Paul Andersen: Fair Game |

Paul Andersen: Fair Game

Paul Andersen
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

The national economy has become a tar baby that you stick to at your own peril. One look at the grim faces of the folks standing in line at the IndyMac Bank and your faith in “the system” becomes a little shaky.

Even in “recession-proof” Aspen the cornucopia of land development will stagger under astronomical construction costs, the high hurdles of government approvals and tight money. Given the fading discretionary income of most Americans, the land boom of the past 40 years may suddenly become anemic. It will mean lost jobs and less affluence, but the tradeoff of reduced construction traffic and a hiatus from nail guns will be refreshing.

In today’s economic climate, we need to wean our communities off the centralized systems that are imploding on their own gravity and go local. At the top of the list is local agriculture. Given the volatility of fuel prices, the uncertainty of long-haul trucking, and the fact that grocery stores carry only several days worth of stock, local food production should be actively cultivated as a homeland security measure.

Homegrown agriculture contributes to reduced carbon emissions, good nutrition, support for regional farmers, and independence from the industrial food chain that will haul tonight’s dinner an average 1,500 miles to your table.

The homegrown movement makes a lie out of how land developers used to counter conservationists: “You can’t eat the scenery!” Well, today, you can eat the scenery and have it, too, thanks to a handful of local farmers who have been quietly tilling the soil.

These are the grassroots agrarians who have been greening the land while the world has reeled from the hustle and bustle of cheap energy, a world that is now tipping like the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the crumbling foundation of costly energy.

These are the people with dirt under their fingernails who have declared

independence from agribusiness conglomerates and supermarket chains. These are the people who we should come to now, hat in hand, asking how to feed ourselves, free of chemicals, poisons and fossil fuels.

These small local farmers have been planting rows and plucking seeds while life has gone racing madly by for the rest of us. These are the people who have been watching with pleasure as green chutes sprout from the living earth, hoping that one day their efforts would be appreciated. That day has come.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) is an acronym to remember. There is a growing consortium of CSA projects gearing up for the very real needs of the very near future. They grow fresh, organic, healthy food, and they sell it locally.

Aspen Homegrown at Ute City Farms ( is the closest CSA to Aspen. Located on a picturesque farm in the Woody Creek valley, Aspen Homegrown sells to local subscribers. But there’s an even more important service they provide.

Aspen Homegrown believes that you can give a man a fish, but that it’s better to teach a man how to fish. That’s why the CSA Farm School was created. It teaches young people about agriculture and the necessity of organic farming. Students volunteer to learn farming, run an actual CSA, and experience the day-to-day routines of an active farm.

This is no mere backyard hobby. It is a practical, productive and progressive means of providing local food for local people with minimal shipping costs and no middlemen. As a truly grassroots movement, CSA represents the best and highest use of the land. It deserves the support of people and governments throughout the Roaring Fork Valley.

You can’t eat a golf course. You can’t eat a subdivision. You can’t eat a high-rise condo hotel. But you can eat food from a farm tended by loving hands, caring hearts, and sound farming know-how. The time is ripe for supporting homegrown food.

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