Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: The summer for gardening
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Community Cultivation, a program of Yampa Valley Autism Program, is a work-ready program using a platform of gardening and marketing as the teaching tool to give clients skills to be successful employees. During a pandemic, it feels especially empowering to see food growing, know where it comes from, how to grow it and watch others share the magic and joy of learning these skills.
Programming looks a little different this year, with wearing masks and staying farther apart than usual. The good news is that we can do that while still digging in the dirt and watching caterpillars munch our kale.
Do you have a student at home who misses their school and friends that they see there? How about planting companion patio gardens for them to check in on via video chats? Our students were stoked to be able to take some plants home to watch and care for on their own. Container gardening and small-scale gardens are a great way to have food growing on your patio or deck, in addition to flowers.
Our students all planted take-home garden kits using 2-foot square fabric bags purchased online, great soil from the Paonia Soil Co. and seedlings purchased from a greenhouse on the Front Range. This is a great idea for you or the children in your life to try if you haven’t already done so.
It’s not too late — check out the Community Agriculture Alliance Market at caamarket.org. There are several varieties of locally grown tomato seedlings and other vegetable starts both for sale. Planting veggies in containers is a great way to ensure they get the sun exposure, heat and water that they need, because you can watch them more carefully and respond quickly when they’re just outside (or maybe inside) your door.
Some hardy annual varieties of veggies to try at this point in the season are mustard greens, kale, chard, cabbage, arugula, peas, parsley, cilantro and beans. Chard and beans are frost sensitive, so if you’re planting those now, be sure to check on the nighttime low temperatures. Everything I just mentioned can be grown in a pot and even taken indoors this fall if it’s still doing well and producing. Reach out to your local producers and see if they have a few extra seeds you can buy from them.
Happy growing and summertime from your friends at Community Cultivation. Check out our booth at the Saturday Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market on July 11 or at the CAA Market, open for walk-in shopping Wednesday through Friday inside 743 Oak St. and year-round at caamarket.org
Allison Mecklenburg is with Community Cultivation and the Yampa Valley Autism Program.
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