Redesigning Agriculture – How Urban Farming, CSA's and Beekeeping Can Save Your Carrots and Feed the Community
With developing technology, small scale farming is being integrated into urban living. Urban agriculture enables people to eat “local”, helps build community interaction and nourishes local economies. Metro area residents can access local food in a number of ways such as: farmers markets, farm stands, CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture) greenhouses and vertical grow houses. Keith Parks, President of Mile High Farmers, will moderate a lively discussion with a panel of urban farmers to talk about how they are feeding Denver, and why they are growing as available farm land disappears. After an hour with this group, you might find yourself inspired to grab your hoe and sow a seed or two.
Keith Parks: Moderator, Sun Prairie 100% Grass Fed Beef
Keith Parks is co-owner of Sun Prairie 100% Grass Fed Beef with his father Tom (a large animal veterinarian). With 25 years of ranching experience behind them, they started Sun Prairie in 2005 in order to sell high-quality, 100% grass fed beef direct to customers. By doing this, Sun Prairie is able to demonstrate that an animal welfare focused operation is a viable alternative to feedlot beef. Realizing that Sun Prairie needed to be an agent for change, they have become an advocate for this grass-based economy. Sun Prairie satisfies Keith’s interests in environmental stewardship and local food production by providing a healthy, sustainable alternative to conventional beef. He manages Sun Prairie’s marketing and sales and can be found fixing fence on the weekends at the ranch. He is also the President of Mile High Farmers, an organization promoting collaboration among Metro Area farmers and their communities.
Roberto Meza: Founder and Farmer, Emerald Gardens Microgreens
While a grad student at MIT’s Art, Culture, and Technology program, Roberto was inspired by student projects addressing food production in urban landscapes and his career transitioned from the arts to agriculture with a focus on food access. Roberto and his childhood friend, Dave Demerling, moved to Colorado and started Emerald Gardens Microgreens in 2017. Their mission is to cultivate and transform communities by providing access to fresh food. Roberto and Dave grow, harvest, and distribute microgreens to restaurants, independent grocery stores, food pantries, and smaller retailers in the Denver/Boulder area. They currently occupy 35 acres in Bennett, Colorado and operate sustainably using passive-solar energy.
Roberto is a co-founder Rocky Mountain Local Food and sits on the advisory boards of High Plains Food Coop, Double Up Food Bucks Program and is the chair of Membership and Outreach Committee for Mile High Farmers, a co-chapter of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and National Young Farmers Coalition.
Jamie Wickler: Owner, Wild Wicks Farm & Co-Founder Lakewood Growers Collective
Jamie has been growing for 7 years at her farmstead in Lakewood. She recently retired from Denver Botanic Gardens where she farmed for their 250-member CSA and created a program for training military veterans to learn to farm. Her newest venture started in 2018. The Lakewood Growers Collective is a collaboration of female farmers working together to create a sustainable food system in the Greater Denver Area. The Collective was formed to reduce barriers and increase confidence by providing small-scale female farmers the opportunity to grow, aggregate, and distribute locally grown produce within minutes of their operations. The Collective sells at the S. Pearl St. Farmers Market and Jamie has a front-yard farm every Wednesday.
Meg Caley: Co-Founder and Executive Director of Sprout City Farms
With loads of farming experience behind her, Meg started Sprout City Farms, an urban agriculture nonprofit, in 2010. Their mission is to build educational urban farms to engage and strengthen communities and to root farmers in the city. They envision a thriving local food system within the Denver metro area supported by a network of accessible city farms that nourish, and are nourished by, their surrounding communities. Since 2010, SCF has built 3 community farms in partnership with Denver Green School, Mountair Park, and Dahlia Campus (the latter now managed by Mental Health Center of Denver). As “founder and farmer-in-chief,” Meg managed the Denver Green School Community Farm for its first 7 years, and now oversees operations, programs, staff, and finances for all of SCF’s farm sites.
She also sits on the advisory board of CSU’s Building Farmers Program, Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council, Jefferson County Food Policy Council, the Council to End Hunger in Lakewood, and is on the leadership board of the Mile-High Farmers, a co-chapter of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and National Young Farmers Coalition.
Beth Conrey: Owner, Bee Squared Apiaries
Beth Conrey has a Master of Business Administration from the University of New Mexico. She owns Bee Squared Apiaries—a 100 hive beekeeping operation in Berthoud. She produces award winning varietal and infused honey as well as beautiful hand-rolled beeswax candles and luscious soaps. She has been keeping bees for 20 years and is past-president of the Western Apicultural Society and the Colorado State Beekeepers Association. She currently serves as treasurer for the Pollinator Stewardship Council and is a founding member of People and Pollinators Action Network. She is very active in the Northern CO beekeeping community.
Ample street parking surrounding the building, or park in the attached garage off 26th Street for $4/hour. Once inside the front doors, head to the second floor by stairs or elevator.