Food System Summit to highlight local food heroes

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By Rose Chavez | Food System/Food Equity Coalition

Please join us for the upcoming Archuleta County Food System Summit on Saturday, April 9, at the CSU Extension building from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For more about the event, please visit: https://www.foodcoalition4archuleta.org/archuleta-food-summit.html.

During this exciting event, we will feature local chefs, advocates, and local growers and producers who are key stakeholders in the local food system. Come join us on April 9 and meet some of these amazing people from Archuleta County and the surrounding region. 

Local food heroes: Kelle and Keith Bruno

Today, we would like to feature the story of Southern Roots Farm’s Kelle and Keith Bruno in their own words:

“We grow on 1/8 acre, which is equal to (12) 100-foot rows. We have a 50×15-foot hoop house where we grow our heat-loving crops: tomatoes (slicers, canners for sauce and cherries), jalapenos, summer squash and lots of basil. We also have a pole barn that is half greenhouse, half chicken coop/storage. We can grow greens and lettuce April through November in the greenhouse without any heat inputs. We also have built cold frame lids which fit over our growing beds in the greenhouse, where we propagate our seedlings (with only passive solar heat). The greenhouse is great for greens in the spring and fall and tomatoes, basil and peppers in the heat of the summer. In the field rows, we grow potatoes, onions, garlic, lettuce, spinach, radishes, sugar snap peas, carrots, beets, asparagus, winter squash and annual flowers for the pollinators. We also have a few dwarf apple trees and 13 laying hens.

“Kelle studied sustainable development and agroecology in college and her first job was managing the field operations at the Seeds of Change Research Farm in New Mexico, where she worked for five years. During this time, she and Keith met and he proceeded to catch the farming bug. We eventually began our own veggie production farm in Bayfield (Southern Roots Farm) and sold organic vegetables to the Durango Farmers Market, ran a 20-member CSA and sold wholesale to restaurants in Durango for three years. Keith also ran a wholesale potato and onion operation with a friend for two seasons and Kelle worked as a landscaper in Durango for multiple seasons.

“After trying hard to turn a farm into a sustainable business venture, both Keith and Kelle decided to go back to school to find more lucrative career opportunities. Kelle became an elementary school teacher and Keith received his master’s in natural resources and environmental education. We eventually settled in Pagosa Springs and bought our property in 2017. Our goal was to grow food for our family and link our garden to educational opportunities at Pagosa Peak Open School, where Kelle teaches first/second grade. We enjoy the work it takes to supplement our food supply with organic vegetables and our passion is sharing our knowledge with others, especially our 6-year-old daughter.

“Our biggest challenge is finding the time to work in the garden. We both have full-time jobs and are raising a young daughter. We enjoy getting outside and camping in the summer, so we have to balance our work time on the farm with our adventures on the weekends. Our farm is located in Meadows, so we are on city water, which can be pricey. We began our farm operation in the summer of 2018 and have sold veggies through a CSA, at the Pagosa Farmer’s Market, to Pagosa Peak Open School (PPOS) for their food program and wholesale to the local food pantry network. Our ultimate hope is to get more people involved to share the workload and the produce. This summer, Kelle will be running two two-week long gardening sessions for the students of PPOS with the hope that the vegetables will supplement more of their food program (PPOS will be building a certified kitchen in the school building this summer).”

For additional information, please contact us at fsfearchuleta@gmail.com or call (401)371-3227. To donate to support the work of Healthy Archuleta, doing business as the FSFE-Food Coalition, please visit our website: https://www.foodcoalition4archuleta.org/donate.html.