Pedaling the food chain

Tour de Farms offers a rolling look at La Plata County ag

Among the in-town stops on the Aug. 27 Tour de Farms will be this house on Forest Avenue, where Heather Downing and Bob Orbelo have made every inch count. Downing looks for vegetables Tuesday that are ready for the picking in her front yard. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Herald

Among the in-town stops on the Aug. 27 Tour de Farms will be this house on Forest Avenue, where Heather Downing and Bob Orbelo have made every inch count. Downing looks for vegetables Tuesday that are ready for the picking in her front yard.

The fifth annual Tour de Farms next week is a sampler of La Plata County agriculture at its best, says the director of the Colorado State University Extension in Durango.

And on Aug. 27, it can all be seen from the seat of a bicycle. Whether you’re up for the long, 25-mile tour, or just do the in-town ride, you’ll be introduced to a wide variety of agriculture, Darrin Parmenter said.

Tour No. 1 is a 5-mile, in-town ride to see four home gardens and a school garden in the greater core area.

Those on the short tour will see different ways to produce food on relatively small plots, Parmenter said.

“They’ll see how home gardeners adjust techniques for soil conditions, slope and climate,” he said.

Tour No. 2 is a 25-mile swing out and back on La Posta Road (County Road 213). On the tour are Farm-I, which produces food for schools; Rainbow Springs Trout Ranch; San Juan Mountain Nursery; and Sunnyside Meats, a certified-organic meat producer.

Seasoned tour guides and bicycle mechanics will accompany the groups.

Participants will have the opportunity on each tour to chat with gardeners and business owners.

“The tours are educational and inspire people to grow some of their own food,” said Darcy Craig, in her third year as a tour organizer and second year as co-director with Parmenter. “Children connect with where their food comes from.”

Tours will demonstrate how to take advantage of limited space, Craig said. People who live in town can have a roof garden, or apartment dwellers can participate in a community garden, she said.

“Durango has a sense of food security,” said Craig, who works with Healthy Lifestyle La Plata. “We’re connected to our sources of food.”

Tour de Farms is organized by Healthy Lifestyle La Plata and the Colorado State University Extension. Healthy Lifestyle La Plata is a coalition of health and wellness professionals focused on making a healthy, active community.

Sponsors, in addition to the organizers, are Ska Brewing Co., Mercy Regional Medical Center, Zia Taqueria, Namaste Health Center, Hassle Free Sports, Nature’s Oasis, Trails 2000 and Chip Peddler.

daler@durangoherald.com

One of the 50 Roma tomato plants bears fruit in Heather Downing and Bob Orbelo’s garden. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Herald

One of the 50 Roma tomato plants bears fruit in Heather Downing and Bob Orbelo’s garden.