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From table to farm, how restaurants are helping local agriculture

Restore Colorado is a program that allows restaurants to support climate benefiting farming.
David Pitula and Debbie Seaford-Pitula, owners of the Longmont-based catering business, Whistling Boar| Courtesy photo

Restore Colorado is a way that locals can help tackle climate change by helping regional farms and ranches, according to the Boulder County website.

The program launched yesterday with 17 participants across the state that pledged their direct support of regional regenerative farming, including two Longmont businesses, Whistling Boar and GB Culinary, according to a press release. 

“Consumers contribute to the Restore Colorado fund a few cents at a time, through an optional 1% fee at participating restaurants and food businesses,” according to the Boulder County website. The money raised is then distributed to local farmers and ranchers, who invest in climate beneficial practices, through grants. 

Zero Foodprint and Mad Agriculture — nonprofits working to advance regenerative agricultural practices — have partnered with Boulder County, the city of Boulder and Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency to promote and distribute the collection of a 1% fee by businesses to close the loop of the food nutrient cycle, said Zachary Swank, business sustainability coordinator at Boulder County.

"That one percent goes into helping local farmers and ranchers across Colorado implement compost application and other regenerative agricultural practices, with technical expertise from Mad Agriculture,"  he said. .

Regenerative agriculture refers to farming that focuses on rebuilding the life of the soil, according to the Zero Foodprint website

Restore Colorado has been underway since Sep. 2020 but waited to launch this week in celebration of Earth Day, Apr. 22, Swank said.

Customers who visit participating restaurants or businesses and mention the program, Restore Colorado, on Earth Day will receive a coupon for a bag of A-1 Organics Eco-Gro Compost that can be redeemed at ACE Hardware stores, he said.

“Citizens want to take climate action and now they can directly fund climate beneficial farming in their own food system, which directly benefits local communities and creates tastier and more nutritious food,” stated Anthony Myint, Zero Foodprint co-founder and director of partnerships in a press release. "Restore Colorado is a chance to create a new normal that tackles climate change with healthy soil on local farms. This program is all about optimism and action."

Debbie Seaford-Pitula, owner of Longmont-based catering business Whistling Boar, said she and her husband, David Pitula, a Culinary Institute of America graduate, moved from New York City to Boulder County in 2016 in search of a more sustainable lifestyle. 

“Being in the food industry we see how much is taken and how much is wasted,” she said. “And we didn't want to be a part of that anymore.”

For the past five years, the couple worked at several food and catering companies that advertised a sustainability mindset but ultimately failed to deliver on their promises, she said, so the couple decided to start a business that could potentially set the standard and example. 

“My husband and I decided to come all the way out here to make a difference for ourselves and to make a difference beyond us, and that's what this (program) means to us,” she said. “We are not going to really be affected in our lifetimes but our children are going to find a tough time.”

The next 50 or 60 years will be crucial in fighting climate change to avoid a real problem with planting crops in depleted soils, she said. “It's a worldwide problem.”

As a member of the initiative, Whistling Boar is contributing 1% of all the business sales to fund a program that will support regenerative farming in Colorado.

“Zero Foodprint is making a huge impact by showing what is possible, how to make a difference and find out who is making a difference,” Seaford-Pitula said. “It helps bring it to light because people don't know what to do, everyone wants to help just don't know how.”

Participating contributions collected this year will go to farms across the state to support its regenerative practices, including McCauley Family Farm in Longmont, Swank said. 

Regenerative practices to be implemented include composting, planting perennials and cover crops, reducing how much soil is tilled — or turned over — and managing where the animals on the farm graze, according to the press release. 

Partners will continue to do a heavy push for the program this and next year to get it off the ground, grow participation and support more farms and agricultural projects moving forward, he said. 

“While we are launching this program primarily in partnership with Boulder County and (Boulder and Denver cities), we have had interest in it from other communities across the state and the program is in no way limited to the current participating geographies,” he said. “We are hoping that this is the start of a movement that grows across the state.”


Editor's note: 

The original article stated that the 1% collected by businesses through sales goes to Mad Agriculture. The correction states that the 1%percent goes into helping local farmers and ranchers with technical expertise from Mad Agriculture.

Silvia Romero Solís

About the Author: Silvia Romero Solís

Después de viajar por el mundo, Silvia llegó a establecerse en Longmont. Ella busca usar su experiencia en comunicaciones y cultura para crear más equidad y diversidad en las noticias de Longmont.
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