Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Crisis = Change = Opportunity

Given the fallout in our global financial markets and a new administration in Washington, we have a small window of opportunity to advocate for meaningful change in our agricultural system.

Here are two ways you can make your wishes known to the the administration:
  • If you would like to encourage President-elect Obama to choose sustainably minded Under Secretaries in the new USDA, please sign this grassroots petition from Food Democracy Now. This one is time sensitive, so act now!
  • If you'd like to endorse a set of principles to create a national sustainable food and agriculture policy, check out Food Declaration.Org.

Pass these along to everyone you know. If we can garner a million signatures or more, folks in Washinston will have to sit up and take notice.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

FeedDenver: Check This Out!

I recently met with two incredible entrepreneurs who are working to start an urban/vertical farm in Denver. You can visit their website at If you've never heard of vertical farms, you can take a YouTube video tour here.

Why build a vertical farm in the middle of the city? Here are some reasons to think about, compliments of vertical

"By the year 2050, nearly 80% of the earth's population will reside in urban centers. Applying the most conservative estimates to current demographic trends, the human population will increase by about 3 billion people during the interim. An estimated 109 hectares of new land (about 20% more land than is represented by the country of Brazil) will be needed to grow enough food to feed them, if traditional farming practices continue as they are practiced today. At present, throughout the world, over 80% of the land that is suitable for raising crops is in use (sources: FAO and NASA). Historically, some 15% of that has been laid waste by poor management practices.

"The concept of indoor farming is not new, since hothouse production of tomatoes, a wide variety of herbs, and other produce has been in vogue for some time. What is new is the urgent need to scale up this technology to accommodate another 3 billion people. An entirely new approach to indoor farming must be invented, employing cutting edge technologies. The Vertical Farm must be efficient (cheap to construct and safe to operate). Vertical farms, many stories high, will be situated in the heart of the world's urban centers. If successfully implemented, they offer the promise of urban renewal, sustainable production of a safe and varied food supply (year-round crop production), and the eventual repair of ecosystems that have been sacrificed for horizontal farming."

Other advantages of vertical farms:
  • Year-round crop production; 1 indoor acre is equivalent to 4-6 outdoor acres or more, depending upon the crop (e.g., strawberries: 1 indoor acre = 30 outdoor acres)
  • No weather-related crop failures due to droughts, floods, pests
  • VF virtually eliminates agricultural runoff by recycling black water
  • VF returns farmland to nature, restoring ecosystem functions and services
  • VF greatly reduces the incidence of many infectious diseases that are acquired at the agricultural interface
  • VF converts black and gray water into potable water by collecting the water of evapotranspiration
  • VF adds energy back to the grid via methane generation from composting non-edibleparts of plants and animals
  • VF dramatically reduces fossil fuel use (no tractors, plows, shipping.)
  • VF converts abandoned urban properties into food production centers
  • VF creates sustainable environments for urban centers
  • VF creates new employment opportunities

It's exciting to see this idea taking root in our city. The thing that most appeals to me is the opportunity to build and strenghten local communities around food production -- the one absolutely recession-proof industry.

FeedDenver has linked up with Transitions Denver and SPROUT (Sustainable People Reaching Out for Urban Transformation) to join energies with others working toward similar urban agricultural goals. Cirrently, they are evaluating sites, gathering numbers, networking with neighbors, professionals, and civic leaders. They are also seeking assistance with financial projections (especially Market Farm or CSA numbers), design/architecture/concept drawings, and input from an experienced permaculturist/bio-intensivist/hydro-aquaponicist.

If you are interested in getting involved in this project, email them at

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Celebrate the Winter Solstice

What gardener does not celebrate the coming and passing of the winter solstice?

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I offer the following -- in celebration and thanksgiving.

The Shortest Day
by Susan Cooper

"So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,

And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!

All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!"

Wishing you all the blessings of the season.....and longer, warmer days as we go forward.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Gearing Up for the Next Growing Season

It's never too early to start planning your very own garden. Before you know it, we'll be getting our first seed catalogs in the mail! Meanwhile, there are lots of training opportunities around for folks who want to learn how to grow their own vegetables.

Here's one that's near and dear to my heart:

Denver Urban Gardens Master Community Gardener program.
This is a 10-week course designed to train community leaders in community organizing as well as basic horticultural skills growing vegetables and fruits in Colorado. This hands-on course teaches participants the skills they need to create and maintain strong, vibrant and sustainable community gardens. Applications are now being accepted until January 16, 2009 and classes start in February. For an informational flyer, click here. For an application and class schedule, click here.

Here are some cool classes offered by Denver Botanic Gardens:

Sustainable Greenhouse Design
December 14, 2008, 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Instructors: Penn and Cord Parmenter
Morrison Center
Have you ever wondered if it could be done? Can you create a greenhouse that needs NO supplemental heating year round? - the answer is yes!! This greenhouse design, involving stored water as thermal mass and our bountiful Colorado sun, can be used with recycled materials or new. You can apply this method to pre-existing greenhouses, attached or single units. Water is the most efficient thermal mass but there are many other options as well - learn how to use them while recycling all kinds of materials. The Parmenters built their greenhouse out of 90% recycled materials and it sits on top of a decomposed granite mountain at 8,120 ft. This technique works at any altitude. Fresh, organic food year round in Colorado is a sure thing - we have more than enough sun. There's always something to eat!

Members, $49.00
Non Members, $56.00
Day of Class Member Fee, $59.00
Day of Class Non Member Fee, $66.00

Walk-in registrations will be charged a $10 late fee.

Getting Your Garden Ready for Spring
January 20, 2009, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Classroom B, Denver Botanic Gardens
It's the dead of winter now, but spring prep chores will soon begin! Just as you had to put your garden "to bed" for winter, there are many important tasks to help your garden wake up and get ready for the growing season. This class will cover undoing mulch and compost, amending soil, garden clean-up, rose care, perennials, what to prune or not to prune, lawn preparation, irrigation tune-up, cleaning your tools, and more. FEES: $24 member, $29 non-member. Day of class: $34/$39. Instructor: Jackie Burghardt

Sustainability Film Series: Sister Bee
February 19, 2009, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

Denver Botanic Gardens
Enjoy a lyrical and beautiful documentary (filmed in Boulder) about six women beekeepers who encounter startling beauty and spiritual truth in their work with honeybees. We are fortunate to be able to present a special panel discussion with some of the beekeepers themselves, as well as Laura Tyler, the filmmaker, following the film. Don’t miss this memorable and moving event. $8 member, $10 non-member. Space is limited: register early!

And here are some other options -- presented by Transition Boulder County:

Bringing Transition Home: Case Studies in Permaculture
January 14, 2009 from 7pm to 9pm
Boulder Meadows Community Room
How can humans live on Earth in harmony, abundance, grace and ease for eons into the future? Sandy Cruz and Barbara Mueser will discuss how the Permaculture approach has inspired transition in their personal lives, creating small local changes which ripple out to the wider environment. By transforming and connecting diverse facets of our lives — love of nature, food strategies, building techniques, natural healing, indigenous wisdom, new inventions, finance, transportation, community and more — we can regenerate landscapes and culture, moving towards abundance for all. This event, organized by High Altitude Permaculture & Transition Boulder County, is free and open to the public.

Solar Greenhouse Design Weekend with Sandy Cruz and Jeff Graef
February 7, 2009 at 10am to February 8, 2009 at 4:30pm

Location to be announced
Use the winter season to design an integrated, sustainable greenhouse using passive and active solar architecture, slanted or vertical glazing, and earth-friendly building materials. Learn solar design principles along with the nuts and bolts of greenhouse materials and technologies. We’ll consider the strengths and weaknesses of several existing greenhouses, and demonstrate Permaculture site analysis and brainstorming techniques and work on solar greenhouse designs. Please contact Transition Boulder County to register.

Garden Design and Planning - a la Permaculture, with Sandy Cruz and Jason Gerhardt
March 14, 2009 from 10am to 4:30pm –
Locations to be announced
It’s time to begin creating this year’s garden! Learn to imitate Nature by establishing garden polycultures that produce a diverse mix of vegetables, fruits, herbs and flowers.We’ll take a virtual tour of Sandy’s garden, consider springtime gardening priorities, and look at strategies for working with our local Rocky Mountain climate. Using Permaculture design principles, we’ll consider where to place the garden, how to build it, what to plant in it, and where to obtain seeds, bedding plants, shrubs and trees. Participants will plant seeds to take home, and will learn how to care for young bedding plants. Please contact
Transition Boulder County to register.

Permaculture through the Seasons - An 8 Month Design Certification Course
March 21, 2009 at 9am

Location to be announced.
How can humans live on Earth in harmony, abundance, grace and ease for eons into the future?Permaculture is the art of creating living ecosystems that imitate nature to provide food, fuel and shelter. Using innovative and indigenous agricultural techniques as well as appropriate technologies, course participants will learn to move towards living sustainably. Through multifaceted learning techniques — hands-on projects, tours, slide shows, exercises, lectures and readings — students will acquire knowledge of Permaculture Design for our Rocky Mountain bioregion and beyond. Course meets the third weekend of each month through October 18th.
Program Cost is $950.00 if registered by 1/21/09, $1050.00 if registered by 2/21/09, and $1200.00 after 2/21. Work/study scholarships available based on financial need and skills. To register, contact Sandy Cruz at 303-459-3494. More info at

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Locally Grown Christmas Trees

Thanks to the Colorado Department of Agriculture -- here's a list of Xmas Tree farms and providers in Colorado:


Palizzi Farm
15380 Bromley Lane (6th & Bromley Lane)
(303) 659-1970

April 15 - December 24
Daily, 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Christmas trees.

U.S. Hwy. 85 north to Bromley Lane, right 1 mile. East side of the King Soopers Shopping Center.


Munson's Farm
7355 Valmont Rd.
Boulder, CO 80301
(303) 442-5330

December 1 - December 21Daily, 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.

U.S. 36 to Boulder, turn right on Pearl, proceed east till it becomes Valmont. Northwest corner of Valmont and 75th Street.


Delicious Orchards
1450 Hwy. 133
(970) 527-1110
Web site:

Daily, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Christmas trees.

1 1/2 miles west (down valley) from Paonia on Hwy. 133.


Tree Land Christmas Trees
1710 S. Sante Fe. (Sante Fe & Cherokee St.)
Denver, CO 80120
(720) 234-5988

November 20 - December 25
9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Tree Land Christmas Trees is Colorado's Largest Retail lot, ovr 3000 trees to chose from and 500 trees standing daily! Tree Land also has the nicest wreaths and garland at the best prices.

1-25 to Sante Fe to Cherokee St., 1 block north of Evans off ramp next to Scrubs Car Wash.


(720) 207-3642 (call first)
Web site:

Daily, dawn - dusk

Christmas trees.

Located 40 miles east of Denver. 1-70 to Exit 340, west to CR 153, right on CR 162, left on CR 147, right on CR 160.


Luckylure Holiday Activity Center
5231 Hwy. 73
Evergreen, CO 80439
(303) 674-5777
Web site:

November 28 - December 20
Monday - Thursday, 12 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Friday - Sunday, 9 a.m. - 9 p.m.
Santa vists Saturday and Sunday, 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.

A festive Colorado Mountain atmosphere with a creekside meadow. Free stockings for all kids, free refreshments, free 2009 calendars. Trees are all fresh pre-cut. Featuring Colorado Native and farm trees, wreaths, garland and gift shop.

I-70 to Evergreen Parkway (Highway 74) to Highway 73, right 1 mile.

Tree Land Christmas Trees
12390 West 64th Ave.
Arvada, CO 80004(720) 219-3471

November 22 - December 25
9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Tree Land Christmas Trees offer the nicest and freshest Christmas Trees available as well as wreaths and garland. Tree Land Christmas Trees are cut months after large retail stores for freshness through Christmas. We will also be offering free hot chocolate.

Southeast corner of 64th and Ward, directly in front of King Soopers.

Tree Land Christmas Trees
Alameda and Wadsworth
Lakewood, CO 80226
(720) 234-5988

November 28 - December 25
9 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Tree Land Christmas Trees offer the nicest and freshest Christmas Trees available as well as wreaths and garland. Tree Land Christmas Trees are cut months after large retail stores for freshness through Christmas.

Alameda and Wadsworth. Southeast corner of Belmar Shopping Center parking lot.


Colt Ranch Bed & Breakfast
10,000 County Rd. 43.6
(719) 845-0353
Web site:

Daily, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Christmas trees.

15 miles west of Trinidad on Hwy. 12. CR 43.6 is 0.7 miles west of Ringo's Market in Segundo, CO.


Covered Bridge Ranch
17249 6250 Rd.Montrose
(970) 240-0106E-mail:

Starting November 28
Wednesday - Sunday, 10 a.m - 5 p.m.

Choose-n-cut Christmas tress. Public restrooms and picnic area.

West on Highway 90 from Montrose to Dave Wood Rd., turn south to large stone and log. Entrance gate on right side of road.

Green Place Ranch, LLC
(888) 786-3374 (call first)
Web site:

Year-round, except holidays
Monday - Friday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Christmas trees.

Hwy. 348 west, left on 55 DD Rd. to Fallion Rd. (right) to 54.25 Rd. DD (left). To BLM Rd. 3581 (up 5.8 miles to ranch entrance).


Christmas Tree Acres
22911 WCR 39
La Salle, CO 80645
(970) 284-6061

November 28 - December 21(Closed December 15 - December 19)
Weekends: 9 a.m. 5 p.m.Weekdays: 12 p.m - 5 p.m.

We provide saws, drinks, wreaths, stands, shaking and baling of trees.

Take Highway 85 to La Salle, turn east at stoplight, turn right onto Main Street, drive 1 miles south on Main Street to farm entrance.

Fern Hill Farm
2001 Fern Ave.
Greeley, CO 80631
(970) 352-4478

November 28 - December 22Tuesday - Sunday, 11 a.m. - dark

Hay rides, hot cider, cookies, gift shop, fire pit, wreaths (made with Colorado boughs).

On Highway 34 go 2.4 miles past the junction of Highway 85 and 34. Turn left on Business Route Highway 34, go 1/2 mile to East 24th St., turn right a short distance to Fern Ave., turn left 1/2 mile to farm.

Pope Farms Produce
6501 W. 28th St.
(970) 590-9124

April - December
9 a.m. - 6 p.m.

Christmas trees.

On the corner of Hwy. 34 bypass and 65th Ave. in the soutwest part of Greeley.