School chef envisions a working farm on Strawberry Park campus near Steamboat Springs
January 9, 2014
Steamboat Springs — An effort underway to establish a working farm as a teaching platform at The Lowell Whiteman School got the attention Wednesday of those attending the monthly community meeting of the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.
Andy Ziegler, who is the chef and the "sustainability instigator" at Whiteman, told members of the YVSC board and partner organizations that he has been hosting fine dining events at the school to raise funds for a new greenhouse. And the greenhouse could lead to bigger things.
Officially, Ziegler is starting the new sustainable agriculture program at Whiteman in addition to his cooking duties. He wants to promote aquaculture and permaculture at the school in Strawberry Park. The intent is to grow some of the food the students eat on a daily basis while teaching a local food-based curriculum. His efforts won him the Sustainable Educator Award from YVSC.
"I just find it phenomenal that both he and the school have embraced the need for local food within their own system and are figuring out ways to make it happen," Community Agriculture Alliance Executive Director Marsha Daughenbaugh said.
Ziegler grew up on a small farm outside Madison, Wis., studied international relations in college and also prepared classical French food at one of that city's most notable restaurants, L'Etoile. In Steamboat, he helped launch the Laundry restaurant.
"We're trying to build a working farm at Whiteman," Ziegler told the YVSC board during its annual community meeting. “We've turned the dining room into a fine dining experience and have had success hosting dinners with help from Elkstone Farm and Yampa Valley Beef. It's a very fluid thing at this point, but we're going to build a passive solar greenhouse and the next thing is chickens. Then maybe some bigger animals, pigs and cows."
Daughenbaugh would be pleased if Ziegler and Whiteman continued to collaborate with a local beef producer, for example, to feed the student body.
"If they contract with a local cattle rancher to provide meat for them, they've also increased the economy of that rancher," she said.
The next fundraising dinner is Feb. 28, and Ziegler expects the 48 seats to sell out at $100 apiece.
Recognition was went to Angela Ashby, of RE/MAX Partners, a founding board member, who was presented the lifetime achievement award for her efforts to promote sustainable building practices through the Steamboat Springs Board of Realtors.
"When I stepped down (from the board) last year, it was really hard, but it's a cool thing that we're in such good hands now to perpetuate the organization and develop its true potential," Ashby said.
Steve Hoots, facilities manager for the city of Steamboat Springs, was recognized for being a sustainable government official. The award for the sustainable businesswoman of the year went to Lyn Halliday, of Environmental Solutions Unlimited.