It has been a crazy 2 weeks, but we’ve pulled it off!

A Low-Income Low-Access map of El Paso County

A Low-Income Low-Access map of El Paso County as pulled from the USDA Economic Research Services (

On May 8, 2014, the  USDA announced  that Agricultural Marketing Services  made $30 million available through competitive grants toward local and regional food systems, including food hubs, farmers markets, aggregation and processing facilities, distribution services, and other local food business enterprises.  Steve Saint and yours truly met and we decided to throw our hats over the wall and apply.

We have applied (well, submitted the Request for Application RFA) for a Planning Grant (the other option being an implementation grant). The planning grant will be for the Pikes Peak Foodshed: a local food system assessment for El Paso County. One of the bits that make us a higher priority is showing that we have Low-Income / Low-Access tracts within the county (see image). For those of you interested to read more, below the Executive Summary and Background Statement. For the grant nerds among you, here the Pikes Peak Foodshed Grant Narrative.  I’ve also written a few blog entries on MarketLocalFood.

We will be calling on a number of organizations in the area, and are very interested in partnering – the Green Cities IS ABOUT COLLABORATION. If you know you want to work with us on this effort, please contact Ingrid Wood or Steve Saint.

Executive Summary:

The purpose of Pikes Peak Foodshed project is to provide an assessment of the existing food system in El Paso County, following the United Nations four pillars of food security:

  • Availability: natural resources (soil, water), production, processing, packaging, finances (loans, grants)
  • Access: transportation, distribution, marketing, publicity, outreach
  • Utilization: health and nutrition, consumer profiling
  • Stability: sustainability, economic development, waste management, future farmers, local food policy

This food system assessment will benefit all of El Paso County residents and stakeholders by providing critical data that can support further determination and backing of projects and policies around issues regarding local food, such as: food hubs, infrastructure, processing and distribution systems, labor and economic development, urban homesteading, food banks, homelessness and health.

Ultimately, we expect to engage scores of food-shed stakeholders in the development of a comprehensive and implementable food localization plan for the Pikes Peak Region. However, to be able to do this, we must start with an inventory, which is the goal of this planning project.

Background Statement

For the past 5 years, a number of initiatives have been started in the Pikes Peak region in the hopes to accomplish a local food system assessment. A number of individuals and organizations are interested and willing to participate, however due to lack of financial support none of these initiatives have been completed. As Green Cities Coalition we firmly believe that the funding possible by the USDA Local Food Promotion Program would allow for these various early efforts to be combined and completed in the Pikes Peak Foodshed project.
Here a summary of recent events: (WE KNOW THERE IS MORE – please send us more!)

2009 – Green Cities Coalition members Deb Carr, Ingrid Wood, Scott Harvey, Steve Saint, Frank & Kirin Kinder, Michele Mukatis, Becky Elder, Gary Rapp and Judith Rice-Jones founded the Local Food Working Group (LFWG). The City of Colorado Springs publishes its “Guiding Principles for a More Sustainable City Organization” without any mention of food.

2010 – Colorado College student Laura Parker organizes the Final PPR 2030 Plan to explore the challenges and opportunities of the region’s local food system. About 50 stakeholders (including farmers, ranchers, urban gardeners, restaurateurs, chefs, healthcare professionals, school leaders and parents) convene. The conclusion calls for an ongoing “strategic approach” to creating a “viable regional food system.” No further action was taken.

GCC Summit 3 Flyer2012 – The Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council publishes its first directory of local-food coalition groups around the state. No one is listed from Colorado Springs.

2011The Pikes Peak Regional Sustainability Plan is published after more than two years of meetings. The Agriculture Task Group articulates one major goal broken down into 10 strategies: “By 2030, regional farmers and producers have the opportunity to make their livelihoods in agriculture, while providing safe, quality food to the region’s consumers, protecting agricultural lands to the maximum extent possible, and contributing to the health and stability of their communities.” The LWFG finds two priorities among the 10 strategies:

1.2 Improve regional food systems so that locally grown food gets to local consumers, especially low-income consumers. For example, identify food deserts and encourage healthy food groceries, gardens, and other options and increase consumer accessibility to sustainably produced foods

1.5 Promote urban agriculture and its benefits by educating people about how to produce their own food or how to access locally grown food.

As a footnote, the Regional Sustainability Plan Agriculture element notes that there is no existing strategic plan to achieve these goals.

– The Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council publishes its first directory of local-food coalition groups around the state. No one is listed from Colorado Springs.

2014 – The Green Cities Coalition hosted a ‘Local Food = Local Jobs’ Summit on January 31 in Manitou Springs, which was well attended. Speaker Brian Potts, planner with Summit County gave a presentation on how Local Food production – or the lack thereof – impacts the local economy and jobs. A state Summit for Colorado Food System Coalitions is held in Denver. One of the proposed vision statements reads, “A statewide, coordinated, regionally sensitive coalition to define food systems and support local food production. They define regions, systems goals, guiding principles and strategies for both state and regional level, and develop alliance; food hub location.” No one from Colorado Springs attends.

Green Cities Coalition: Proposed Food Security Framework and Partners

The United Nations identified “four pillars of food security” at its World Summit on Food Security in 2009: availability, access, utilization, and stability (source: ). We have built a framework for a local food-system plan from these pillars. We have also listed experts who have been involved in food system discussions who should be invited to help develop the ongoing strategic plan, of which the first step is to complete the Pikes Peak Foodshed project:

Availability Natural Resources & RisksFunding Availability













Water, Soil, Flood, Fire, Pests, ClimateInvestments, Loans, Grants





Urban gardens



USDA required

Value Added



NRCS,USDA Rural Development, Pikes Peak National Bank


Dan Hobbs, Doug Wiley, Craig McHugh, Susan Gordon, Ferris Frost


Larry Stebbins, Sean Svette, Christine Faith, Becky Elder, Frank Kinder





Access TransportationDistributionMarketing







Publicity & Outreach









TBDMike Callicrate, Susan Gordon, Rick Hughes, Megan Andreozzi, Farley & David McDonough, Donna Ross, Lyn Harwell, Larry Stebbins



Ingrid Wood

Utilization Health & Hygiene



Consumer Profiling

Manufacturing practicesTBD



Rick Hughes, Lyn Harwell, Sean Svette, Vivian McGruderDept of Health,



Stability SustainabilityEconomic DevelopmentWaste ManagementFuture Farmers

Local Food Policy


Judith Rice-Jones

The Green Cities Coalition is a member based nonprofit organization that has been active in El Paso County since 2008. We promote ecologically, economically and socially healthy cities in El Paso County, for the benefit of present and future residents of the Pikes Peak region. We envision healthy, equitable and sustainable communities, both human and natural. More than 450 organizations, businesses and individuals have participated with our coalition, developing initiatives in many areas that impact the sustainability of the region.