Cameron Place CSA located in Palisade provides local families and businesses, such as restaurants and bed and breakfasts, with locally grown, organic produce. The farm grows fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers on more than seven acres.
According to the Web site, Cameron Place utilizes “sustainable techniques emphasizing long-term productivity and health of the land.”
Community Supported Agriculture works because community members make a financial investment in the farm prior to the start of the growing season. In return, members receive a share of produce for the 18-week period from early June to early October. Several sizes and types of shares are available.
This year, our local CSA also requires a small work investment, as little as two hours of farm-related work over the course of the season.
Gearing up for their sixth growing season, the staff is still offering shares at this time. Membership Coordinator Melanie Ettenger said spots are filling up at a steady pace and anticipates reaching the goal of 150 shares by the end of March. For more information, go to http://www.cameronplacecsa.com or call Ettenger at 402-8364.
Growing your own produce at a community garden is another option for getting in touch with your food.
Last year, Cameron Place helped launch a community garden in Grand Junction on the north side of Main Street between 10th and 11th streets.
This year, Cameron Place staff will help get things going but plans on maintaining minimal oversight as community gardeners increase responsibility. You can even arrange for work at the community garden to be applied as work investment for the CSA. Go to http://www.gjmainstreetcommunitygarden.com for more information.
Potentially, there is another opportunity for community gardening this year.
If all goes as planned, the new Grand Junction Community Garden at the Library will be a combined effort of Colorado State University and Mesa County Libraries with an assist from the city of Grand Junction.
Curt Swift, CSU Tri River Area Extension agent, is working hard to secure a lease agreement so plots can be available for planting mid-April.
Once an agreement is reached, the land will be cleared and prepared. CSU will spearhead the project, shouldering the cost for irrigation lines, coordination and instruction.
The garden will be located directly north of the Central Library on Ouray Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets.
The plans include 24 plots about 20 feet by 20 feet. There will be a small fee for use of the good-sized plots and more than one family can work each plot.
Gardeners will sign a contract establishing a commitment to the land through the growing season. They will be also be responsible for providing tools and seeds needed for clearing off any remaining debris and planting.
The extension service will provide lots of support including workshops during the growing season.
Swift said aspiring gardeners who attended his four workshops at the library were given first dibs to sign up for the project. About a dozen people have expressed interest in having a plot in the budding community garden.
Kathy Portner, with the city of Grand Junction, said the city will put up signs and provide water for the first year of the project to educate the public about wise use of water for gardening.
Of course, you can also frequent farmers markets or purchase organic products at Natural Grocers and other grocery stores to minimize exposure to industrial agriculture.