Carbondale schools try ‘Community Sustainable Agriculture’ |

Carbondale schools try ‘Community Sustainable Agriculture’

John StroudGlenwood Springs correspondentAspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – Families in four Carbondale schools can buy fresh, regionally grown produce once a week through a new school-based CSA, with some of the money going back to support the respective schools’ community garden projects.Community Supported Agricultural (CSA) programs, or in this case “Community Sustainable Agriculture,” work like a member-based cooperative.Participants from Crystal River Elementary, Carbondale Middle, Carbondale Community and Roaring Fork High schools commit from week to week to buy a certain amount of produce for a set price.In this case, for $25 families can choose between three different plans providing a variety of seasonally fresh vegetables, salad greens, fresh and dried fruit, juice, farm-fresh eggs and pasture-raised, hormone-free ground beef.In turn, $2 from each order will go back into the participating schools’ community garden program.School-based gardens and greenhouses are a growing trend at some Roaring Fork Valley schools where they are being established as a way for students to learn about locally supported and sustainable agriculture.Recent valley transplant Scott Franklin Manning helped set up similar school-based garden and CSA projects in California.Upon moving to Glenwood Springs, he began contacted local schools to find out which ones would be interested in setting up CSAs to support their schools.”I got an immediate response from Carbondale,” Manning said. “We’ve been working on it for about a year now and eventually got all four of the schools signed up. I basically come in and show them how to do it.”Manning serves as the program director and takes a percentage himself, $3 per order, until the programs are up and running.”I’m the middle guy connecting the farms to the schools,” he said. “It’s something that can be minimized over time, and then I can hand it over to the schools.”Manning worked locally with Brook LeVan of Sustainable Settings Ranch outside Carbondale to get things rolling. He was put in touch with growers in the North Fork Valley to provide the goods, including Delicious Orchards & TLC Farms of Paonia, and Big B’s Organic Juices.”We’re calling it Community Sustainable Agriculture, which is kind of a hybrid CSA,” Manning said. “We’re picking growers that are sustainable, but not necessarily certified organic. But the farms I work with are above and beyond organic.”It’s a good way to let people know what organic really is,” he said.At Roaring Fork High, Woody Creek-based Fat City Farmers is setting up a school-based greenhouse, and a sustainable agriculture curriculum was begun this year as part of the science program. A school-based CSA farm school is also being established at RFHS this summer.”It’s a good way to involve students and have them volunteer to help run the CSA,” Manning said. “I’m on a mission to try to have as many schools in the Garfield County area as possible have their own week to week commitment to CSA.”All four participating schools will have their first CSA deliveries on Tuesday. Orders must be placed by the prior Sunday by 9 p.m., pick-up is for 30 minutes at school dismissal time each Tuesday. Each school will have their own pick-up location where students, parents, staff and community can receive their weekly order.For more information about the program, contact Manning by phone at (650) 465-0245, or by e-mail at