Local food hero: Kim Barnes

Photo courtesy Healthy Archuleta
Kim Barnes.

By Rose Chavez | Food System/Food Equity Coalition

Healthy Archuleta, a local nonprofit in Archuleta County also known as the FSFE — Food Coalition, continues to celebrate the local food heroes that make up the food system in Archuleta County and the surrounding southwest region. 

These individuals uniquely contribute to the community’s vision for a sustainable, health-promoting and equitable local food system so that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious foods. 

The effort to capture the profiles of these integral community members was initiated as part of the Archuleta Food System Summit that took place April 9. 

Today, we would like to feature Kim Barnes, of Archuleta County, who shared this narrative with us: 

“I grow just about every vegetable that my family eats, as well as culinary and medicinal herbs, an abundance of flowers and fruit trees. The garden occupies a quarter acre, which is fully fenced to keep the deer and elk out. I have 20 raised beds which are 4 by 12 feet, and we will be building a 20 by 40 greenhouse this year, with an additional nine beds. I dedicate a good deal of space to storage crops so that we can eat from the garden year round, but I still grow far more food than we can eat ourselves. During the growing season, I share with friends and vacation rental guests, and I donate quite a bit of produce to the food pantries.

“I’ve been growing food for almost 20 years. During college, I took a year off and traveled to South America, where I volunteered on organic farms. At that time, when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, the experience of growing food was a revelation. It was physical, practical, gratifying, and it felt revolutionary to me, having grown up in a way where I was wholly disconnected from the source of my nutrition. Food is fundamental to each and every human life and food production touches so many important issues — health environment, social equality, community resilience. When I returned to school, I jumped on board with a student-run garden project and after graduation, I did my first apprenticeship on an organic farm with a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, where people invest in a local farm and receive a share of the farm’s produce. I continued to work and learn on a variety of farms and started a couple different market gardens on my own over the years. Most recently, I coordinated a network of community gardens where folks worked together on mini farms to feed themselves and provide fresh produce to their local food pantries.

“I believe that everyone should have access to fresh, healthy food. And I believe that if everyone participated, even just a little bit, in growing the food they eat, our world would be a better place. So my biggest mission in this life is to help as many people as possible to find a way to get their hands in the soil. While I loved the CSA model, it still felt transactional, and I felt that it didn’t go far enough in reconnecting people to the source of their food. For the time being, I am not trying to make a living from growing food, so I am free to envision something different. I want to create a place where children grow up knowing how a carrot grows, and where an interdependent community can germinate alongside the onions.”

For more information, please contact us at fsfearchuleta@gmail.org or (401) 371-3227. To donate to support the work of Healthy Archuleta, please visit: https://www.foodcoalition4archuleta.org/donate.html.