As an innovator in the Boulder Food Movement and functioning farm for 21-years, Pastures of Plenty is a role model in the community; Please grant them the right to host 12 "farm-to-table" events per year.
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Dear Supporters of Pastures of Plenty,
Lyle and I write you on behalf of our farm in the hope of setting new precedent for many Boulder County farms while sustaining our own farm and family economy. To be candid, we are in a bigger pickle at Pastures of Plenty than we ever could have imagined. After farming actively for 21 years, and hosting events at our farm for 17 of those years, we will no longer be allowed to continue our approach to local farming and food here in Boulder County due to new policy and regulations.
Since last May, we’ve been working with Boulder County Planning and other county departments in an effort to be approved to host up to 12 events this summer. If not approved, we will legally be allowed to host six events. This is a result of the County’s 2-year old “Farm Events” policy which was developed with the intention of providing value-added to local farmers. While we began “field-to-table” events before the policy was even an idea, we have not been in compliance since the policy was instituted in 2013 fulfillment of regulations appeared impossible to us. We were, to be honest, civil disobedients. As a result of one neighbor’s complaint last May (the first in 17 years according to county officials), we now must cooperate and manage our farm within current regulations. There is no possibility for being ‘grandfathered in.’
This is where you come in:
- If you are supportive of Pastures of Plenty hosting up to 12 events (a 66% reduction over our summer average of 32 to 35 events), then share your voice!
- Attend the public hearing:
WHAT: Boulder County Commissioners Public Hearing – possible vote on our proposal for a special use permit to host up to 12 farm events at Pastures of Plenty
WHEN: May 7, 2015 – 2:00 pm MST
WHERE: Boulder County Courthouse on Pearl St., Boulder, CO
WHY: It’s a very democratic process – any citizen may speak up to three minutes and share their point of view, expertise and opinion
- Send Senior Planner Hannah Hippely of the Boulder County Land Use Department a letter of support at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Especially if you’ve attended or hosted an event at Pastures of Plenty, please speak in first-person describing the experience and/or how it is managed or why these type of on-farm events are important to the local food movement.
We’ve learned a lot in this arduous process. Here are some facts:
- - The 3-tier approach of Boulder County’s Food Event policy is:
- 1) all farms may have up to six events with minimal oversight,
- 2) some farms may be approved for 12 events with quite rigorous oversight, and
- 3) beyond 12 events a farm must apply to be an Event Center or Community Hall
- - To date, no local farm has been successful in achieving a 12-event status
- - According to County Planners, there is no other local farm also doing their own catering and that they would discourage this as they “…with intention have tried to separate agriculture and industry, and catering or a restaurant on a farm would be considered industry.”
- - According to Boulder County Environmental Health no caterer is allowed to “finish or assemble food” on any Boulder farm. This includes grilling, barbecuing, roasting or even tossing a salad. Thus, we’ve been illegal in cooking food on location at our farm and others for 17+ years.
- - Thus, a ‘farm-to-table’ meal in Boulder County can be harvested from local farms but must be transported to a Health Dept. approved kitchen or commissary and all food prepped there before returning to and serving food at farm.
- - The only way to prep food ‘on-farm’ legally is to rent a food truck or invest in a restaurant grade kitchen. No farm in Boulder has a restaurant grade kitchen, and the economics of investing in one for only 12 events are not favorable.
Our family’s intention is to remain a true working farm while economically sustaining the farm with value-added events which are authentic ‘farm-to-table” celebrations. In trying to find a balance between regulation and reality, we’ve decided to NOT apply for the Event Center permit.
We believe the Farm Event policy is nearly impossible to implement. While a noble definition for the Farm Events exists encouraging “socializing” and the eating of Boulder County and host farm ingredients at the event, the requirements, we are finding, are quite impossible to fulfill . We hope to advocate for the County Commissioners to use our farm this season as a pilot project. We will be completely transparent and can be used to create a more pragmatic program.
I admit I am growing weary of the “farm-to-table” movement, especially as it appears that here in Boulder the policy is more “farm-to-fable.” To be handcuffed from cooking on farm is just silly. Imagine our harvesting of salad greens in the morning, and then trucking them to town to clean, toss and dress them in an approved kitchen in town, and then burn fossil fuels to truck them back to farm, only to serve wilted local ingredients to guests.
We wish to be good neighbors. In being true to that intention, we are asking for approval to host and prepare food for up to 12 events this season. Let’s see if we can’t make that happen, together. We thank you for your support in advance.
Eat well. Be well.
Sylvia R. Tawse and Lyle R. Davis
Please feel free to reach out with questions at email@example.com.
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