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Photo: Shanna Lewis for KRCC
Muralist Valrie Eisemann is among the first four artists to work on the new levee wall in Pueblo, Colorado. She’s creating a mandala, KRCC reports.

Last month, I pondered the challenges presented over time by public art in the form of statues of historical figures. In the past, art that could last through the ages — Michelangelo’s “David,” for example, and the stone lions on the Greek island of Delos — was highly valued. Even painted frescoes were made to last, with pigments worked into plaster.

Nowadays, murals on buildings are proliferating, and I’m thinking that transitory art like that is a good idea. It’s OK for them to be painted over, worn out, or recreated with a new vision.

Today’s story is about a group of artists in Colorado doing just that.

Shanna Lewis reports for KRCC, “Bright colors have blossomed once again on the concrete face of Pueblo’s Arkansas River levee. Paintings are going up in an effort to reclaim a lost public art space and the title of the world’s largest outdoor mural.

“Muralist Valrie Eisemann of LaVeta is among the first of four artists to work on the new levee wall. Using paint donated by a local recycling company, as well as some that she bought herself, she’s creating a colorful mandala. …

“Muralists have to rope up for safety to work on the steeply sloped concrete. But that isn’t slowing any of them down.

“Each artist will bring their own unique vision and ideas to the project. Celeste Velazquez of Pueblo said her imagery is of a native woman that references the Azteca community, as well as Toltec and Olmec cultures.

“ ‘She’s going to have like four arms, almost like a shaman and there’s going to be the spirit Quetzalcoatl in the back of her in her native tent,’ Velazquez said.

“Puebloan Thomas Garbiso’s piece is a mountain view along I-70. … Aurora artist Kalyn Connolly’s design is of a deer with Colorado flora and fauna on its antlers, including columbines, crows and white butterflies.

“All the artists are excited to be among the first brush paint on the levee since construction to repair it started six years ago. … According to [artist and levee mural coordinator Cynthia Ramu], since the 1970s, hundreds of people helped create the murals that once lined the levee.

“ ‘Eventually, it became like a storybook for a lot of people,’ Ramu said. … Some of [the story] is literally underfoot because the concrete with the old murals was torn off during the repair project and then ground up and used to create a walking trail for the top of the levee. …

“She said, ‘I feel so excited at the possibility. It’s kind of like moving forward. It’s just endless possibility.’

Pueblo Arts Alliance director Karen Fogelsong agreed. … ‘One of my favorite things is to see beautiful art go on yucky cement,’ Fogelsong said. ‘So let’s put beauty on top of it. On viaducts on levees, on the sides of buildings, wherever we can make it beautiful.’

“Fogelsong thinks if Pueblo can regain the world record, it’ll draw tourists to the area to see it. The current record is held by a mural in South Korea that’s more than 254,000 square feet — so a lot of art is needed again to beat that.

“It could happen though. More applications for new murals are rolling in and creative energy is flowing along this part of the Arkansas River.”

More here.

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When residents of Holyoke, Colorado, saw local businesses struggling in the pandemic, they stepped up.

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start when many problems call for attention at the same time. In one small Colorado town, the almost unimaginable generosity of the community helped neighbors — and built a lifetime bond.

Cathy Free reports at the Washington Post, “Brenda Hernandez Ramirez thought she might have to close the doors of her family’s small-town Mexican restaurant for good when she was temporarily forced to shut down in March because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“With bills piling up and no income, ‘we weren’t prepared for the challenges that covid-19 brought,’ said Ramirez, who owns Taqueria Hernandez in Holyoke, Colo., population 2,313.

“When she and her employees heard in late March that a Help Holyoke campaign had been started to assist small businesses, Ramirez said she felt grateful, thinking she might get a few hundred dollars to help pay her utilities.

“Two months later, when Holyoke Chamber of Commerce Director Holly Ferguson stopped by with a check, Ramirez was shocked to learn that people in her farming community had donated their government stimulus checks and dipped into their bank accounts to raise $93,592 — enough to help every business in town affected by the shutdown.

“In addition to about $2,000 to pay her restaurant bills, Ramirez also received smaller checks for each of her six employees.

‘We were overwhelmed with emotion,’ said Ramirez, 24. ‘Feeling our community’s support during the pandemic gave us the ambition to keep on going. I’m beyond thankful.’

“The Help Holyoke fund came about after Tom Bennett, president of the town’s First Pioneer National Bank, wondered if people might be willing to part with the $1,200 stimulus checks that most had received from the federal government.

“Even during normal times, it’s not easy to run a business in a small town, he said. … ‘Having our restaurants, bars, salons, the gym and movie theater shut down was unprecedented. You start thinking, “What if that was me?” ‘

“Bennett contacted Ferguson, Phillips County Economic Development Director Trisha Herman and Brenda Brandt, publisher of the Holyoke Enterprise, and arranged a meeting at the newspaper’s office to talk about his idea to help save their downtown. …

“The group members quickly developed a plan: They would get the word out about Help Holyoke through the Enterprise, the local radio station and social media, plus enlist high school students to help call everyone in town. Once the donations were collected, they would cut checks based on how many employees each business owner had to lay off. …

“Karen Ortner, a family and consumer sciences teacher at Holyoke High School, rounded up members of the Family Career and Community Leaders of America club she advises and put the teens to work calling every household in Holyoke.

“ ‘We split up the phone book with two other student organizations — the Future Business Leaders of America and the Future Farmers of America,’ she said. ‘Almost everyone the kids called said they’d give what they could.’ …

“ ‘This is a supportive, tightknit town,’ added FCCLA President Amy Mackay, 17. ‘Everybody knows everybody and they knew exactly who that money would be going to in the end.’ …

“ ‘This was the best way we could make a difference,’ said Nancy Colglazier, 67, executive director of Holyoke’s Melissa Memorial Hospital Foundation. … Colglazier and her husband, Harvey Colglazier donated one of their $1,200 checks to the fund after seeing how abandoned their downtown had become, she said. …

“Said chamber director Ferguson, ‘Some gave $10, some gave $100 and little kids came to my office to empty their piggy banks,’ she said. ‘Everyone did what they could and showed overwhelming compassion.’ …

“In addition to receiving about $3,500 from Help Holyoke, Veronica Marroquin, 44, who runs Veronica’s Hair and Nail Salon, also received checks from customers who wanted to pay for the haircuts they missed due to covid-19, she said.

“ ‘I’d been really worried, and I got teary-eyed when I saw everybody’s generosity,’ Marroquin said. ‘I’m close friends with my clients — they’re family. But this took it to a new level,’ she said. ‘None of us will forget their kindness.’ ” More here.

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nahkofinal2

Photo: Michael Pierce
Nahko & Medicine for the People performs at the Four Corners Folk Festival in 2018. Recently, a local radio station agreed to take ownership of the festival.

There’s an Allen Ginsberg poem I love to the effect that sometimes things mysteriously appear just when they are needed. I thought of that poem when I read about a small radio station in Colorado’s Four Corners area taking on live shows it never imagined it could afford.

Braeden Waddell wrote about this at Current last summer.

“Public radio station KSUT in Ignacio, Colo., will assume ownership of two annual music festivals Sept. 30 as part of an agreement with local nonprofit organization FolkWest.

“No money will change hands as part of the arrangement. KSUT Executive Director Tami Graham said that the transfer of the Four Corners Folk Festival and the Pagosa Folk N’ Bluegrass Festival, both three-day events held in Pagosa Springs, Colo., was ‘an incredible donation’ to the station.

“The organizations had developed a relationship through a partnership of more than two decades, with KSUT sponsoring FolkWest in exchange for live studio sessions featuring artists playing for the festivals.

“ ‘My biggest goal with the acquisition of the festivals is just to maintain a really high level of production quality and a great experience for the musicians as well as the attendees,’ Graham said. …

“The decision was made after FolkWest Executive Director Crista Munro took on a new position heading the Sisters Folk Festival in Sisters, Ore. …

“ ‘It was a bittersweet moment for me, knowing that my chapter at the helm of FolkWest would be ending,’ Munro said in a post on KSUT’s website. ‘KSUT always seemed like a natural choice to take over our events. They do an amazing job with everything they produce, and Tami Graham brings a ton of live music production experience to the table.’ …

“Munro told Current that KSUT ‘believed in the vision’ she and her husband had for the festivals. ‘If it were anyone else taking this on, I would be a lot more nervous,’ she said. …

“In an interview with the Colorado Bluegrass Music Society, Munro said that the Folk N’ Bluegrass festival brings in about 2,000 attendees per day and the Four Corners Folk Festival draws nearly double that. …

“KSUT does not plan to make any ‘significant changes’ to the festivals but does aim to expand FolkWest’s Pagosa Folk N’ Bluegrass Jam Camps, which provide three days of music classes for adults and children.

“ ‘There’s a lot of grant funding available for music education … to support bringing in world-class stringed instrument musicians, for example, that want to want to teach and work with adults and youth,’ said Graham. … ‘This is just a perfect fit.’ ”

More here.

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5becce96818cc.image_Photo: Dani Hemmat
The elongated rocks seen above are called lithophones and are used to make xylophone-like music. Found in Colorado as well as other parts of the world, they are 6,000 years old.

Do you sometimes imagine being a person in a completely different period of history? What would it feel like? One thing I’m pretty sure of: you would behave has if your time period was the only one.

But today, let’s imagine living 6,000 years ago, before the European invasion, in what is now Colorado. Let’s imagine having an urge to make music.

Dani Hemmat writes at the Left Hand Valley Courier, “Colorado has rocks that, well, rock. They are called lithophones, and a local archaeologist who first came across these strangely shaped stones 40 years ago is finally sharing their musical story.

“Longmont archaeologist Marilyn Martorano first laid eyes on the long, baguette-shaped rocks almost four decades ago, as a volunteer at what is now Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in southern Colorado.

“The clearly hand-shaped stones, which had been discovered in the area, were housed in the on-site museum when Martorano first saw them. They were a strange set of artifacts for which no one had yet determined a use. Martorano put them back into their drawer, assuming that someday someone would figure out their purpose.

“Thirty years later, Martorano borrowed the rocks from the museum to study. While many had postulated that the rocks were tools for grinding, the absence of typical marks led Martorano away from that theory. She studied for three years, without success.

“The day before she was to return the rocks to the museum, a friend sent her a video that showed a collection of stones from Paris — stones that looked exactly like those she’d been studying. The rocks, musical stones classified as lithophones, had been found all over the world, but never in Colorado. After watching the video, Martorano started tapping the mysterious stones, and their purpose was suddenly clear. …

“ ‘The rock is very dense, usually volcanic, granite or basalt. In order to be shaped, it can’t be hit too hard or too soft,’ Martorano said.

“She presented some of her findings and artifacts during her open-to-the-public presentation on Nov. 8 at Front Range Community College (FRCC). FRCC instructor and Niwot musician Michael DeLalla had heard about Martorano’s work on public radio, and reached out to her. …

“Martorano demonstrated the different tones achieved by hitting the lithophones with wood, antler and bone. The lithophones produce sounds ranging from the sound of tapping on a crystal glass, to a wooden marimba, to a xylophone.

“ ‘Out of the 22 artifacts we studied, we got a minimum of 57 notes out of them. That’s at least two different notes from each stone,’ Martorano said. …

“While most of the stones Martorano has studied have come from the San Luis Valley area, lithophones have been found in the eastern plains of Colorado and near Salida as well. One Colorado percussionist, Jeff Shook, has found several lithophones while digging post holes.”

More here.

 

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Photo: Helen H. Richardson/Denver Post
Denver Performing Arts Complex in 2017. The creative economy in Colorado accounted for 4.3 percent of the state’s gross domestic product in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available.

It can’t be stated too many times that the arts are often an important driver of local economies — and a reason for states and municipalities to help artists be successful. Rhode Island, for example, aims to help artists by not taxing art sales, but the lack of affordable housing in the state remains a big problem.

Joe Rubino writes at the Denver Post about Colorado’s creative economy, noting that anyone who saw a show at the local opera house in 2015, bought a painting or book by a Coloradan, or visited a local museum “contributed to the $13.7 billion arts and culture brought to the state’s economy that year, a figure that outdid both the mining and transportation sectors. …

“The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts on [March 7] unveiled their most recent analysis of the economic impact of arts and culture in the U.S. In 2015, the year with the most recent reporting data, goods and services generated by museums, architecture firms, artists and other artistically inclined businesses and agencies accounted for 4.3 percent of the Colorado’s GDP. …

“[Nationwide,] creative industries accounted for a $20 billion trade surplus that year, according to the analysis. Work in arts and culture accounted for 4.9 million U.S. jobs in 2015. Of those, 100,631 were in Colorado. …

“The analysis, collectively known as the Arts and Cultural Production Satellite Account, or ACPSA, looked at 36 industries that contributed to America’s arts and cultural economy. Some of them are considered core contributors — like museums and graphic design firms — and others are viewed as support industries [including] broadcasting. …

“When it comes to comparing states in the American West, arts and culture in Colorado ranked only behind California and Washington in terms of money made.”

More at the Denver Post, here.

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Photo: Luke Runyon/Harvest Public Media
In a small Colorado farm town, immigrants accept America’s least popular jobs. Now the town is helping them gain citizenship.

When you hear that immigrants are important to a farm town, you probably think of farm labor. But farm towns, like other small towns in America, struggle to find workers for many grueling jobs citizens don’t want.

Now the town of Brush, Colorado, is offering help to its new residents to become citizens themselves.

This Harvest Public Media report by Luke Runyon, broadcast on National Public Radio, explains.

“At the public library in the rural Morgan County town of Brush, Colo., Marissa Velazquez welcomes her students to class. It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and the day marks the halfway point in Velazquez’s class, a 10-week crash course on American history, civics and English.

“Nearly all of the students work in either meatpacking or dairying. Everyone in it has the same goal: become an American citizen. In two hours, Velazquez runs through voting rights, the legislative process and some grammar tips. …

“Morgan County has anchored its local economy to agriculture. A meatpacking plant, cheese factory, sugar beet processing plant and large dairy farms provide plentiful yet grueling jobs that require little proficiency in English, just hard manual labor. That has made the rural county a magnet for migrating immigrants and refugees. It now holds sizable Somali, Mexican, Ethiopian, El Salvadoran, Guatemalan and Honduran populations. …

“In some smaller towns … fear has spurred some to take steps to go from green card holders to fully fledged citizens.

“The number of people who applied for U.S. citizenship rose across the country in 2016. And while there are no definitive data for the first part of 2017, there are small indications that the same trend could be continuing this year.

“To become naturalized, applicants are tested with a series of questions about the U.S. They are given a dictation exam and an interview, most often in English.

” ‘That’s why we get to practice listening skills, writing skills, reading, so that they’re ready for when they go in for their interview to become a citizen,’ Velazquez says.

” ‘I never thought I would teach the class, because I took this class as a student,’ says Velazquez, who became a naturalized citizen in 2016.

“Citizenship classes are pretty standard in some parts of the country, often offered by nonprofit groups and immigration law firms. What makes this one unique is its size. In 2015, 10 people finished it. In 2016, just five. This year, Velazquez has a class of 21 students. In a rural area like Morgan County, that is huge.” More.

One thing you can say about immigrants who take those tough jobs: they work hard. I believe that the country is strengthened by people like that deciding to become part of it.

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Photo: Thomas Peipert/AP
Leaders of this Colorado Boy Scout troop say the group helps refugee kids adjust to American culture while providing a safe place where they can be themselves.

It may be surprising, given the news that grabs our attention these days, but stories about ordinary people showing kindness to refugees are everywhere. I can hardly keep up. Consider this KidsPost about a Colorado Boy Scout troop published in the Washington Post January 2, 2017.

“Boy Scouts Jean Tuyishime and Moise Tuyikunde sit around a campfire under a canopy of stars in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, joking and teasing each other as teenage brothers often do. Only 2½ years ago, they were a world away, living at a crowded camp in the central African nation of Rwanda (pronounced ru-WAHN-duh).

“The brothers were born in the Gihembe refugee camp after their parents fled violence in 1996 in what was then known as Zaire (zah-EER). They relocated with their family to the Denver area in 2014, and they gradually became a part of their new surroundings, learning to speak enough English to get by and signing up for a typical American experience — Boy Scouts.

“But the troop Jean, 15, and Moise, 12, joined is not like many others in the United States. Troop 1532 is composed almost entirely of refugees who hail from faraway places such as Burma, Rwanda and Nepal.

“At campouts, such traditional American food as hot dogs and trail burgers is replaced by fish head stew, fire-roasted corn and chatpate, a popular street snack in the Asian country of Nepal. Dessert, however, still includes s’mores. …

“Troop 1532, formed in 2014, could be a model for other Boy Scout groups looking to welcome young refugees. [Justin] Wilson and P.J. Parmar, a doctor who started the troop, say the kids’ backgrounds present challenges that other troops don’t face. Members come and go, which makes it hard to focus on earning merit badges and advancing in rank. …

“Many of the parents have little money and work long, odd hours, which makes it hard to plan meetings. Parmar said the scouts often can’t get to meetings, so he decided to gather only for camping trips. …

“Jean’s father, Jean Batacoka, a 37-year-old housekeeper with five children, says the efforts of Wilson and Parmar have helped his kids.

“ ‘What they do down there is not just leadership, because they learn discipline, how to behave, how to respect people who are older than them,’ he said through a translator. ‘I think it’s a really good thing for them, and I can see something is happening.’ ”

I have nothing but admiration for the men who organized this. Any scout troop requires a big commitment from adult leaders, as some readers of this blog know. The time and energy Troop 1532 leaders give to the unique challenges of refugee Scouts is especially remarkable.

More at the Washington Post, here.

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Julie Turkewitz writes at the NY Times about a mountain library planned by two not-exactly-wealthy book lovers with big ideas.

“The project is striking in its ambition: a sprawling research institution situated on a ranch at 10,000 feet above sea level, outfitted with 32,000 volumes, many of them about the Rocky Mountain region, plus artists’ studios, dormitories and a dining hall — a place for academics, birders, hikers and others to study and savor the West.

“It is the sort of endeavor undertaken by a deep-pocketed politician or chief executive, perhaps a Bloomberg or a Buffett. But the project, called the Rocky Mountain Land Library, has instead two booksellers as its founders.

“For more than 20 years, Jeff Lee, 60, and Ann Martin, 53, have worked at a Denver bookshop, the Tattered Cover, squirreling away their paychecks in the pursuit of a single dream: a rural, live-in library where visitors will be able to connect with two increasingly endangered elements — the printed word and untamed nature. …

“They have poured an estimated $250,000 into their collection of 32,000 books, centering the collection on Western land, history, industry, writers and peoples. There are tales by Norman Maclean; wildlife sketches by William D. Berry; and books on beekeeping, dragonflies, cowboys and the Navajo. …

“Mr. Lee and Ms. Martin have a grant from the South Park National Heritage Area and this summer will finally begin renovations, repairing two leaky roofs. Construction will be limited, however, as they have gathered less than $120,000 in outside funds. An estimated $5 million is needed to build out their dream.” More here.

Photo: Michael Ciaglo for The New York Times

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I do like stories about people who love their work so much that they never want to stop.

Perhaps it helps to have a talent like muralist Eric Bransby, who got to study with one of my favorite artists, Thomas Hart Benton. (Suzanne says I have a personal aesthetic, which is a polite way of saying I’m crazy about anything wavy, like Benton’s energetic American landscapes.)

Chloe Veltman writes at National Public Radio, “Eric Bransby is one of the last living links to the great age of American mural painting. He studied with one of this country’s most famous muralists — Thomas Hart Benton — and went on to create his own murals in prominent buildings across the west. The artist is now 98 and still painting.

“At his Colorado Springs studio, Bransby attacks a drawing with tight, sharp strokes, a pastel pencil grasped between gnarled fingers. His studio is unheated, but he doesn’t seem to notice the cold. He’s completely engrossed in the image taking shape on his easel. It’s a study for a new mural that he hopes to install at nearby Colorado College. He says he draws between two and eight hours every day.

” ‘Drawing has been a continuous thing for me, like exercises for a musician,’ he says. ‘It’s refreshing. I draw better. I paint better.’ …

“His parents didn’t encourage his artistic pursuits. It was during the Depression, and when he demanded that he get sent to art school, he remembers his parents said: ‘Well, he’ll do one year and he’ll come back so discouraged that we’ll make something else out of him.’

” ‘But that didn’t happen,’ Bransby says. ‘I found heaven.’ ” Read more here.

Photo: Nathaniel Minor/Colorado Public Radio
Eric Bransby, pictured above in his home in Colorado Springs, is still creating art at 98. “I try to make each mural a project that will somehow expand my abilities a little bit more,” he says.

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One of these days I hope to see a moose in the wild, but not under the circumstances described in this recent report on National Public Radio.

“It was the brown snout and ears that caught their attention. Then they heard noises coming from under the snow. That was reason enough for three passing snowmobile riders to jump off their machines and start digging.

” ‘It looked like a guy’s arm at first because we were expecting to see a skier,’ Marty Mobley told the Alaska Dispatch News. …

“Mobley said he and two friends, all residents of Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska, used their shovels to free the animal. …

“When the moose was mostly free, one of the men gently poked the moose, which suddenly stood up. Mobley said it looked like the abominable snowman, as it was covered in packed snow.

“It shook off the snow and ran down the mountain ‘at full steam’ and was apparently uninjured.

” ‘I am an animal lover, and I couldn’t leave it there,’ Mobley said. ‘Besides, we deal with a lot of avalanches and a lot of snow. That kind of karma is something we don’t pass up.’ ” More at NPR.

Photo: Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office, near Aspen, Colo./AP
Not moose but elk. It’s bad all over. Two out of three elk were saved in time.

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Poet friend Ronnie expressed admiration on Facebook for Colorado’s governor, who actively supports the arts, and she linked to an announcement about applying for the Governor’s 2014 arts awards.

“The 2014 Governor’s Creative Leadership Awards are now accepting nominations, through Feb. 27, 4 p.m. Formerly the Governor’s Art Awards, and given to locations or districts (Pueblo won one last year), this year it will recognize organizations and individuals who ‘demonstrated a significant commitment to Colorado’s creative landscape through civic leadership and volunteerism including advocacy, vision, collaboration or innovation.’ …

“Nominations are accepted under the following categories:

• “Arts and creative placemaking: Presented to individuals or organizations that use the arts to envision new futures through activities such as activating a public space, animating a community or sparking redevelopment.

• “Arts and community action: Presented to individuals and organizations that have demonstrated selfless service, inspired others to take action or catalyze change in their community using the arts.

• “Arts and social change: Presented to individuals or organizations that work to solve a critical social problem such as homelessness, drug prevention, abuse, poverty or racism using creativity and/or arts.”

In addition, you have until Feb. 3 to nominate Colorado’s poet laureate. More here on Colorado’s efforts.

Why don’t more states and cities promote the arts? I can think of places right now that should have their own creative arts districts. Or maybe a design district. Suzanne tells me that Helsinki, Finland, has attracted international recognition for its own design district, here. I like how they define it as a state of mind rather than by specific street boundaries:

“Design District Helsinki is a neighbourhood and a state of mind.  It is creativity, uniqueness, experiences, design and Finnish urban culture.”

Photo: Salida Creates
Downtown Salida is a Certified Colorado Creative Arts District.

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Did you catch Luke Runyon’s story about a trend in suburban housing that sites homes near farms for the fresh food? It was at National Pubic Radio today (courtesy of Harvest Public Media).

According to Runyon, “There’s a new model springing up across the country that taps into the local food movement: Farms — complete with livestock, vegetables and fruit trees — are serving as the latest suburban amenity.

“It’s called development-supported agriculture, a more intimate version of community-supported agriculture — a farm-share program commonly known as CSA. In planning a new neighborhood, a developer includes some form of food production — a farm, community garden, orchard, livestock operation, edible park — that is meant to draw in new buyers, increase values and stitch neighbors together.

” ‘These projects are becoming more and more mainstream,’ says Ed McMahon, a fellow with the Urban Land Institute. He estimates that more than 200 developments with an agricultural twist already exist nationwide. …

“In Fort Collins, Colo., developers are currently constructing one of the country’s newest development-supported farms. At first blush, the Bucking Horse development looks like your average halfway-constructed subdivision. But look a bit closer and you’ll see a historic rustic red farm house and a big white barn …

“When finished, Bucking Horse will support more than 1,000 households. Agriculture and food production are the big draws, [developer Kristin] Kirkpatrick says. Land has been set aside for vegetables. There will be goats and chickens, too, subsidized by homeowners. Soon they’ll be hiring a farmer for a 3.6-acre CSA farm. There’s also a plaza designed for a farmers market, and an educational center where homeowners can take canning classes.”

Sounds like fun. Read more.

Photo: Serenbe Farms
Paige Witherington is the farmer at Serenbe Farms, a 30-acre certified organic and biodynamic farm adjacent to a housing development outside Atlanta. It’s one of more than 200 subdivisions with an agricultural twist nationwide.

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Jeremiah Gallardo, a Colorado native, clicked on yesterday’s post, and I thought I’d have a look at his blog, too.

I don’t know much about Colorado. The closest I got to knowing anything at all was having a college roommate from Boulder.

Jeremiah has a nice entry today about a German Christmas market, the Denver Christkindle Market, which he took photos of. He says it runs until December 25.

“The vendors are in little wooden houses,” he writes, “that were built days before the market event.

“My first stop at the market was the hand-blown glass vendor.  I watched him make a glass icicle decoration in a few minutes, right before my eyes. I bought a green glass pickle decoration.

“Why on earth did I buy a green glass pickle? Because it’s linked to a German tradition where you hide a pickle deep inside the tree and the first child to find it gets to open an extra gift.”

You know, if I had a glass pickle, I might just try it myself.

More about the German market’s crafts and food at Jeremiah’s blog, WhiteLiger.net. You will like his pictures. And his enthusiasm.

Photo:

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A library seed program, described by Luke Runyon at National Public Radio,  reminds me of the sharing concept behind Heifer Project International (if you are given a chicken or a rabbit or a calf, you must give some of the offspring to another person in need).

“In a corner of the library, Stephanie Syson and her 4-year-old daughter, Gray, are just finishing a book with a white rabbit on the cover.

“When Gray approaches the knee-high shelves filled with seed packets, she zeroes in on a pack labeled ‘rainbow carrots.’

” ‘We just read two books with bunnies in them, so we’ve got bunnies on the brain,’ Syson says.

“Syson flips through a wicker bin labeled ‘carrots’ and offers other varieties to Gray, like ‘atomic red’ and ‘cosmic purple.’

“Here’s how it works: A library card gets you a packet of seeds. You then grow the fruits and vegetables, harvest the new seeds from the biggest and best, and return those seeds so the library can lend them out to others. …

“The library’s director, Barbara Milnor, says in the age of digital, downloadable books and magazines, the tangible seed packets are another way to draw people in.

” ‘You have to be fleet of foot if you’re going to stay relevant, and that’s what the big problem is with a lot of libraries, is relevancy,’ she says.

“Milnor says that while a library may seem like an odd location for a project like this, seeds and plants should be open to everyone. That makes a public library the perfect home for a seed collection.” More.

The sharing aspect is what stands out to me. Remember the post about Hebden Bridge in England and how people were planting in random bits of land and making the produce to free to anyone? Check that out, too.

4/7/13 Update: A similar effort in Concord, http://www.concordseedlendinglibrary.org.

Photograph: Dylan Johns
The seed library is a partnership between the Basalt Public Library and the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute. Seed packets encourage gardeners to write their names and take credit for their harvested seeds.

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At some point in my childhood, family friends raised goats. It seemed exotic. The Gordon children drank goat’s milk. And we learned that goats will eat anything when my brother tried to pat a goat and lost his mitten.

In addition to mittens, goats eat weeds, and increasing numbers of individuals and groups are deciding to use goats instead of herbicides to control weeds.

Evan Allen writes in the Boston Globe, “According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the use of goats to control invasive species, already common out West, is becoming more common across the East Coast.

“Goats love woody shrubs and vines, making them ideal weed-whackers. Using goats cuts down on the need for herbicides, and, unlike tractors, goats don’t require diesel fuel to do their job. And nimble goats can easily maneuver across rocky or marshy surfaces that humans and machines can’t safely reach.

“ ‘Folks are looking for long-term means of control,’ said Eric Schrading, private lands coordinator at the Fish and Wildlife Service. ‘As the last 30-plus years have gone by, we’ve started to, maybe not abandon chemical control, but use that as only one tool in the toolbox.’ …

“In Wellesley, the goats were shuttled out to the Boulder Brook Reservation in a bright pink truck driven by a crew from the Goat Girls: Hope Crolius, owner of the Amherst-based business, and two of her goatherds.” Read more here.

For a video about goat weed control, check out this clip from Bear Creek Park in Colorado.

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