The Town of Mountain Village’s Farm to Community Incentive Program surpassed expectations in its inaugural year by delivering over 4,500 pounds of locally grown food and produce to community participants. Developed by Michelle Haynes, planning and development services director as a “climate action plan implementation measure,” the Mountain Village Green Team Committee unanimously supported the program along with the Town Council.
38 income qualified Mountain Village residents took part in a 14-week local farm share food program with an outcome exceeding the program’s goal of providing nine weeks of low-cost, high nutrient foods all while lowering carbon emissions by delivering a regionally grown food. Furthermore, the program gave a unique opportunity for Mountain Village residents to interact with local farmers, encouraging the use of new foods and recipes, and minimizing the time and distance for food shopping.
“I am so grateful for this program,” said one program participant, Melissa Touhly. “I’m a single mom with two daughters, and they started taking fresh salads to school because they loved the produce and the story of where the food sourced.”
Heather Knox shared similar sentiments by adding, “my two girls, ages 12 & 14, and I ate many more vegetables and fruits than I would normally purchase. It was fun introducing new vegetables that I had not ever seen, and figuring out how to cook them, or following the recipes included with the weekly bounty. I also really enjoyed getting to know ‘Farmer Sam’, with the Fresh Food Hub.”
The Town has approved an expanded program for 2019 with participating farms Mountain Roots Produce based in Mancos, Colorado and the F.R.E.S.H Food Hub, a community-run food co-op based in Norwood, Colorado. F.R.E.S.H Food Hub purchases food from local farms and producers such as Indian Ridge Farm and Bakery, Buckhorn Gardens, Birdhouse Farm, Laid Back Ranch, South River Aquaponics, and many more small-scale producers on the western slope.
2019 program applications are available February 1 for Mountain Village residents living in deed-restricted housing or meet the annual household income qualifications.
Furthermore, the town hopes to reduce their carbon footprint further and support the regional economy by developing a residential Community-supported agriculture (CSA) pick-up and a Town-led employee CSA wellness program.
Planning and Development Services Director, Michelle Haynes explains, “The Town of Mountain Village offers a wellness program benefit to employees that can be used in place of the purchase of a ski pass. The town agreed that participation in a CSA meets the wellness criteria. We hope to place a request for proposal this winter to work with a local farm in exchange for providing CSA shares to employees through the town’s wellness program this next summer.”
Haynes goes on to say, “with the success of the Farm to community program and positive farm presence at the Market on the Plaza this past summer, we hope that we can reach a critical mass of CSA share participation so that shares can also be delivered to the Mountain Village for residents and take advantage of the delivery route for wholesale distribution to local restaurants.” “Supporting the local economy and taking advantage of our local food sources is important to a resilient and healthy community.”