The Cloud City Farm, Greenhouse and Living Classroom is at 440 McWethy Dr. in Leadville, located within walking distance of 3rd – 12th grade classrooms in Lake County. We are planning 1,300 square feet of indoor growing space plus outdoor gardens.
HELP FUND THE FARM (Click Donate button on right side)
The Cloud City Farm will provide outstanding educational opportunities for our youth to become farmers, scientists and stewards of the Earth.
AND fresh produce shares offered at affordable prices to our community, including special programs to provide vegetables to low-income residents. It will be a CSA (community supported agriculture)-style venture. Residents will be able to purchase summer and winter produce shares. Sign up for the CSA.
Our goal? Raise $20,000 this year to complete the construction of an attached shed and gathering space, and build seasonal high tunnels for summer production
Who is supporting it? Over 100 Lake County residents have given money or volunteered on the project. In addition, the Leadville Trail 100 Legacy Foundation, Copper Environmental Foundation, the Freeport McMoRan Community Investment Fund, the Summit Foundation, Gates Family Foundation, and New Belgium Brewing have also given grants to support the project.
The Cloud City Farm will be an educational classroom for our students and a market CSA for our community.
The project steering committee is also a working group of the Lake County Food Access Coalition, a project of Lake County Build a Generation/LiveWell Leadville:
- Facilitator/Lead: Kendra Kurihara (Cloud City Conservation Center)
- Erin Allaman (Youth Culture Works)
- Shoshanah Beck (Build a Generation)
- Kerri Quinlan (Lake County School District)
- Barnabus Kane (Landscape Architect and C4 Board Member)
- Caroline Koehler (Full Circle Staff and C4 Environmental Education Instructor)
- Loretta McEllhiney (Leadville Ranger District)
The LiveWell Leadville Community Food Access Assessment (2014) found that healthy foods are not adequately available and affordable to local residents. Lake County is an unhealthy food “swamp” with not enough healthy food outlets. Leadville and Lake County have only one grocer, and the estimated total weekly cost of groceries is 18% more expensive than the national average and 12-14% higher than surrounding counties, even those counties with markedly higher per-capita incomes.
Compounding these findings, in 2015, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) produced its County Health Rankings and placed Lake County 50 of the 60 ranked counties in Colorado. One area of concern for the health and wellness of Lake County families was limited access to healthy foods and adequate physical activity, particularly for youth.
There are several negative byproducts of the lack of availability and affordability of fresh and organic vegetables. The first is that fewer fresh nutritious vegetables are eaten, more unhealthy foods are eaten that also include chemicals, pesticides and preservatives, and ultimately health suffers. The second is that food must travel farther, using more fossil fuels and be less nutritious and tasty when it arrives at our plate. The third is that our residents and youth are further disconnected from the the act of growing food, and stewarding the earth as a part of this process. We miss a first rate opportunity to take part in nature’s intricate web of ecology and grow our community’s self-sufficiency at the same time.
Our youth need to be prepared to grapple with complex environmental and social issues. A strong foundation in science combined with prolonged first-hand experience with environmental processes and impacts, will be invaluable to this preparation. Real changes in stewardship come about from strategies that are designed not just to increase knowledge, but to “give the learner a sense of involvement and ownership … (such as) hands-on learning activities, investigational approaches, out-of classroom experiences, and student directed learning” (National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, 2009).
Lake County School District administrators, teachers and staff have been excellent partners in the past several years in developing enrichment programs for youth that have a community sustainability focus. The compost program has proven how well teachers and students respond to on-site STEM learning opportunities. As a result of the compost initiative, Lake County School District teachers were the first to requested a greenhouse as a phase two of the project, so that students can be a part of the full cycle of nutrients, plant life, eating and decomposition.
Phase one of this project is to establish a greenhouse and farm, as well as on-site youth educational programs. This will be a proof of concept that shows what effective growing looks like at high altitude.
Phase two will use this farm and greenhouse as an educational hub for our community to learn how to grow and become stewards of soil in any backyard, mobile home park or garden-box space. Our ultimate goal is for every household to have the knowledge and ability to grow or purchase local, healthy fresh vegetables and for every student to have the ability to take part in growing. We intend this project to lay the foundation for self-sufficiency and long term sustainability for our community.