Good Food Collective is a growing organization that aims to restore a healthy regional food system.
Rachel Landis, Director of the GFC, stated that food is a way to promote culture, health, well-being, and social justice. She said that this organization supports everything, from culture to health, well-being, and kind of bringing a social aspect into it. The way food flows in the region was not reflected by the existence of hyper-local groups like Bayfield, Cortez, and Durango.
She said that fruit gleaning was the first tangible project the group tackled. It was meant to reduce the 23 million pounds of fruit that falls each year from trees in La Plata, Montezuma and Montezuma Counties. Although programs were already in place at the local level, adding a point person to help with matchmaking made them scalable to the whole region.
The Good Food Collective has evolved over time into three main focus initiatives: Regional coordination, support, agricultural support, and food security.
Support and Regional Convening Good Food Collective
- Landis stated, “We need to work together as a region. We have to talk to one another and do all the grassroots work to build trust.”
- She said that this breaks down territorialism and barriers that cause people to think only in their own microcosms.
Support for Agriculture
Landis stated that Southwest Colorado’s food waste is due to two factors: a lack of an end market and a shortage of labor. This goes beyond fruit.
The Good Food Collective offers a market development program that analyzes whether there are B-grade or secondary products that farmers can grow in areas without end markets. She said that this is more true for younger growers than for established growers who know how to produce exactly what they sell. GFC often sends food that looks funny to schools programs.
The Good Food Collective has partnered with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and other Front Range groups to explore the possibility of a mobile farm workforce.
A region that has a skilled labor force available on demand would be greatly helped by it.
Landis stated, “It allows you to be the farmer and not deal all the HR. Also, you don’t have the burden of a workforce.”
GFC’s gleaning program continues to be successful – it has collected 112,000 pounds of fruits and vegetables since last year. These were then distributed back into the community. The program was expanded to Montezuma County this year and began working in the Pine River Valley.