Ask Eartha: What’s inside the large Frisco greenhouses? | SummitDaily.com

Ask Eartha: What’s inside the large Frisco greenhouses?

Eartha Steward
Ask Eartha

Get to know your farmer: Kyla LaPlante grows food for High Country Conservation Center’s Summit CSA program.

Dear Eartha,

I've seen the large greenhouses in Frisco by Whole Foods. Can you tell me more about what goes on there and how I can get involved?

Lacy, Frisco

Dear Lacy,

CSAs are partnerships between farmers and communities. The farmer grows a certain number of produce shares each season and residents buy those shares before planting even starts, guaranteeing much-needed income for the farmer.

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It's hard to imagine talking about growing food when there's still so much snow on the ground, but as the days are getting longer now is the perfect time to start planning for summer.

In 2015, the High Country Conservation Center finished construction on three large greenhouses in partnership with Summit County government and the town of Frisco in order to expand local food programs. Specifically, the greenhouses are part of the Summit CSA, a community farm-share program established in 2012.

The community supported agriculture movement has been around for over 25 years, but only recently has it gotten a lot of mainstream buzz. The reason being, many Americans are fed up with the industrial food system and want to reconnect with local farmers and local food. This means engaging with local farms and farmers, growing your own food, buying local produce in grocery stores and frequenting farmers markets. And despite the long winters here in Summit, there is a strong local food movement in our community.

What is a CSA exactly? CSAs are partnerships between farmers and communities. The farmer grows a certain number of produce shares each season and residents buy those shares before planting even starts, guaranteeing much-needed income for the farmer. The Summit CSA can grow 75 produce shares for roughly 16 weeks, directly serving approximately 275 people. Our CSA also connects residents with farmers, even going so far as to provide educational tours of facilities.

For hardcore gardeners or folks interested in flexing a newfound green thumb, you can join a community garden and learn to grow your own food. This year, the Dillon Valley Elementary School garden will be operational again, bringing the total number of community gardens available to the public back up to five.

Living at 9,000 feet doesn't give us a leg up when it comes to growing food, and some people even think it can't be done. Rest assured, growing local food can be accomplished with a little patience and some tender loving care. Crops that grow well in our climate include peas, beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, herbs, lettuce, broccoli, cabbage, arugula and Swiss chard. You can experiment with any organic food crop that you want, but don't be surprised when your corn doesn't mature.

In addition to becoming a member of the CSA or tending your own garden, there are other ways to get involved in the local food movement. You can buy Colorado products at all major grocery stores in the county — check out the Dillon City Market's new selection for a fresh example.

Summit also hosts several summer farmers markets — Silverthorne, Dillon and Breckenridge — and while many booths focus on arts and crafts, food and other locally made products can be found as well.

To get involved in your local CSA farm, visit HighCountryConservation.org or call 970-668-5703. Keep an eye out in April when applications for community gardens are released and join the local food movement.

Ask Eartha Steward is written by the staff at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustainable food, waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit questions to Eartha at eartha@highcountryconservation.org.