Healthy Archuleta, a local non-profit organization in Archuleta County, also known as FSFE – Food Coalition, continues to honor the local food heroes that make up the food system of Archuleta County and the surrounding Southwest region. These people make a unique contribution to the community vision of a sustainable, health-promoting and equitable local food system so that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious foods. An effort to collect profiles of these integral members of the community was undertaken as part of the Archuleta Food Systems Summit held on April 9, 2022. Today we would like to introduce Kristen Roth from Archuleta County who shared this story with us:
“I have been a gardener all my life. I grew up in the Bay Area where gardening was easy – the climate, soil, access to good seeds and plants made gardening easy! My dad was an amazing gardener and my mom was a great cook, adding all the fresh produce and fruits we grew to our daily meals. While as a child I never really enjoyed the “job” of watering, I have fond memories of peace and quiet (so desperately needed after a busy day at school), sunshine, the smells and sounds of the garden, and delicious family-cooked meals. from the foods we have grown have inspired me to grow my own gardens throughout my life.
“Since I moved to Pagosa Springs 24 years ago, I have had both successes and challenges in my gardening. The climate, being arid, dry and windy, can make watering difficult and avoid scorching. I solved some of these problems by using hoops and a protective cover for my shade-tolerant plants like kale, lettuce, cabbage, chard, beets, carrots, broccoli. The cover also helps protect my garden from insects, deer and adverse weather conditions (heat-waves, hail, strong winds). I also use raised beds, as they help ease the physical strain of gardening, and also help maintain an above ground dwelling by tunneling animals in so they don’t nibble on roots and vegetation.
I always start the bottom of the bed with a tightly woven metal slat rolled up on the sides of the raised bed. I also found it necessary to start with good soil and compost it every year. I throw away all my vegan kitchen waste (never animal/dairy products) in 3 compost bins (made from wire mesh bent into a tube) in the yard next to the greenhouse dome. The bear intrudes from time to time, but such is life in the forest!
I have a hand built (thank you husband!) bee habitat (for mason and leaf cutter bees) to help with pollination. And I will always be happy with wasps in my dome, as they are also helpers. Finally, I never use anything toxic in my garden – if I’m fighting aphids and mold, I take that as a signal that I may be trying to grow environmentally unsuitable foods. I found that growing peppers and eggplants in a dome was not suitable for my area. But herbs and chard are always a big hit!
This year I plan to try out a new system based on the book, All new gardening in square feet: grow more in less space. Author Mel Bartholomew is an international master gardener with over 25 years of experience. The book is based on his vast working knowledge of soil (he has a special mix that needs to be very drought tolerant), garden layout and seed spacing. The way he invites you to organize your garden layout and planting promises to make the whole experience so much easier. I’m adding 3 new ‘Square Foot’ (4’X8′) garden beds and hope I don’t overdo it! (Anyone want to partner up and share the harvest? Seriously!)
“Finally, I harvest for my family and take the donated crop to the FS/FE food distribution center, which distributes my produce and other ‘backyard grown’ produce to local food warehouses, who then distribute the food to those with restricted access. and stands for fresh, local produce. The whole idea behind the Archuleta Food System/Food Equity Program or FS/FE (part of the larger organization Healthy Archuleta, Inc.) is to help create an equitable distribution of a healthy, local, sustainable food system in Pagosa Springs.
“If you are interested in joining the Backyard Gardening Group (whether you are an avid gardener, aspiring gardener, or an amateur gardener), please contact me at [email protected] No harvest donation is too little!”
For questions about Healthy Archuleta, please contact us at [email protected] or call 401-371-3227.
Rose Chavez is a Public Health Consultant at the Archuleta Food System/Food Equity Coalition.