OSMRE / VISTA Team Projects
OSMRE / VISTA: Alan Smith
Supervisor: Holly Conn
Address: PO Box 323, Gunnison, Colorado 81230
Voice Telephone: 970-417-7848
Web site: www.mountainrootsfoodproject.org
Congressional District: 3rd
Bureau: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)
Mountain Roots Food Project cultivates a resilient food system in the Gunnison Valley by enhancing healthy connections between food, earth, and community. Mountain Roots fosters knowledge, teaches skills, and provides opportunities that ensure access to affordable, nutritious food that is regionally based and sustainably produced.
About the Surrounding Community
Gunnison County was populated as the result of a boom in the mining industry in the 1870s. Today, Gunnison County’s barriers to accessing healthy foods for its population are both economic (low incomes) and physical (absence of fresh food growers and retailers). Gunnison’s underserved Latinos, Cora Indians, seniors, and low-income youth are most affected by these barriers. Overall poor nutrition knowledge and unhealthy behaviors contribute to downward trends in physical activity and healthy lifestyles, particularly in seniors and youth. Of the residents living in the zip codes served by the Mountain roots Food Project, 21.8% live below the national poverty level.
The project supports community revitalization through economic redevelopment projects that increase awareness, understanding, and access to local history, culture, and the relationship between the river and the community. The OSMRE/VISTA develops and pilots a Low-Income Fresh Food Voucher program for participants of Public Health’s Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients; donates local produce to food banks, senior community organization, and local schools; assists in designing a program for backyard chicken raising/egg sales micro-businesses; plans and coordinates the installation and management of neighborhood organic vegetable gardens; coordinates a weekly Farmers’ Market booth; and develops a program that encourages local gardeners to share the harvest or donate food to the needy. In addition, the project assists Mountain Roots Food Project’s Access and Outreach program by developing and implementing programs that help community members access affordable, fresh, nutritious food that is regionally based and sustainably produced. The OSMRE/VISTA models and assists in teaching sustainable, small-scale farming and organic food production practices that create and preserve green space, improve soils, protect water quality, and provide habitats for birds and pollinators. By promoting community education and awareness, the OSMRE/VISTA’s work engages low-income community members as active participants in the community food system, and helps Mountain Roots to address the intersections of poverty, food access, and equity through community-based strategies.