Apple Days Festival

The Growing Partners of Southwest Colorado present the 4th Annual Home Grown Apple Days Festival, in Durango’s Buckley Park – Sunday, October 16th from 11:00am to 4:00pm. This family event celebrates the abundant local apple harvest and provides opportunities for residents, and tourists alike, to learn about and practice local food security and sustainability. Over the past three years, the Apple Days Festival has become a highlight of the fall season, and is a fantastic event for all ages and members of the family.

For more information, contact Erin Jolley at



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Growth in abundance

The Dance Ranch greenhouse and garden beds are rockin in this long awaited spring warmth!

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Thinkin Pollinators

I just came across a great resource- Pollinator Partnership, who’s mission is to “protect pollinators, critical to food and ecosystems, through conservation, education, and research.” Check it out and put in your/our zip code to learn more about how we in  SW Colorado can attract and support more pollinators.

We fall into the Colorado Plateau and Semi Desert Province and they provide a great Ecoregional Planting Guide pdf resource to learn how to invite pollinators to your neighborhood by planting a pollinator friendly habitat in your garden, farm, school, park or just about anywhere!

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Transplanting starts

Managing a sprouting space. This last bout of spring weather has really heated the greenhouse up and the seedlings are loving it. They are taking off so much that it is becoming a juggling act of sorts to manage starters that are getting a little leggy.

We’ve now moved our cucumber starts to bigger 2 gallon pots, the tomatoes to bigger quart size pots and the basil babies in a greenhouse bed after adding a couple loads of homegrown compost and feeding the soil some compost tea. The greens (arugula, watercress, mixed and others) continue to grow and we just keep filling in non-sprouting areas with more broadcasted seeds.

We just had a few first cuttings and the greens will now be included in Cyprus Cafe’s menu starting today until they’re gone! So, go try some of our spicy arugula and other tasty greens.

Up next, is figuring out the broccoli starts, as you can see to the left… their getting a little big for their britches. We’ve prepped the outside beds by adding a layer of compost on top of a seasoned layer of horse manure from last year and then double-dug them. We also fed them a little yummy compost tea too. So, now we’re thinking of planting our little broccoli starts and covering them with a small hoop-house structure or just row cover. Any suggestions on starting to plant cool crop starts outside in SW Colorado? Will row cover keep them warm enough when a freak storm blows through in April? Share your knowledge por favor…

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Fertilizing solutions

Local farming gets a little hard when it comes to fertilizing The Durango Herald printed a story yesterday on hay production in La Plata County- Chasing Nature. I found it interesting to hear how a local farmers woes really relates to the rising cost of fertilizer.

As taken from Chasing Nature- “It’s early spring, and the first cutting of hay on John Baughman’s ranch east of Durango is still months away. But work to prepare for that period of intense activity is already under way. Farming is no slam-dunk, Baughman said. He contends with fickle weather, water shortages, fluctuating petroleum prices and pests such as grasshoppers. He perseveres because farming is his life, Baughman said. This year, he is starting the hay season with a special concern – fertilizer. Rising costs… Once the cow manure is evenly spread, Baughman usually applies commercial fertilizer. “Hay production is directly proportional to the amount of fertilizer,” he said. But this year, he is leaning toward omitting the commercial fertilizer because of cost. “It’s all tied to the spike in the price of petroleum,” Baughman said. “A few years ago, I paid $300 a ton for fertilizer. This year, it could jump to $700 a ton.”

From Tiny Farm Blog

So I wonder, what other options are out there for large-scale fertilizing? At the Dance Ranch right now, we are applying Compost Tea, which is a concentrate mixture of dense compost mixed with a little humus that sits and brews over night. We are applying this tea to our garden beds and sprouting seedlings. I wonder if this type of application could be done on a larger scale… yet, not sure about the logistics and mechanics that would have to be in place to support this process?

Wondering how to make compost tea? The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has a great recipe here as well as our local non-profit Turtle Lake Refuge who uses compost tea for local lawn care.

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the Sprouts Outside

The garlic is shooting up outside. It seems to be doing fine on its own, yet we wonder if they occasionally need our help feeding them a little water now and again. I guess it doesn’t hurt, but maybe not so necessary? Any suggestions for baby garlic?

As for the greenhouse, the seedlings are sprouting like crazy. They’re going fast and we hope they won’t be getting too leggy before we can get them out into the ground. Starting seeds seems like quite an art- balancing the growth period with spastic spring weather. Here, in SW Colorado, our spring is pretty sporadic and hard to predict. Most people say, however, that the end of May is a safe bet for planting sensitive starts. Have you heard different for this area? When do you typically plant your starts outside? Is it the best to use row-cover or a small hoop house at this time too?

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Food Policy Council starting up

Another great project growing in SW Colorado!

If you are interested in or passionate about local healthy food, then you should attend the upcoming Food Policy Council meeting happening March 24th from 9-10:30 at Cocina Linda’s in Durango.

So, what exactly is food policy- what does it do? By establishing a food policy council in your community, you create the leverage that needs to happen in order to ensure access to this vital resource, demand accountability and improve the local economy- due to shifting economic support from out-of-town big-business industry to your local farmer’s and market worker’s pockets. Establishing a food policy council also encourages the spread of awareness and consumer education and inspires the same to happen in other communities. You would be part of the growing movement sweeping across the US.

Starting a Food Policy Council (FPC) all depends on what your community needs and what type of capacity is present to support your council. A FPC can be anything from a very structured politically-active council to a loose coalition that meets a few times in a year. It is important to see the fundamental underpinning of Food Democracy- that we all have the ability to make decisions and vote with our money for what we want to see happen in our local food system.

If interested in getting involved, contact Katy Pepinsky at

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