Telluride Grown is on Town Council’s agenda, 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, June 4. Come and support the initiative.

Telluride Grown, led by Telluride's own Kris Holstrom and Steve Cieciuch, is a plan to bring an aquaponics-powered greenhouse to Telluride.

Telluride Grown, led by Telluride’s own Kris Holstrom and Steve Cieciuch, is a plan to bring an aquaponics-powered greenhouse to Telluride.

By now you’ve read Susan Viebrocks review of Mountainfilm 2013 happenings, but we want to report on things from our perspective too.

Inspired by Mountainfilm and informed by the good folks at Growing Power in Milwaukee, Steve Cieciuch came to me last fall with the passionate desire to create something meaningful for our community. That’s when Steve also discovered the wonders of aquaponics, a system of growing fish and produce that makes sense in a climatically challenged world. Steve learned at a conference and subsequent workshop that aquaponics is a nearly closed-loop food producing system that uses 70% less water and 30% less fossil fuel energy than conventional agricultural practices. Telluride Grown was born.

In aquaponics, fish such as tilapia, yellow perch and striped bass are raised for an annual harvest, and produce, everything from salad greens to tomatoes, is raised for a steady year-round supply. Just raising the fish  – aquaculture  – works, but creates a fish waste/pollution problem including ammonia-laden waters. Raising plants in water alone – hydroponics – requires the addition of synthetic chemicals that can also make it into our waterways in unhealthy amounts. Aquaponics is an ideal growing system. Here’s how it works.

Water from the fish tanks is pumped up into the growing beds where beneficial bacteria convert the ammonia into nitrate – a usable form of nitrogen that plants must have to thrive. The water is purified by the plants over the course of the growing beds, returning to the fish tank nice and clean. Telluride Grown aims to bring this sweet system to Telluride by constructing aquaponic greenhouses as the central part of a high-altitude, urban farm.

Aquaponics demonstration unit featuring vertical growing system

Aquaponics demonstration unit featuring vertical growing system

So what were we doing at Mountainfilm? We set up three different demonstration systems to grab people’s attention prompting conversations about the concept and future plans. Locally registered voters were asked to sign a request for Telluride Town Council to address the zoning of a particular piece of town property that, if approved, would be the ideal spot for Telluride Grown. We also wanted to see what people thought of the idea in general.. Does having food produced organically with a very low carbon footprint almost in your own backyard make sense ? Even at nearly 9000’? We were also looking for support for the fundraising campaign on (“in our back yard”) in collaboration with EcoAction Partners that looks to fund projects such as our demonstration units.

What an amazing weekend! We talked to hundreds and hundreds of people, got lots of signatures and really raised some awareness in a unique fashion about local food and the challenges of eating well and locally at altitude. Our campaign continues – and our quest to get a work-session with Town Council has been successful! Telluride Grown is on the agenda for 11:00 a.m. this coming Tuesday, June 4. If you’re here, please come to Rebekah Hall in town to voice your opinion. We think this location rocks, but we’d like the town’s voters to let us know if they agree.

Next steps?

Mountainfilm truly inspired this project and continues to call us to action. So the plan of action for Telluride Grown is to first garner enough support to put the re-zoning of the preferred location on the ballot for a vote this fall. If, as we believe, the majority of folks come to understand the positive aspects of this project and vote “yes” on the re-zoning, we will move forward with a more detailed design that meets all the Town of Telluride requirements. Telluride Grown’s non-profit status will be finalized and fundraising for the construction of the project will begin in earnest.

The excitement and obvious interest people showed in our initiative has further fed our passion. Telluride Grown – a growing project – In our own backyard.

Just imagine….

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.