Food, Agriculture & Nutrition
Children (4-12 years)
Colorado Farm to Table's program is the planting, harvesting and distribution of as much fresh produce as possible on our current 10 of 20 donated acres located in Salida, Colorado. Standard crops grown are sweet corn, cabbage, broccoli, zucchini squash, yellow squash, and acorn squash. We are on a year-round schedule, tending 10 acres of planted produce. We have 10 additional acres that are being prepared for future produce production, which entails building up the soil and improving the irrigation system. There are variables in farming that we can't control, but past experience indicates that our projected yield for 2016 of 150,000 pounds is a goal we can accomplish with good conditions. We were blessed with 302,793 pounds this past year - 202% of the 150,000 pound goal we had proposed, despite early season cool temperatures and disappointing fundraising results. With abundant winter and spring moisture this year, broccoli and cabbage are started in our greenhouse for transplant. In late spring, seeding for the other produce is done and summer is occupied with tending crops, irrigating and fertilizing. Crops are harvested and distributed in late July through early October each year. Vegetables are harvested by a corps of volunteers and Chaffee county work release inmates who contribute hundreds of hours planting, hoeing, and harvesting as well as many other activities supporting the farm. Transportation of this produce is coordinated by the part-time CFTT Volunteer/Client Coordinator and is generally the responsibility of our recipient client organizations. CFTT completed an 8/10th of a mile, 8 foot tall game fence project in spring 2014, a timely effort which has already proven its benefit by significantly reducing crop loss to 0% from local foraging animals.
Our goal is to provide wholesome, fresh produce to our recipient partners across the state to supplement their food banks, pantries and soup kitchens for their clients in need. We achieve this goal with these measurable objectives:
*Plant, nurture, harvest, and distribute 150,000 pounds or more of fresh produce through recipient client distribution partners;
*Maintain our established, sustainable model of volunteer support, strong organizational infrastructure, and dependable funding resources;
*Distribute an annual assessment for our client partners to complete in order to help CFTT analyze the past year's performance, determine the amount and mix of crops to be planted, and establish how many individuals and families our produce is feeding; and
*Work closely with the local farming and ranching community to offset impacts of drought conditions with supplemental water, additional farming locations, and other options.
CFTT partners with a wide variety of community businesses and organizations. These partnerships demonstrate our focus on improved health, diet and well-being for those in need as well as our collective approach to solving the hunger problem. This fosters self-sufficiency and personal responsibility among our volunteers and incarcerated work-release inmates, while sustaining a tight sense of community and re-establishing our valley's heritage of farming excellence, all for a higher purpose. Key partnerships related to this project include: area faith-based organizations and churches; local youth groups and schools; the Chaffee County Detention Facility which provides inmate trustees; Salida Farmer's Market; Crest Academy and Montessori School, which offers opportunities for education and community outreach; and the local farming community which provides specialized equipment and labor. Salida area service organizations such as Upper Arkansas Service Club, the Rotary Club, and the Garden Club also contribute funds and labor to our mission. Local Salida banks and businesses provide matching funds, materials and in-kind services for ongoing support.
Our greatest collaborative partners are the 37 food distribution agencies around Colorado that receive our fresh produce and then distribute it to their clients -- soup kitchens, pantries, and smaller food banks -- and, ultimately, to the families and individuals in Colorado who are food insecure and in need. The largest of these are Care and Share in Colorado Springs, the Food Bank of the Rockies in Denver, La Puente of the San Luis Valley, Sharing Ministries of Montrose, and Loaves & Fishes in Canon City.
Benefits to the target population of the food insecure in Colorado are direct and simple: with Colorado Farm to Table's donation of 339,076 pounds of fresh produce in 2016, grown exclusively for those in need, the economic impacts of providing fresh, wholesome produce in the home are offset; the nutritional value of every meal supplemented with CFTT produce is dramatically increased as all produce is picked and distributed to recipient clients the same day and produce is typically available at food banks, soup kitchens and panties within 72 hours or less of harvest, assuring maximum nutrient levels; and the dignity and self-esteem of those receiving the fresh CFTT vegetables is elevated as they are not receiving "seconds", bruised or food not suitable for sale.
The overall Colorado Farm To Table approach to evaluating our program effectiveness is determining how we meet the growing demands of our client food banks, food pantries and soup kitchens. In 2016, CFTT raised and distributed 339,076 pounds of broccoli, cabbage, corn and acorn squash. This food was distributed at no cost to 40 organizations which, in turn, re-distributed further into their communities to indigent families, the elderly, and the sick. Our goal for 2017 is 350,000 pounds of fresh produce and we anticipate reaching - and hopefully exceeding - this goal.
The total crop yields from 2005 through 2016 was 1,275,464 pieces of produce equaling 1,884,020 lbs. In 2014 total cost was $1.24 per pound for produce grown and distributed. Each year since the cost was reduced and in 2016 was only $.074 per pound. This is only possible due to our amazing volunteers and contributors!