Life is strange. And interesting. The next time I forget that, would you please kick me in the bucket and tell me to open my eyes. Here’s a mild example of the serendipitous strangeness I believe surrounds us daily: here I am at Tasty Harmony for a friend’s birthday lunch. As I wait with my pot of GenMaicha, I’m crafting and drafting my thoughts for this week’s blog post about The Urban Farm Company of Colorado. In the little plastic placard holder on the table is a mini-flyer advertising … no less than, yup, The Urban Farm Company of Colorado. Funny how once you become aware of something it begins to show up everywhere. It’s this term called ‘relevance’, where the brain filters information according to what is or has recently become … well, relevant.
Well, expect to start seeing The Urban Farm Company of Colorado everywhere. It’s relevant. Not because it’s now been brought to your attention via Farming Fort Collins or the placards on the tables at Tasty Harmony. What The Urban Farm Company is DOING here in our city is relevant. Its mission is relevant. Its founder and owner, Bryant Mason, has his finger on the pulse of relevant.
Bryant is an up-and-comer, a member of the Y generation (or is that Z? I forget, I am an X-Gen-er.) A CU graduate in Economics and Environmental Studies, Bryant has a passion for food and farming, for decentralized agriculture and socio-environmental issues. In fact, his discourse on the way that local food addresses most of our current major social and environmental problems is staggeringly accurate and surprisingly simple. Less than a year ago Bryant created a company that would integrate his love for farming and taste for food with his social concern and his head for business. That’s The Urban Farm Company of Colorado and in a nutshell what it does is install gardens for individuals, families and businesses. That’s the business plan. But like all good and sustainable business plans, it springs from a vision, a purpose, a mission. Because Bryant’s words are way better than my paraphrasing, here’s a segment of my interview with Bryant as he shoveled soil.
Me: Tell me a little about the history of your company and what it springs from?
Bryant: Well, I realized that food is a leverage point for many of our current issues today … from diabetes to economics to obesity to environmental impact. Besides that, gardening is FUN! Addressing these issues using fun is so much better than, say, turning off lights or driving less, though those are important, too. So I realized that this needs to happen (we need to get people gardening and growing their own food), how can I make it happen? I came at it not from a business perspective but from a foodie perspective. Let’s grow better, tastier, healthier food, address multiple social issues and have fun doing it!
(TAKE HOME POINT: Food farming is way more than just Grandma’s hobby!)
Me: What is the value of having Urban Farm Company install a garden for me? (Bryant’s company installs raised vegetable beds complete with soil and starter plants, provides consulting and design and garden coaching.)
Bryant: The biggest value is that we make gardening easy. There are components of gardening that people may not know much about, like soil quality. I like to use the analogy of going to a gym for the first time. You need someone to show you how to use the machines. We come in, we prepare the area, do the back-breaking work, provide a soil that you can’t get anywhere else, help you plant the plants, and then you get to do the fun stuff of watching them grow, harvesting, and eating!
(TAKE HOME POINT: Urban Farm Company is for those of you like me who are all thumbs when it comes to power tools or have a husband who gets really cranky about yard work or are seriously too busy to think about hauling or amending soil.)
Me: Tell me about your soil.
Bryant: We use coconut husks instead of peat moss. It’s got biochar in it, which is a carbon-sequestering agent, worm castings, and compost and organic fertilizer. It is RICH in microbial life, which is the key. Microbes build soil structure, fix nitrogen for plant use, and help plants uptake nutrients.
(TAKE HOME POINT: Microbial Mecca = Better Yields, Better Nutrition, Better Taste)
Me: What would you like people to know about The Urban Farm Company of Colorado?
Bryant: That it’s never too late to get a garden in! We get to this point in the season and people think, oh, I missed it, oh well, next year I’ll get a garden going. Actually, there’s still time to plant summer crops and get a fall harvest. In the fall you can plant cool season crops, winter them over and be eating salad from your garden in March. Plus, the soil structure is getting built by the microbes through the fall and winter, so you’re that much better off for spring planting.
(TAKE HOME POINT: Plant, plant, plant!)
Bryant’s vision is one of de-centralized agriculture, one where families and businesses grow their own food, one where we green our cityscape – rooftops, medians, yards – not with turf but with food. And it’s not just a vision. He’s making it happen. The Urban Farm Company of Colorado has installed FORTY gardens since their launch on April 5th!
I’m in. Count me in on this mission. I’m inspired. Again.
What do YOU think about Bryant’s view of gardening as a way to address social and environmental issues?
The Urban Farm Company of Colorado
Bryant Mason, Owner and Founder
SEE URBAN FARM COMPANY’S WORK AT:
Tri-Life Health, Prospect and Timberline
VISIT WITH THE URBAN FARM COMPANY TEAM AT:
Larimer County Farmers’ Market, Saturdays, 9a-12p
Grant Family Farms Spring Farm Tour – TOMORROW! 9a-4p
Because it’s about farming Fort Collins, y’all!