In Western Colorado as well as across our entire service area, Food Bank of the Rockies is working hard to make more fresh fruit and vegetables available to the people we serve. A big way we’re striving to accomplish this is by partnering with local producers.
“One of the things we’ve learned is that perishable items are some of the hardest for people to pay for,” said Sue Ellen Rodwick, director of the Food Bank’s Western Slope Distribution Center. “Right now, about 30% of the food we distribute is fresh produce. We hope to get that up to 40%.”
To reach that goal, Food Bank of the Rockies has partnered with several Western Slope producers including Talbott Farms in Palisade and Spring Born in Silt, both of which are helping us meet our growing need for fresh, local produce.
Talbott Farms, well known for its peaches, apples, and other fruit, was established in 1945 by Harry A. Talbott. However, the family’s roots in Grand Valley fruit growing began in 1907, said Charlie Talbott, a grandson of Harry A. Talbott and co-owner of the business. Talbott Farms has been donating to Food Bank of the Rockies for nearly a decade. Since 2016, the company has donated more than 70,000 pounds of fresh fruit to be distributed across Colorado, and has sold the Food Bank another 200,000 pounds at discounted prices.
“What I appreciate most about the Food Bank is the spirit of cooperation, compassion, and volunteerism,” said Talbott. “It garners my full support and admiration. I’m also impressed by Food Bank of the Rockies’ sensitivity to make resources available in a way that doesn’t assault the dignity of their customers.”
Talbott Farms’ contribution expanded considerably in 2020, when the Food Bank was in need of additional refrigerated space to store fresh produce and Talbott Farms donated their space to use. “As bad luck would have it, it was the year we froze out, so we had space available in our coolers,” Talbott said.
“Our facility was just not large enough. We needed more space to handle USDA Farmers to Families food boxes,” Rodwick explained. “So, we approached Talbott Farms and they agreed to let us use some of their space. It worked out really well.”
Spring Born is a new business on the Western Slope that began growing organic leafy greens in August 2021 at its 3.5-acre indoor facility near Silt. “It’s a controlled environment that uses 95% less water than conventional farming techniques,” said Danielle Davis, director of marketing and sales for Spring Born. “It’s a really interesting agricultural model for the Western Slope and for our water.”
As of mid-May 2022, Spring Born has donated more than 36,600 pounds of fresh greens to the Food Bank, including its entire first harvest as it worked to determine which combinations of lettuce, kale, arugula, and other greens work best for the commercial market. The company is now selling fresh greens through a number of retailers.
Spring Born continues to donate a portion of each harvest to Food Bank of the Rockies. As company president Charles Barr explained, “Everyone deserves fresh, nourishing food. I’m proud to be a long-term partner to our communities’ food banks. Our neighbors are very supportive of the business, and it’s Spring Born’s responsibility to support our neighbors.”
Spring Born, Talbott Farms, and several other local growers are important to Food Bank of the Rockies — not just as donors, but as critical parts of the Western Slope community. “We’re so glad to be able to work with local producers,” said Rodwick. “Agriculture is such an important part of our local community, and we want to be involved with that community.”