Veggie Oil-Fueled Adventures in Colorado
Posted by Sarah Piper on February 28, 2013in Colorado, Events, Featured, Travel - 0 Comments
Piper’s Epic Road Trip stats so far:
• Gallons of veggie oil used: 35
• Gallons of diesel used: 9
• Miles driven: 1,710
• Number of student group meetings/presentations: 6
• Number of classes guest lectured in: 4
• Number of American Meat Screenings participated in: 2
• Number of farm visits: 2
This past week started out with a truly amazing trip to White Mountain Farm, which grows quinoa in the gorgeous San Luis Valley. I got a tour from Ernie New, whose son Paul now runs the family business, but Ernie was in charge in 1987 when White Mountain Farm incorporated and started growing organically certified quinoa and potatoes as part of a research project with professors at Colorado State University. They claim to be the only successful large-scale quinoa operation in North America, mainly due to the climate in Colorado, not the altitude as many believe. In addition to his growing operation, Ernie’s family also run an organic potato processing facility, one of only three like it in the country. This was such an amazing visit that I’m going to give its own blog post, coming up next.
Throughout my time in Colorado I got to guest lecture in four different classes, from “Global Inequality” to “Sustainable Development. I also got to speak with students and faculty at six different presentations and student group meetings outside the classroom. Whether it was talking about farmworker rights with 30 students/faculty during a lunchtime event at Colorado College, discussing animal welfare practices with students in Regis’s animal rights group The Bark Side before they played animal rights bingo/trivia, or having a potluck dinner with students and alumni hosted by Colorado College’s Sustainable House on campus so they could pick my brain about my car Charlene, the conversation was always stimulating.
Probably the best time I had with students was the tour of Venetucci Farm. I drove down to the farm along with five students from Regis’ sustainability committee, where we were met by eight Colorado College students and BAMCO Sous Chef Matt Butler. We got to hear all about the farm’s work within the community (like how they grow pumpkins so a different middle school class in the community can come pick their own pumpkins each year, and pumpkins for a local brewery that makes a Venetucci Pumpkin Ale out of them). Farmer Susan Gordon introduced us to some of her animal friends along the way, including the sows, Thelma and Louise, and the draft horses, Ayla and Duke.
Other highlights included seeing the professional-looking soda machine that Sous Chef John Lynch had made to serve his homemade sodas at Regis University. Last year when I visited, John had just started making his own sodas to give students an option that didn’t contain all of the icky stuff conventional soda does, and it gained such popularity that he’s now going through 20 gallons a week in 4 different flavors! I had the Bananas Foster, but other student favorites include Cranberry Lavender, Orange Crush, and Black Licorice.
The American Meat screenings at both Regis and Colorado College were a huge success, with so many people in attendance we had to bring in extra chairs, and still we had people squeezing in to sit on the floor. (BAMCO is sponsoring the 10-state screening tour of this evenhanded documentary about the meat system; read more here.) I was a panelist for the short discussion that followed the Regis screening, and at Colorado College I got to moderate, which was especially fun because I knew all of the panelists. In addition to our Farm to Fork rock star General Manager Beth Gentry and film director Graham Meriwether, panelists included Doug and Kim Wiley of Larga Vista Ranch, Susan Gordon and Patrick Hamilton from Venetucci Farm, and Mike Callicrate of Ranch Foods Direct, all of whom I had visited the last time I was in Colorado! It was great to see everyone again, and to get to moderate such a lively and lengthy discussion, that touched on so many aspects of the reality of farming.
Now I’m off to Ohio for another exciting two weeks of activities at Case Western Reserve University and Oberlin College. I’ll be a panelist at three different American Meat screenings, and moderating a fourth (for the screening schedule, check out the film’s website). Besides that, I’ll be at Case Western for most of the week guest lecturing in at least three classrooms, hosting an event on the main quad during community hour to talk about my road trip and Charlene, hosting a Dining Hall Iron Chef Competition with the dining board, and attending various student group meetings. What I’m most excited for at this point is a field trip with students from both schools to Green City Growers to learn about their year-round hydroponics operation in inner-city Cleveland!
I’m going to miss the mountains and all the wonderful people in Colorado. A big thank you to John Faulkner and the rest of the BAMCO team at Rastall’s Cafe at Colorado College for not only saving me veggie oil, but helping me filter, transport, and even clean my filters! Thanks for an amazing time in Colorado — now it’s time to hit the road.