Community Agriculture Alliance: Get to know more about local food

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Type “local food” into your favorite search engine, and more than 1.6 million results will be returned.

Everything from “why buy local” to debates about “what is local” can show up. It can be overwhelming, but don’t give up.

Here’s a brief update about what’s happening related to local food in the Yampa Valley.

Community Agriculture Alliance

This weekly column about agriculture issues is written by area farmers, ranchers and policymakers. It publishes on Fridays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

Type “local food” into your favorite search engine, and more than 1.6 million results will be returned.

Everything from “why buy local” to debates about “what is local” can show up. It can be overwhelming, but don’t give up.

Here’s a brief update about what’s happening related to local food in the Yampa Valley.

Starting with an overview: The Northwest Colorado Food Coalition has been meeting and working since 2012. This group includes many local organizations and individuals with a focus to “facilitate communication, collaboration and integrate solutions among individuals and organizations to develop and sustain a resilient food system in Northwest Colorado.”

So what does that mean? The bottom line is that the coalition has three working groups that include:

■ Food security for low-income residents;

■ Healthy eating education; and

■ Local food.

The local food task force is coordinated by Community Agriculture Alliance. Programs and activities related to local food focus on local food producers (farmers, ranchers, value-added production), consumers/general community members and the regulatory process related to local food production.

With that background, you still might wonder what is going on with local food. Here are a few of the events, programs and (hopefully) answers to the local food question.

Education and resources for local food producers

Most recently, the Community Agriculture Alliance coordinated a “Bringing Your Product to Market” panel discussion, and CSU Routt County Extension facilitated a “Cottage Food” workshop.

Additional planned topics include funding resources for local food production and an overview of the regulatory process in Routt County.

Plant it, grow it, eat it.

This is a collaborative poster including community education programs by the Master Gardeners of the CSU Routt County Extension, DIY Gardening Series by Yampatika, seed library at the Bud Werner Memorial Library and programs at the Yampa River Botanic Park. These are all great local opportunities to learn more about growing your own food.

Buy local, eat local

Two options to buy locally made/grown food include the Yampa Valley Coop, your local online food coop for buying and selling of local food. Learn more and join at www.yampavalleycoop.com.

There also is a locally grown produce booth at the Mainstreet Farmers Market this summer. We still are seeking additional growers/gardeners to participate, so for additional information, call Michele Meyer at 970-879-4370.

Get involved

The full Northwest Colorado Food Coalition meets quarterly, and meetings are open to the entire community (information can be found at www.rcextension.colostate.edu).

The Local Food Task Force also meets once a month and new volunteers who want to get involved with local food always are welcome (find more information at www.communityagalliance.org).

To summarize: If you’re interested in local food, you can learn more about how to grow your own, where to buy it from others and get involved. If you still have questions, call the Community Agriculture Alliance at 970-879-4370 or go online at www.communityagalliance.org.

Michele Meyer is the local food/products coordinator for the Community Agriculture Alliance.

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