Discover where your food comes from at a Family Food Fest hosted by local nonprofit New Roots CO
Local nonprofit is aiming to connect and engage residents with the producers and purveyors of food in Eagle County
Understanding where your food comes from and how it makes its way to your plate is critical to the mission of Eagle County nonprofit, New Roots CO. And on Saturday, Nov. 18, the organization is hosting an event to engage residents with local producers and purveyors — all while offering activities for the whole family.
New Roots was formed in 2017 by a group of volunteers who came together over the Avon Community Garden project at the Vail Valley Salvation Army. At the time, the group saw a need to connect people with — and help build — local food systems.
“There wasn’t really anyone doing any of the local food system work at the time. Food systems in general were not a very big topic here in Eagle County,” said Evan Ellis, the executive director of New Roots. “There still were a lot of underserved people, with the food banks — people who needed to be getting meals on a consistent basis — so we felt that that was important to really get people in connection with those resources that already exist.”
Overall, the goal of the organization is to support local, sustainable food systems throughout Eagle County through education, outreach and partnership, Ellis added.
To achieve this goal, the group does a few different kinds of work, each meant to connect individuals to all the various “spokes” of the food system, Ellis said.
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“If you think of the food system as a big wheel, then there’s all these different spokes: the processors, the producers, the aggregators, the distributors and so many more elements,” he added.
Some of the ways that the organization does this is through teaching people tools to garden at high elevations, field trips to food systems — including an annual harvesting and educational trip to the Orchard Mesa Colorado State University research station in Grand Junction — and volunteer opportunities at community gardens in the county. The food harvested from those gardens goes to The Community Market and local food distributors. New Roots also has a weekly show on Radio Free Minturn.
Most recently, the nonprofit has been overseeing the community garden at the Colorado Mountain College campus in Edwards.
“We’ve been contracted with them for the last three years now to manage their community garden space,” Ellis said. “We’ve been activating that space and using it to do a lot of demonstrations and teach classes to kids of all ages and adults, too. So it’s been a really cool last couple of years doing that.”
By improving local food systems and then connecting individuals to these systems, there are many benefits.
“We see the food system right now as kind of disparate; everything’s separate and their own node,” Ellis said. “A more efficient and more healthy system has all those nodes more connected as opposed to separated.”
Food produced and procured locally has to travel shorter distances, which not only reduces carbon emissions of transport but also means the food retains more nutritional value. Additionally, aside from environmental and health benefits, local food systems can help support the local economy and create a community.
What: New Roots CO’s Family Food Fest
When: Saturday, Nov. 18 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: Eagle River Center (971-1097 Fairgrounds Road, Eagle)
Tickets: $25 for adults, $15 for each child under 16 and free for kids under six
Tickets are available for purchase at NewRootsCO.org.
The organization’s Family Food Fest on Saturday falls right within its work and mission.
“We want people to actually be more engaged with producers and purveyors, and that’s exactly what this Food Fest is about. We want people to literally meet the producers who are out here,” Ellis said.
The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Nov. 18, at the Eagle River Center in Eagle. With the purchase of a ticket — which is $25 for adults, $15 for kids younger than 16 and free for kids 6 and younger — individuals can get access to the event.
In addition to having locally-sourced food donated by Gerard Family Beef and prepared by the Edwards-based Rustic Farm to Fork, the event will feature a food expo with producers selling locally-raised beef, turkey, produce and more.
“We’re providing a venue and market space for our local producers and purveyors. So it’s a free vending opportunity for them and an opportunity for people to talk with them, speak with them and get to meet their producers face-to-face,” Ellis said.
“We want people to talk to the producers and see you’re the ones making the cattle, you’re the ones making the chicken, and you’re the people who are actually processing this and bringing it to us to eat — so people actually know where their food is coming from.”
Additionally, true to the name, the event will have family-friendly activities from an obstacle course, yard games, food and drinks.
“We want kids to be exposed to these elements in the food system so that they’re having lifelong impressions; we want them to have that consideration for their whole life,” Ellis said.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit NewRootsCO.org.