Longmont YMCA neighbors now can find fresh, organic produce at affordable prices.
On Thursday, the Longmont Chamber of Commerce celebrated the opening of Growing Gardens’ farmstand at the Longmont YMCA. Growing Gardens Executive Director Vanessa Keeley said the new endeavor has been years in the making.
“Since the beginning, we have always been wanting to have a way for food to be available to the neighbors of the farm, to this really local community and to the broader Longmont community as well,” she said.
Growing Gardens has been serving Boulder County for about 25 years with a mission to connect people to each other, fresh healthy food and the land through sustainable farming practices.
They have had a food project farm in partnership with the YMCA for seven years, spreading nearly an acre around the facility. From that garden and for over the past six and a half growing seasons, Growing Gardens has donated over 60,000 pounds of fresh food to the Longmont community.
The newly opened farm stand will offer organically grown produce from that farm at a reduced rate — on Thursday fresh-looking kale, chard and turnips were selling for $2 a bunch while lettuce was $3 a bag and basil and parsley were $1 a bunch.
“It’s beautiful, organically grown produce and it’s subsidized by some of our donors to make sure we can keep the prices affordable, so that when people come to purchase it feels like something they can fit in their budget,” Keeley said. “Everyone deserves this great, beautiful, organic food.”
Removing barriers to access healthy and fresh food is a big part of Growing Gardens’ mission. Keeley emphasized that doing so in an ethical way can be expensive.
“It takes a lot to grow healthy food if you’re paying people a good wage, which we’re really trying to do as an organization,” Keeley said. “Historically, agriculture has been one of the lagging industries in terms of what workers get paid. Part of our mission is finding out how to tell people what healthy food costs and then also providing free food or reduced rate food when we can so that everyone can have access.”
In addition to the free and reduced rate food, Growing Gardens offers a variety of other programs like the Cultiva Youth Project, which provides youth a paid leadership program working on the farm. Growing Gardens also stewards community gardens across the county along with gardening classes and seed and seedling donations to make growing food at home more accessible.
The farm stand will be open 4-6 p.m. every Thursday now through September at the Longmont YMCA, 950 Lashley Street.