Lists. This time of year, I tend to make them.
Deep into the “educational season,” it’s easy for me to get confused about where I am supposed to be and whom I am supposed to be talking to.
Talks to garden clubs and at workshops, webinars and Master Gardener classes fill the week(s) pretty quickly. Top that with the kids’ after-school schedules, and there is always a chance I will plan to take Elena to baseball (she hates baseball) or Asher to Stillwater (Asher, like his father, is not so musically inclined).
But come eight days from now (who’s counting?), I will be sitting on a beach reflecting on what we here at the Colorado University Extension Office have accomplished, what we could do better and what we can focus on during next year’s “education season.”
Great. Another list.
Just the other day, I came across the National Restaurant Association’s forecast (aka “list”) of top culinary trends for 2015, and I was amazed at how it mimics the local food scene at our restaurants, stores, farmers markets, schools and gardens.
Some highlights (and their rankings) from the chef’s poll:
1. Locally sourced meats: Here we have no shortage of local beef, lamb, pork and wild game. In recent years, I have been fortunate to fill my freezer with a quarter cow that was raised, fed and processed locally.
2. Locally grown produce: From the backyard to the community garden to the area’s new and established vegetable farms, there is no shortage of local produce come summer. But you have to stay calm. Our fickle growing season, especially in May and June, can force palettes to be patient.
4. Healthful kids’ meals: While it may be easy to bemoan school lunches, don’t forget that our local school districts dedicate significant amounts of their budgets to purchasing locally grown and raised products. “Farm to school” has become common language, and it’s not unusual to see meals using ingredients from our farms, ranches and even school gardens.
9. Food waste reduction/management: Time for the soapbox. Composting food waste can be a challenge in our less-than-ideal climate. Low precipitation and humidity, short growing seasons and colder winters can make this process a multi-year endeavor. But it’s worth it, and more of us should do it.
But for those of you who can’t, it would be great if the city did. A municipal composting facility could divert significant amounts of waste that go into our landfills. (According to the EPA, yard trimmings and food waste accounted for 28 percent of municipal solid waste in 2012). And while I’m sure that there are multiple challenges associated with something like this (animals, space, above mentioned climate and, of course, funding), a progressive community like Durango would most likely embrace a commercial composting facility.
The rest of the list frequently mentioned seafood – locally sourced, non-traditional and sustainably harvested – and threw out romantic phrases like “house-made,” “artisan” and even “ethnically inspired breakfast items,” but it all can hit home.
Home – our farms, our ranches, our schools, our pantries and our plates. All of it is our home.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office.