LiftUp of Routt County plans new garden, greenhouse to bolster food bank | SteamboatToday.com

LiftUp of Routt County plans new garden, greenhouse to bolster food bank

LiftUp of Routt County is hoping a new community greenhouse and garden will place more locally grown produce on the shelves of area food banks.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — LiftUp of Routt County plans to break ground Wednesday, Aug. 23 on an idea they hope will be ground-breaking.

The idea involves construction of a new community greenhouse and garden that will offer community connections, educational opportunities and provide a way to fill the food bank's shelves with fresh produce year round.

Work on a new heating and cooling system, called a climate battery, is expected to take place the following Saturday. It will be the first phase of constructing an 800-square-foot greenhouse, including a 40-foot by 20-foot dome that will be surrounded by  raised  gardens that should be completed in time for the summer growing season.

"We are doing a ceremonial groundbreaking with the major contributors on Wednesday, and the actual earth moving is coming in on Saturday, and we will start building the climate battery," said Jeff Modesitt, LiftUp’s community support manager.

The idea of building a community greenhouse and garden is something LiftUp has been considering for some time, and Modesitt is excited to finally see construction begin in a lot located between the food bank and the United Companies property off of Curve Court.

"Once we install the climate battery, we will have to let the ground settle, then we can start building the frame and hopefully get to the stage where the walls are up before winter hits, but that is still to be determined," he said.

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The project, which is expected to cost between $20,000 and $25,000, is being built with the help of several local donors who share Modesitt's vision. United Companies, Wagner Rents, Colorado Group Realty, Innovative Ag, Central Electric and Robert Ellsworth of Boxcar Gardens have all donated to the project, and the cost of the greenhouse is almost completely covered.

In the future, Modesitt is hoping to involve Yampatika, CSU Master Gardeners and several professional growers to create an educational opportunity for members of the community, and of course, to make sure the growing operations are a success.

"First and foremost, we want to produce food for the food insecure in our community," Modesitt said. "I'm shooting for 400 pounds of produce on a fairly regular basis that will feed the food bank."

He is also hoping to get volunteers from LiftUp and the community to help grow and harvest the vegetables. 

"We want anybody in the community — those who really want to learn to garden — to come out and have a chance to learn from the experts,” Modesitt said. “It's a chance to ask questions and to be walked through the process by a Master Gardener."

Modesitt said he expects the greenhouse to be a learning experience and to evolve as the program moves forward.

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

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