LiveWell Northwest Colorado: Plant it, grow it, eat it, share it

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What better way to add more veggies into your daily meals than by eating ones that you have grown?

Gardening is an active hobby that can help instill lifelong healthy eating habits.

LiveWell Northwest Colorado

This weekly column about health issues publishes on Mondays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

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Barb Parnell

Gardening can be as simple as planting in pots that sit in front of your windows or growing in large plastic containers that can be taken in and out of the house every day, or as complex as building a large garden in your backyard or at a neighborhood site.

There has been an overwhelming interest in gardening in the valley this past year. LiveWell Northwest Colorado recently conducted a brief survey to identify priority projects for 2015, and school and community gardens were among the top priorities.

In addition, we heard about some great garden projects that already have started or are close to being shovel ready. Some examples of just a few of these local garden projects include:

• The Routt County Department of Human Services is working with the Master Gardeners to develop gardens on their new site to be used for programs such as Bridges Out of Poverty.

• Horizons Specialized Services plans to develop a second garden at one of its houses.

• Hilltop Apartments are at capacity with their neighborhood garden program.

• LIFT-UP of Routt County is looking forward to developing a garden program at their Steamboat Springs site.

• There are community gardens in Steamboat Springs (CSU Extension), Oak Creek and Hayden.

• The town of Oak Creek’s recreation program has a number of gardens projects including one with seniors at the Community Center.

• A new “Garden in a Box” program was developed by a Colorado Mountain College student and it is being used by Bridges Out of Poverty clients.

• Raised-bed gardens at the Igloo at Howelsen for Steamboat Springs youth program use.

• The Steamboat Springs Middle School is anticipating developing a garden program this fall.

Want to learn how to garden in our climate (zones 3 and 4)? Check out:

• The Steamboat Springs Farmers Market every Saturday where CSU Extension Master Gardeners are available to answer your questions.

• “Plant it, Grow it, Eat it” for a list of gardening classes and a Gardening 101 Class resource guide.

Information about suggested vegetables for Northwest Colorado, frost protection and harvesting times for Northwest Colorado, and instructions for creating a raised bed garden.

Information on raised-bed gardening.

• The planning worksheets for your vegetable garden and tips for planting, weeding, soil, composting and more.

Want to enjoy the bounty from other gardeners?

• Join the Yampa Valley Co-Op, www.yampavalleycoop.com, and enjoy local products from farms and ranches in the Yampa Valley.

• Shop at the farmers markets in Steamboat Springs and Oak Creek, local farm stands and businesses throughout the summer.

• Look for local products on restaurant menus.

• Order food twice each month from Bountiful Baskets, www.bountifulbaskets.org.

Want to share your bounty?

Grow a Row for LIFT-UP and donate the extra produce so that others can enjoy the “fruits” of your garden.

Have time or financial resources to support garden projects throughout the county? If you have a passion for gardening, healthy eating, gardening expertise, hands-on experience or financial resources, contact us to support our local community efforts to develop thriving garden projects.

Take the easy, affordable first or next step to eat more fruits and vegetables — grow a veggie and/or buy local produce. Remember, 5-2-1-0 includes eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

Barb Parnell, with LiveWell Northwest Colorado, can be contacted by email at livewellbparnell@gmail.com.

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