LiftUp hoping Tower Gardens play key role in providing fresh produce for food bank | SteamboatToday.com

LiftUp hoping Tower Gardens play key role in providing fresh produce for food bank

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — LiftUp of Routt County’s new greenhouse has not been built yet but that has not slowed the organization's drive to have locally grown produce available in the food bank year round.

On Wednesday, Jeff Modesitt, LiftUp's community support manager, joined Juice Plus distributors Craig and Andy Kennedy as they put together a Tower Garden just inside the store's front door. The tower was donated to LiftUp by UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, who wasn't using it.

And thanks to another donation, the food bank will have five towers producing fresh produce to fill the shelves by early next spring.

"The whole mission is to get better, higher quality fruit and vegetables into our communities for those people who are in need," Modesitt said.

Modesitt said the donation of tower gardens to LiftUp is an example of how people in the community have come forward to help with the nonprofit’s mission to produce locally-produced fresh produce for its food bank.

LiftUp also got a hand from Andy Kennedy, who is a part of the local food coalition and a senior sales coordinator with Juice Plus. She posting on Facebook asking people to help LiftUp grow its own food.

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The post got the attention of one of the couple’s longtime friends, Drew Brilakis, who used his connections to find Camille Ditrani, who was willing to donate the money to purchase four Tower Gardens and pay to keep them running. Each tower cost about $800 with lights and an extension.

“I had been talking to LiftUp before Jeff and Sue came on,” Andy said. “I told them what a great idea it would be to be able to grow food for all of their clients, but you need a lot of towers to grow all the food that they need.”

Four of the Tower Gardens will be placed in LiftUp's greenhouse when it is finished in the spring, and the first tower will remain near the entrance of the food bank.

Modesitt said the food bank will recruit volunteers to tend to the towers and also help grow food in 15 composting soil towers and raised beds to produce fresh produce for the bank. The tower gardens will be able to grow around 140 plants. 

"The idea is that our clients can work on producing food for themselves whether it be a garden tower, a vertical composting soil tower or a raised bed, " Modesitt said. "We want to experiment with different types of growing whether it be water or soil … we are making it up as we go."

Andy Kennedy said she believes the Tower Gardens represent the future of growing in Northwest Colorado and other similar climates.

“We don't have the seasons here; we don't have the space to grow as much food as this planet needs,” Kennedy said. “I definitely saw what the potential for this could be, and the limitlessness of this was super exciting."

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.

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