What do the sun and schools have in common? This week it’s the EcoAction Roundtable being held Friday the 13th at 8:30 a.m. in the Wilkinson Public Library’s Program room.

Farms you say? Yes – of sorts.

We are delighted to have Tom Sweeny from the Clean Energy Collective and Brad Zaporski from San Miguel Power Association kicking things off with a presentation about SMPA’s Community Solar project – also known as a solar farm. This exciting opportunity offered by SMPA allows any member (anyone in their territory with a meter) to purchase solar panels that are part of a large array being built near Paradox. It’s an incredible sunny spot that will maximize incoming sun to harvest as electrical energy. You don’t have to put panels on your own roof or invest in an off-grid system. You can purchase a panel and receive a credit on your electrical bill for the power it produces. It’s a sweet system that is finding success in many locations throughout the world.

Just around the corner, the Clean Energy Collective kicked things off last year when it fired up an 858 kilowatt installation on 5 acres near the Garfield County Airport.

“The array’s 3,575-panels will produce more than 1.5 gigawatt hours of clean, renewable energy each year, serving up to 350 members of the Clean Energy Collective, which develops community-based renewable energy facilities. Based in Carbondale, Colorado, the CEC is pioneering the delivery of clean power generation through large-scale facilities collectively owned by participating utility customers. The CEC’s proprietary RemoteMeter system automatically calculates monthly credits and integrates with existing utility billing systems, enabling all residential and commercial utility customers to easily have clean, renewable power credited on their monthly utility bills, without modifying their home or office,” according to an article in Mother Earth News.

We at EcoAction Partners applaud our local utility San Miguel Power Association for taking this step to help satisfy a local craving for renewables in a manner that allows almost anyone to participate. Come Friday to learn more about the program and how you can be part of a clean energy solution.

The second half of the EcoAction Roundtable features Jim Dyer, the Colorado lead for the National Farm to School movement. Don’t know about that? Well, come and find out, but as you might imagine the effort is to connect local producers – farmers, ranchers and others – directly to our school cafeterias. It’s a win-win situation when our youth learn where their food comes from, who is producing it, what is involved in producing it – and most of all – how delicious it is when fresh and nutritious school foods are practically “home grown.”

The vision of the National Farm to School movement is, “a nation in which Farm to School programs are an essential component of strong and just local and regional food systems, ensuring the health of all school children, farms, the environment, economy and communities. The movement is strong in Colorado with many programs up and running and an entire task force gathering momentum to spread the word.

Jim will tell us what Farm to School is all about, describe some of the projects going on, and outline some potential next steps to get things going here in our region. From Culinary Boot camps where school food service workers learn the basics of scratch cooking to supporting school gardens and greenhouses – there’s much to cheer about.

Here locally, I’m looking for volunteers to help dismantle a 26’ Growing Spaces growing dome greenhouse in Ridgway, transport it to the Telluride High School and put it back up. It’s a fantastic collaborative effort between the school, the Telluride Medical Foundation’s PEP grant, the Southwest Institute for Resilience and EcoAction Partners. We need many hands, starting Saturday and going at least through Monday. Any amount of time will help. Please call me, Kris, at 970-708-0289 if you are available. Year-round greenhouse production to help supplement the school lunch system. What a great fit!

So farms of a different type is the theme for Friday’s EcoAction Roundtable. We hope those in the area will join us. We ask folks to RSVP by phone (970-728-1340), email or Facebook – EcoAction Partners by Thursday afternoon to insure enough food. (Free breakfast is provided with donations greatly appreciated.)

If you’re not in the area – check out these websites for more information:, San Miguel Power Association –,  Clean Energy Collective – and National Farm to School – and Colorado Farm to School –

The next EcoAction Roundtable will be September 7th. Look for more information as the date gets closer. As always, we thank Telluride Inside… and Out for helping get the word out about sustainability in our region. Partnerships are key to a thriving future!

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