Sprout hopes to create, connect gardens | SteamboatToday.com

Sprout hopes to create, connect gardens

Participants in the summer 2008 Garden Tour take in Kristina Johnson's garden on Fourth Street in Steamboat Springs. A local group is working to promote the production and sharing of vegetables in a co-op format.

If you go

What: Foodshed II - Practical Elements for Growing our Foodshed

When: Friday and Saturday

Where: Steamboat Springs Community Center, 1605 Lincoln Ave.

Call: Deep Roots of Northwest Colorado Local Food Trust at 819-8695 for more information

On the 'Net

Visit Steamboatpilot.com to download a complete schedule of events for Foodshed II. Learn more about Sprout at http://www.evodesign.biz.... Learn more about Deep Roots of Northwest Colorado Local Food Trust at http://www.deeprootsco.o...

Whether it’s in a greenhouse or an old horse bucket, Lisa Lee Benjamin wants to see a garden in your yard.

To that end, Benjamin, owner of local landscape designers Evo Design, has started a new business called Sprout to design, build and manage organic gardens in the Yampa Valley. Ultimately, Benjamin hopes to see enough small productive gardens in the region that they could be inventoried and connected as part of a local, sustainable food network.

“There’s still a big need because people don’t know how to grow their own gardens or don’t have time to,” Benjamin said.

Benjamin said she wants people to re-imagine their lawns as productive places. She said that because of its long, snowy winters and brief, dry summers, many people underestimate growing possibilities in the Yampa Valley.

“You can really get a lot more yield than people think,” said Benjamin, who named lettuce, potatoes, grains, wheat, strawberries, blackberries, apples and cherries as products that can be grown in the Yampa Valley. “Cherries do great. People never think that they could do cherries, but they also do fantastic here. : Most of our diet can be grown here.”

The Sprout Web site states that fruits and vegetables purchased from the supermarket travel 1,500 miles on average from farm to fridge, and that the cost of fresh produce has increased by 40 percent since the mid-1980s. Benjamin hopes her business can help reduce those impacts on the environment and shoppers’ checkbooks. She said the business partially was inspired by similar successful efforts in Boulder known as Community Roots Urban Gardens and Veggiescapes.

Antonio Marxuach, president of Deep Roots of Northwest Colorado Local Food Trust, said Benjamin’s business fits well with the organization’s mission to reinvent the local agricultural economy and get more local food on local tables.

“We aim to create a genuine sustainability for the residents in this part of the state,” Marxuach said. “Sprout’s ambition is to create the urban veggiescape or edible landscapes. The cumulative effect of small-scale gardens can create an actual foodshed. That’s an important part of the equation.”

Deep Roots will explore other parts of the equation Friday and Saturday at the 2009 Northwest Colorado Products Expo and Foodshed II – Practical Elements of Growing our Foodshed. The event kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Friday with a light supper consisting of local foods. Those planning to attend the dinner are asked to call 879-4370 to RSVP. At 7 p.m., there will be a presentation about the history of agriculture in the Yampa Valley and a keynote address by David Lynch, of Guidestone Farm in Buena Vista.

Saturday’s events include the product expo and sessions about growing the local foodshed; new technologies and growing methods; and influencing agriculture policy.

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail bgee@steamboatpilot.com

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