In order to fulfill our mission of meeting people wherever and however they need us, Food Bank of the Rockies this past year partnered with Ekar Farm in Denver to source seeds to distribute to 11 partners across Colorado and Wyoming. Overseeing this effort was Emma Alanis, program and outreach manager at Ekar Farm, and Steve Kullberg, chief operations officer at Food Bank of the Rockies.
Ekar Farm started in 2006 as a school project aimed at teaching students at Denver Academy of Torah about farming’s role in Jewish culture. Up until recently, the farm donated the 22,000 pounds of produce grown on its two-acre plot to partners around metro Denver and that was that: Grow the food, donate the food. But then the pandemic hit.
“We switched models in 2020 and decided we wanted to do more programming and community work,” said Alanis. “We realized we could be a stronger force for good than just being a distributor or producer; we could be more integrated into the community and provide more resources.”
Thus, Ekar Farm became the Rocky Mountain seed hub of the Cooperative Gardens Commission, an organization dedicated to getting seeds into peoples’ hands and teaching them how to grow them.
In its first year, Ekar Farm distributed 3,000 seed packets to partners. In 2021, that number grew to 7,000. This year, they supplied partners with 10,000 packets.
“Being a seed hub really connected us to a lot of our partners, which was a great benefit because it enabled us to offer more resources and support,” said Alanis. “We always have to work with what we’re given, so if we can find more tools, resources, and ways to get the community involved — that’s what we need.”
Another way Food Bank of the Rockies strives to provide our neighbors with the nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables they need to thrive is through the FRESH Program, which in fiscal year 2022 supplied Hunger Relief Partners with an average of over 790,800 pounds of produce at no cost every month. In total last year, the Food Bank provided over 9.5 million pounds of produce through FRESH — the equivalent of more than 260 trailers, each 53 feet long. Of that 9.5 million, 20% was grown in Colorado.
By partnering with a diverse array of community organizations, programs, and thought leaders, Food Bank of the Rockies is able to strengthen innovative initiatives and programming like FRESH and the Ekar Farm seed pilot. It is through these partnerships that we can provide our neighbors with the wholesome, nourishing food the need to thrive, and the resources they need to flourish.
Inspired to support initiatives like FRESH and the Ekar Seed Program? Consider donating today. 96 cents of every dollar goes directly to programs like these and Food Bank of the Rockies’ numerous other efforts to feed our community.