Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: Tower gardening expands in Steamboat |

Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: Tower gardening expands in Steamboat

Andy Kennedy
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Food is expensive. Farm fresh, organic, vine ripe food is even more expensive. At high elevation, having that food come from a local source is downright impossible. But not for Young Tracks Preschool. Starting this November, they’re growing their own. 

In 2018, Young Tracks experimented with the Tower Garden by Juice Plus by hosting a traveling show tower that spends 10 to 12 weeks at each stop, growing fresh food for its host. Young Track’s grant writer and fundraiser Hillary Ackerman spotted the show tower on location and offered to sponsor it. 

The Tower Garden is a natural addition to schools — both as an excellent learning tool for children, as well as a speedy food growing machine. The Young Tracks students were immediately connected to the tower; helping to plant the seeds, keep an eye on its quick growth, and harvest the plants in time for their Harvest Soup Dinner last fall.  

Ackerman’s appreciation for the tower in this short time lead to her finding funds for a tower of their own, which they have been growing on since the summer. But she soon realized they were going to need more towers if they were going to truly supply their kitchen with food. 

This fall, Ackerman applied to the community grant cycle at the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and was fully funded through the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.’s Environmental Fund held at the foundation. Young Tracks received the funds to purchase three more Tower Gardens and gardening curriculum for their students and will now be growing on four towers — which equals 104 net pots for growing food.

Ackerman states, “I must give credit to the Show Tower Program. Without it, we wouldn’t have known just how easy it is to grow on the Tower, and it wouldn’t have led to this.” 

The impact this grant will have on this school is monumental. While many Steamboat Springs schools have single tower units, this is the first early childhood development location in Steamboat that is growing their own fresh food for their kitchen. Ackerman’s plan is to share excess food with the preschool families and to teach the children about growing with hands-on gardens. 

If you would like to host the show tower in 2020, reach out to Andy Kennedy at 970-846-9256.

Andy Kennedy is a Tower Garden enthusiast and Colorado State University Master Gardener.

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