Healthy Archuleta holds Growers and Producers Forum


Healthy Archuleta

The Sept. 14 Growers and Producers Forum was replete with information about recycling, composting, and raising grass-fed and finished beef on organically enriched pasture — a perfect storm of experiences that contribute to the goal of sustainable existence.

A composting business joined our meeting to share some exciting news regarding food waste pickup in Pagosa Springs. 

The business operates out of Durango with a plant close to Bayfield from which they export to surrounding users the most beautiful compost imaginable; both the feel of it and its smell suggests healthy, productive soil.

The exciting news is that they now have a contract with City Market here in Pagosa Springs to pick up food waste, primarily produce, at an estimated rate of one ton per week. The result will be a significant reduction in the amount of waste being transported to our local landfill and an increase in the quantity of healthy, usable compost for our local farmers and home gardeners.

They also shared information about a new program, the Compost Kiosk, currently piloting at a local business in Durango. This kiosk is a metal unit that is bear proof that will be accessible by the customer using a code that protects the kiosk from not only wildlife, but also from being used as a general trash receptacle.

The program is in the development stage and they are looking forward to possibly offering this service to both commercial businesses and homeowners in Pagosa Springs. This service is fee driven, at a projected monthly cost of approximately $24 per month. If requested, in return the customer will have delivered 15 gallons of finished compost for their gardens.

There was more important recycling news; Archuleta County will be hosting the upcoming County Waste Tire Recycling Event on Thursday, Sept. 29, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This free recycling event targets tires from passenger vehicles, light trucks and semis only, with a maximum of nine tires per delivering vehicle.

And, finally, there was a long session on organic beef production and pasture development from operators out of Tierra Amarilla, N.M. Their method of raising beef is a far cry from the cowboy and open range scenario. It is a compact arrangement of pastures where their special breed of a smaller Angus beef is pastured in dense numbers in a restricted area for a short period of time and then moved on to another pasture while the original pasture is let to rest and absorb the organic matter left behind. “Mob grazing,” as it is called, results in a luxurious regrowth of organic Timothy, orchard, clover, false rye grass and alfalfa to be consumed by the next “mob.” 

This process eliminates the use of commercial fertilizers completely. Their success with using sprinkler systems with this method has allowed them to replace the traditional “flood” irrigation, thus using water much more economically. In an effort to conscientiously grow the business and still be profitable, the farm works closely with the Natural Resources Conservation Service in land management, soil health and water conservation.

These three updates add materially to the local and regional efforts to deal more wisely with our limited resources, essentially all good news. Look for an announcement for our next Growers and Producers Forum in November.