TELLURIDE – With a growing season of fewer than 90 days, the high alpine community of Telluride may not seem like the ideal locale for successful food production.
That’s also why it’s the perfect place in which to demonstrate that food production is possible at nearly 9,000 feet.
EcoAction Partners is collaborating with Telluride Grown to help create two aquaponic demonstration units for this year's Mountainfilm festival. This year’s theme for the festival’s Moving Mountains symposium is Climate Solutions. According to EcoAction Partners’ Executive Director Kris Holstrom, building a robust local food system is an important step in finding solutions to climate change.
The project envisions constructing greenhouses to raise fish and organic vegetables for local consumption. The aquaponics demonstration units will demonstrate how aquaponics works, and how communities can create models of “urban agriculture” – even in remote, high-altitude locales like Telluride.
“We are showing that growing food in the high country, though challenging, is both possible and fun,” Holstrom says.
Steve Cieciuch, a 23-year Telluride resident and co-founder of Telluride Grown, explained the motivation behind the project.
"After years of being inspired by Mountainfilm, I asked myself what role I could play in making a difference. I was very concerned about the long distance and high carbon footprint of getting our food to Telluride,” he says. He attended an aquaponics training session in Milwaukee, and the concept of Telluride Grown 'grew' out of that. Cieciuch connected with local food advocate Holstrom last fall; the duo have been working on moving the idea from concept to reality ever since. “We are incredibly excited to premiere the idea for a local aquaponics greenhouse at Mountainfilm, where so many great ideas are are born," Cieciuch says.
The goal, Holstrom says, is to create demo units for the Mountainfilm festival at the end of May which will also be available for display throughout the summer. Once the festival season has ended, the group anticipates incorporating these units “into our local schools, so that their impact grows locally as well as the ‘far and wide’ impact we anticipate from their presence at our well-attended festivals,” she says.
According to EcoAction Partners’ data, 100% of the food consumed in Telluride is imported, which results in a high carbon footprint. The most recent greenhouse gas inventory for the region shows that food is responsible for approximately 17-20% of the community’s total emissions.
EcoAction Partners and Telluride Grown are hoping community members will be inspired to get involved, and tax-deductible donations of any amount are greatly appreciated. For more information, contact Holstrom by phone at 970/708-0289, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.