Writing columns while on spring break is tough.
Finding an outlet for the laptop on the beach can be a serious challenge; making sure the margarita doesn't spill and
fry the motherboard is a risk that I am willing to take. And it always taxes my brain trying to think of ideas for all
of you still dealing with snow, mud, rain, sleet and cold
temperatures while the waves tickle my toes.
Okay, maybe I am stretching the truth a little bit here. Maybe I am not really somewhere warm (although I am still
confused as to why spring break is scheduled the first week of March when it is still winter throughout the area). To
be honest, my family decided to spend part of the break in the destination hotspot of Cedaredge, Colorado.
There is no beach, the margaritas are premade and the only thing tickling my feet is the feeling coming back to my toes
as I take off my ski boots.
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the importance of establishing and supporting one's food shed."
In La Plata County, we are fortunate to have a community that has a good understanding about what it means to sustain
local agriculture, to support local businesses that use locally made goods and have a greater appreciation as to the
importance of knowing where our food comes from.
Fortunately, we also have a partnership in our area that is charged with making sure these principles are addressed.
Growing Partners of Southwest Colorado is made up of nonprofits and service organizations dedicated to implementing
sustainable local food programs that reach all incomes, ages and cultures.
About six years ago, Growing Partners obtained a U.S. Department of Agriculture Community Food Project Competitive
Grant to complete a Community Food Assessment in La Plata County. It's a unique, diverse and incredible asset that
identified the current needs and resources of the local food system, developed a community-based definition to address
and improve food security in La Plata County and proposed a series of diverse food projects to address the issues
That was quite the undertaking. But Growing Partners did it, and it is probably one of the most utilized and useful
documents that those of us who work with local food issues have in our toolboxes.
The partnership is wide-reaching and includes a number of nonprofits and service agencies, institutes of higher
education (including Colorado State Extension), regional school districts and farmers markets.
Recently, Growing Partners was awarded its second Community Food Project Competitive Grant from the USDA. This
three-year grant focuses on connecting individuals in our community at the greatest risk of food insecurity to healthy,local, affordable and culturally appropriate food resources. Growing Partners also will use the previously developed
Community Food Assessment to implement stages of local food projects and programs in our area.
I am proud to be part of this partnership. If you are interested in finding out who the other partners are, or how you
can be involved, please contact the project manager, Katy Pepinsky, at
firstname.lastname@example.org@co.laplata.co.us or 382-6464. Darrin Parmenter is director and horticulture agent of
the La Plata County