Like many of you, I have stressed over my garden this year. I had mentioned in a previous article that my garden was not growing – even with silver bells and cockle shells – like I wanted it to. But then came the rains, along with the e-mails and phone calls full of suggestions, and the garden seems to have taken an all-or-nothing attitude and is growing at full production.
So as I sit on the front porch writing this article, I am distracted by the gigantic squash plants and imagining gallons of zucchini-green chile soup and loaves upon loaves of bread. As the mind continues to wander, I start thinking on a larger scale about local foods and how all of us can help support our local food economy.
One thing all of us can do is to find time while we are at the La Plata County Fair and visit the animals. Many of the kids – 4-H and FFA, alike – devote hundreds of hours into taking care of the animals. But we also need to see, and promote, the larger picture of agriculture in our area. These young adults will hopefully be one of the faces of agriculture in the future, and we need to let them know that we support the idea of local production.
After the Fair, the CSU Extension office and Healthy Lifestyle La Plata will be putting on a number of events to showcase locally grown food.
On Aug. 28, Chris Crowl from Cosmopolitan restaurant and Vera Hansen from Cyprus Cafe will compete in the first of two cook-offs at the third Annual Iron Horse Chef Competition at the Durango Farmers Market. One of the best spectator events of the year, the Iron Horse Chef is about having fun. We also try to show off the spectrum of local goodies you buy (farmers market), how to prepare them (amazing chefs), and how to support local agriculture (farms and ranches). The winner of that event will go against the defending champion, Ryan Lowe of the Ore House, on September 11th.
In its fourth year, the Tour de Farms, which highlights what is unique, healthy and homegrown about our agricultural community, will be held September 5th. This year we will have two separate rides – an in-town, five-mile “family friendly” route that will visit public and private gardens, and a 30-mile leisurely ride through the Animas Valley to visit James Ranch, Linnaea Farms and others.
Register for the rides at www.heal thylifestylelaplata.org. It’s best to sign up early, because it typically fills up quickly.
The Eat Local Challenge, which will be held September 5 through 12, is a celebration of local food – our gardens and farms, our local restaurants and chefs, and our locally owned, independent retailers. Think of the Eat Local Challenge as a pledge drive to support the local food economy. After this weekend, visit www.local-first.org to read about the ways to step up and make a difference.
Share the food, share the bounty and share some of that hard-earned dollar.
And don’t be surprised if you find zucchini on your doorstep.
firstname.lastname@example.org. co.us or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.