A Wonderland of Vegetables

Quick!  Where were the vegetables you ate today grown?  (We trust you at your vegetables).  Inside?  Outside?  Nearby?  Far away?

This pullet is willing to wager that you don't know.

Don't feel bad.  Most people can't answer those questions.  It's the way the world works these days.

Going Local does not mean Going Without

It used to be easier.  Food used to come from one place, dirt in a nearby field.  You grew it yourself or you bought it from a farmer nearby.  Today, we can go to the grocery store, a place I refer to as the “Wonderland of Vegetables”, and buy anything, in or out of season.  Sometimes, thanks to our 24 hour society, we can even buy these magical things in the middle of the night!

But where did it grow?  It may have grown in what we imagine when we think of farming, in a field.  Or it may have sprouted from the various kinds of technology used to overcome problems of climate, space, water and light.

Our modern, space-age technology has provided a variety of ways to overcome these problems and Colorado entrepreneurs are making them into an economic reality!

For example, lettuce, kale and herbs grow in a warehouse on the east side of Colorado Springs at Daily Harvest Aquaponics.

Aquaponics farms grow fish and vegetables.  The fish create nutrients for the plants and the plants clean the water for the fish.  The water is recycled and uses a tenth of the water used by traditional farming. 

Tilapia live in these big, clean blue tanks in the Daily Harvest warehouse.

Hydroponics = Aquaponics - fish - soil

Hydroponics farms circulate nutrient fortified water in a similar way, just without the fish.  The plants also grow without soil. 

Minibelly's Farm, in Black Forest, CO grows hydroponic tomatoes in greenhouses. Greenhouses, unlike warehouses, offer natural light.  They may still need grow lights, however, to grow in the winter.

Extending Colorado Growing Seasons

Even without grow lights, a greenhouse extends the growing season with warmth.  Businesses like Mountain Goat Lodge, schools, farms and even homesteads use greenhouses to start their plants early and grow greens well into the winter.

Mountain Goat Lodge in Salida, CO serves guests breakfast with vegetables grown in raised beds inside a greenhouse.

Next time you're in the Wonderland of Vegetables, he would like you to think of our Colorado growers.  Don't be surprised if you find local Colorado grown tomatoes in January or local lettuce all year round.  Buying local doesn't have to mean going without.  It means supporting our local economy and our neighbors by learning when Colorado products are available and choosing them when you can. 

But we know that you're already doing that.  That's why you're here on Created-in-Colorado.com.  Thanks for supporting your local farms & businesses!

Bonnie and Patience, Hungry Chicken Homestead

Bonnie Simon of the Hungry Chicken Homestead is based out of Colorado Springs where she writes about local farms and business in Colorado Springs and the surrounding area.  Finding inspiration from the farms and communites around her, Bonnie educates us about local businesses through her blog, hungrychickenhomestead.com with humor and laughter.  Follow her on Facebook and subscribe to her newsletter to get updates!