By Sandra G. Malhotra
The theme for this issue is Real Food (for one and all!), and so
I thought it would be peachy to highlight a local non-profit that is
addressing access to wholesome food and food insecurity in our area.
There are many who are doing wonderful work, such as FoCo Café,
The Larimer County Food Bank, The Kitchen Community, and
The Fort Collins Food Co-Op. I hope to profile them all over time.
For this issue, I chose The Growing Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit which promotes the value of a strong, diverse and fair local food system to all residents of Northern Colorado. They address food insecurity in Larimer County by co-creating community gardens that increase the supply of fresh, local produce, as well as educational programs that provide knowledge and skills. They also engage in advocacy efforts that promote community access to food grown locally.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Executive Director Dana Guber about The Growing Project and learned more about their activities. For example, it has been estimated that 14.5% of people in Larimer County experience food insecurity. According to the US Census Bureau, the population of Larimer County in 2015 was 333,577, so 14.5% of that is over 48,000. Really, any number over zero is too much.
The Growing Project addresses this using a multi-pronged approach: (1) They grow and distribute food on their 1 acre parcel, (2) they work with about 10 local farms to pick up and distribute food they donate and (3) they co-create food producing gardens with the communities that need them, such as the Poudre Valley Mobile Home Park and Sister Mary Alice Murphy Center for Hope. For the community gardens, they work with the residents to grow the foods they prefer and will use. Smart.
If you are passionate about this issue, I encourage you to learn more at http://www.thegrowingproject.org/and get involved. They are looking for members, volunteers, and interns. In particular, they are seeking passionate individuals to join their Board of Directors. If you are a great networker and fundraiser with experience running a for-profit or non-profit business, then this is an opportunity to help a worthy organization grow to the next level.
The Growing Project aspires to grow food on land they own instead of rent, and would like to build a community center that contains a kitchen and classroom for their workshops and classes. As a Board member, you could play a pivotal role in making this happen.
If you want to support The Growing Project in other ways, you can attend their fundraiser in May at O’Dell Brewery, where there will be food, beer, music and a silent auction or you can donate on Colorado Gives Day. You can also attend a Farm Dinner or Food Truck Rally. Stay apprised of all the fun by liking their Facebook page and signing up for their newsletter at http://www.thegrowingproject.org/