Challenges in meeting the goals set for the Dillon Valley Elementary Greenhouse by LiveWell Colorado, the wellness organization that funded it, are causing the early discontinuation of the organization's Summit County branch.
LiveWell, a nonprofit committed to reducing obesity in Colorado by promoting healthy eating and active living throughout the state, has been active in Summit since 2007. Funding for LiveWell Summit County was due to end this year anyway, as the organization sets up communities for wellness success, and doesn't stick around for more than seven or nine years, according to LiveWell Summit County coordinator Joanna Rybak. (Originally, the Summit branch knew they'd only be funded for seven years, she said). But, a possible extension into 2013 to help bolster the DVE greenhouse was not granted because the expectations between the nonprofit and the school district didn't line up: LiveWell wanted to use it to help supplement children's cafeteria meals, and provide the Dillon Valley community with access to fresh produce year-round.
Instead, the growing facility will be used as a science learning lab, said Mark Rydberg, school district director of business services.
"We had our eyes on the educational component, and LiveWell Colorado had their eyes on a significant amount of produce," Rydberg said.
The recently dissolved Summit Prevention Alliance used to manage the LiveWell grant; the school district had a land-lease agreement with SPA, and when they went away, "the greenhouse, by default, became the property of the school district," he said.
The district and LiveWell tried to iron out the use of the greenhouse starting in June, but there wasn't enough time to meet the nonprofit's deadline, Rydberg said. That also wasn't enough time to figure out things like food safety liability concerns in getting produce onto children's plates, he said.
And while the district's intentions are wonderful, they just didn't meet LiveWell's goals, which its grants are dependent on, Rybak said.
LiveWell has done what it accomplished in the community: getting residents started on the right track to wellness, Rybak said.
The whole idea is for LiveWell communities to be a collaborative partners, and then sustain projects afterwards, she said. During its tenure in Summit, the nonprofit funded four garden projects - The Living Classroom, High Country Conservation Center, Nancy's Community Garden and Silvana's Community Garden - work-time wellness programs, produced Summit County "walkability" reports, put in many of the bike racks at the bus stops (and helped with the bike lanes in Breckenridge), and, helped form the Food Policy Council, Rybak said.
"I think we're in a good place leaving the community where we are," Rybak said.