You know time flies when you’re daydreaming in your office (extremely momentarily) about a topic for the monthly newspaper article and you see a certificate on the wall recognizing five years of service – and it’s dated Nov. 1, 2013.
A lot can happen in 10 years. Both of my children are now over 5 feet tall. I have less hair (on my head). I went from solely drinking craft beer to Coors Banquet. I’m hopefully a bit smarter (keep your comments about beer choice to yourself), although I’m having a tougher time remembering why.
In my time here, I feel like we’ve made a bit of difference and been part of numerous events, programs, workshops, classes and educational opportunities. We’ve helped put on 10 Tour de Farms, nine Apple Days Festivals, eight Iron Horse Chef Cooking Competitions, seven Homegrown Food Retreats, six Backyard Food Production Series (see what I’m doing here?), five Farmer-Chef Connection Meet-and-Greets, four Integrated Land Management Workshops, three Building Farmers Series, two Small Acreage Workshops, and one super unforgettable “How Veggies, Fruits and Flowers are Judged at the La Plata County Fair” presentation where no one showed up.
But in all seriousness, I’m proud of what the Colorado State University Extension is and what we do here in La Plata County. I’m proud of the work we do with the schools and school gardens. Even though these growing spaces aren’t always an easy fit in school curriculums, they provide a space for education and outreach, and maybe most importantly, a space for teachers, students and parents to get away from the stressors of life, if even for a couple minutes.
I’m proud that I’ve taught almost 250 Colorado Master Gardener students and those students have given almost 20,000 hours of volunteer time here in Southwest Colorado.
I’m honored to be included in collaborations and partnerships with groups such as Growing Partners, the Durango Botanical Society, The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado, Produce Bounty and Farm to School. I’m glad that I don’t have to do all of this myself as organizations such as the Old Fort, soil conservation districts, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Colorado State Forest Service and the La Plata County Weed Department have taken many of the site visits, samples and questions that I didn’t know or couldn’t answer.
I sit here with no intentions of going anywhere else and look forward to embarking on another 10 years with CSU Extension.
And it all starts this fall with what I hope is the match that ignites this community, the Regional Food Recovery Hub. Every year, in every class, I hop on my soapbox and tell people that they need to grow more food for those who either can’t grow their own, or in many cases, can’t even find nutritious food. I remind my students that not everyone has the same opportunity when it comes to what they can afford to eat, and that even though we are in an arid, high desert, we can still produce more food than we know what do with.
So keep your ears and eyes open. We plan on making a difference. We plan on getting more fresh, nutritious and local fruits and vegetables to more people – and less to the landfill and to bears. And that’s a good thing.
Cheers to 10 more years.
Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at email@example.com or 382-6464.Darrin Parmenter