Deep Roots hosts talk tonight

Movement forming to cultivate local food production

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— There was a time when residents of Northwest Colorado had no choice but to rely almost entirely on themselves for their daily bread.

Now, the energy costs associated with transporting processed foods to market in Steamboat Springs have led a group of concerned residents to refocus on the local production of food.

Deep Roots Local Food Trust is hosting longtime Palisade peach farmer Thomas Cameron at 7 p.m. today at the Steamboat Springs Community Center. He is expected to lead a discussion about reconnecting to the land and community-supported agriculture.

Antonio Marxuach, one of the organizers, said Deep Roots recently was founded on the premise that a thriving and sustainable local food economy is a vital element of a healthy community in Northwest Colorado.

"Last fall, Erica Fogue of Epilogue Books contacted me to lead a discussion group on "Omnivore's Dilemma," Marxuach said. The book by Michael Pollan is a best-seller that portrays the nation's industrialized food chain in ways that most consumers did not previously understand.

The group went on to tackle other books, including Bill McKibben's "Deep Economy" and a variety of documentary films about economic globalization,

factory farming and the environmental impacts of those trends.

"This left us deeply concerned about the sustainability of our own practices here in the Yampa Valley," Marxuach said.

Marxuach, Fogue and Stuart Orzach formed a group called the Gracious Living Institute of Steamboat Springs, or GLISS, to champion the cause for locally produced food.

At about the same time, another longtime local with a passion for food, Nancy Kramer, was organizing a forum called, "What's in our Foodshed?"

Kramer said Northwest Colorado Products, an initiative of the Community Agriculture Alliance, organized that program, along with Routt County's CSU Cooperative Extension Office and the Natural Resources Conservation District.

Deep Roots represents the combination of those various initiatives, Marxuach said.

Community-supported agriculture involves a group of individuals pledging support to a farm so that producers and consumers mutually can support one another by sharing the risks and benefits of food production.

In a typical model, Marxuach said, the shareholders of a farm or garden pledge in advance to cover the anticipated costs of the agriculture operation and the farmer's salary. In return, they share in the farm's produce throughout the growing season.

They also derive benefits

from the experience of reconnecting with the land and participating in food production.

Those involved in Deep Roots intend to look for ways to form new partnerships, open a community conversation about the value of a local food system, create educational opportunities and demonstrate the value of farm practices that replenish the land while producing healthy foods.

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