Time to get growing in the Vail Valley
Eagle Valley Enterprise
The horticulture department at the Eagle County Colorado State University Extension Office is helping to grow something – a movement for locally produced food.
“There are more community gardens starting up, and more farmers are trying to do small gardens (to be distributed locally),” said Jenny Lorch, the CSU horticultural officer’s assistant.
Eagle Ranch has had a community garden since the development started in 2001. West Vail had one this year, and another community garden is in the works for Eagle-Vail (see info box). A handful of schools have greenhouse programs, as well.
Meanwhile, it is the middle of harvest time at the extension office garden, which is part of an experiment for growing late-season produce.
The office is a little house located at Broadway and Fifth Streets in Eagle, across from the county building. Flower beds are in the front, and the garden and experimental beds are in the back.
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“We are growing spinach, kale and lettuce – which grow well in cold weather – in three different beds,” Lorch said. “One bed is uncovered, another is covered, and the third has a heat sensor that opens and closes a much harder cover according to the outside temperature.”
Other offices across the Western Slope are conducting the same experiment and will compare results for late-season harvesting.
Lorch said that for small gardens, the heat-sensing system is cheaper than a greenhouse.
Produce from the extension office garden is donated to places such as culinary schools and even restaurants.
“It’s amazing how much you can grow in a small bed,” Lorch said.
The CSU Extension Office also is offering its master gardener program again in 2012.
Last year, the classes were held in Carbondale once a week from January to March. This year’s class location, dates and price are still being figured out.
The syllabus is rigorous, and tuition ranges from approximately $200 to $600, depending on the program. Additional basic information can be found on Eagle County’s website – http://www.eaglecounty.us – under the “CSU Extension” link. The specifics previously mentioned won’t be known until Nov. 1. Until then, the best bet is to call Extension agent Pat McCarty at 970-625-3969.
“We’re just trying to educate and inspire,” Lorch said.