Cultivating Community: Community-Supported Agriculture

Through a unique community-supported agriculture program, neighbors in a Boulder, Colorado, subdivision grow fresh, organic food to feed many families.

| March/April 2009

  • Community Roots' suburban microfarm grows enough food to fuel a CSA, sell at the farmer's market and to donate.
    Photography By Michael Shopenn
  • All sorts of people—volunteers, teachers, pilots, retirees—have become involved with Community Roots' microfarm project.
    Photography By Michael Shopenn
  • In exchange for donating their yards, homeowners receive a share of the produce without doing any work. Other volunteers perform the labor and also get a share.
    Photography By Michael Shopenn
  • Community Roots founder Kipp Nash (right) and volunteer Alex Melinkoff work in on of the group's food gardens.
    Photography By Michael Shopenn
  • Twenty-five CSA member families ride bikes or walk to a church to pick up their weekly share of Community Roots' local, organic foods.
    Photography By Michael Shopenn
  • By growing a variety of vegetables, Community Roots harvests enough food to share with the landowners, including St. Andrew's church, which donated a field.
    Photography By Michael Shopenn
  • Community Roots volunteers sell their homegrown produce at the Boulder County Farmer's Market on Saturdays.
    Photography By Michael Shopenn

Through a unique community-supported agriculture program, neighbors in a Boulder, Colorado, subdivision grow fresh, organic food to feed many families. The antithesis of pesticide-laden,
monocrop agribusiness, the produce—grown in suburban yards—requires little or no fossil fuels to get from farm to table.

Walk along a cluster of streets in Boulder’s Martin Acres subdivision and you’ll find front yards filled with rows of zucchini, tomatoes, eggplants, broccoli, onions, lettuce and arugula. You won’t see a red barn or cows, but a working organic farm lies hidden among the ranch-style and tri-level 1950s and 1960s homes.
Thirteen tiny plots scattered throughout neighborhood yards total less than an acre, yet the cobbled-together microfarm feeds about 50 families. This suburban garden is the work of Community Roots, an organization created in 2006 by Kipp Nash, a part-time bus driver. With help from his neighbors and other volunteers, Nash is providing locally grown organic food—and addressing environmental and social issues.

“This program is a beacon of hope that anyone in our neighborhood can access,” Nash says. “People everywhere are aching to connect to their food sources and to each other, but so often next-door neighbors don’t know each others’ names. Community Roots brings it all together.”

Homeowners offer their yards—plots ranging from 600 to 3,500 square feet—and water for irrigation; Community Roots members plant, water, weed and harvest. Every contributor receives a share from the community gardens.

Meet, greet and eat

Nash, a former apprentice at an organic farm, came up with the multiplot urban farm concept in 2005 and took out an ad in the neighborhood newsletter asking for space to garden. “The whole project snowballed when we planted in our next-door neighbors’ front yard,” he says. “Then everyone got curious.”

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