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When it comes to food justice and accessibility, 25-year old Dana Guber is a veteran volunteer. As a middle school student she volunteered alongside her mother and grandmother at Boulder’s Meals on Wheels. She helped start a student-run farm during college. Now she works as program coordinator for Fort Collins’s Meals on Wheels and volunteers as a member of The Growing Project’s board of directors.
Once FoCo Café opens its doors, Guber has her sights set on helping the Café meet its mission to use local, organic, and sustainably grown ingredients through The Growing Project’s Food Finders initiative, a program she co-founded with other local food activists and helps coordinates.
“I work with 10 volunteers that go to gardens, farms and grocers by bicycle to pick up food that would otherwise be composted or thrown away,” Guber says. “Then we deliver that food to local nonprofits that feed the hungry, such as The Food Bank of Larimer County, Catholic Charities, and The Matthew’s House. Eventually I want FoCo Café to become a recipient. We’re really excited for them to be open so we can help them.”
Guber originally learned about FoCo Café and met Jeff and Kathleen through The Growing Project. “I support them endlessly,” Guber says, whether coming to events, donating equipment and supplies to the Café—through Meals on Wheels she was able to pass on 200 boxes of high quality olive oil—or making the Café a beneficiary of Food Finders.
In return, the Café supports Guber’s personal mission to increase food accessibility. “It doesn’t matter where you come from or how much money you make,” she says. “You can go there and hang out and have delicious food you don’t cook yourself. I think that’s inspiring to a lot of people who don’t normally have access to cooking that sort of food.”
She also hopes that in addition to feeding people, the Café will become a hub for food justice. “I’d like to see the space be open to the community or free or donation-based classes, where meetings can take place, and where anyone can learn how to grow and prepare their own food,” Guber says.
In the meantime, Guber’s working days and free time are dedicated to “putting good food in everyone’s mouth.” FoCo Café, through Food Finders, is one more way to make that happen. “That’s really where I hope we can help them,” she says. “I want to get them as much good food as possible.”
To learn more about Food Finders, The Growing Project, or Meals on Wheels, contact Dana Guber at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Spring Kite Farm owners and partners, Meghan Williams and Michael Baute, have plenty to be excited about. 2013 marks the second year of their successful CSA, July rains have encouraged abundant vegetable production, their turkeys are gobbling up unwanted grasshoppers, and, on Sunday, July 21, their farm will welcome more than 200 people to the first-annual Bike-In Music Festival, benefiting the FoCo Cafe.
As Meghan Williams sat in the audience at the TEDx CSU event this past winter listening to Kathleen Baumgardner speak about her new social venture, the FoCo Cafe, she became determined to help any way she could. The Cafe’s inherent values—social justice and equity through healthy food—align with the values of Meghan and Michael’s organic, urban farm business. Meghan introduced herself to Kathleen after the event, telling her how much the vision and goals of the Cafe meant to her, and the two set out to organize a fundraiser for the FoCo Cafe at Spring Kite Farm.
As a Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA, program within the Fort Collins city-limits, Spring Kite Farm promotes active, healthy lifestyles and clean, organic and biodynamic produce. The farm’s CSA program appeals to many bicycle enthusiasts, partly due to its location just off the Spring Creek Trail. This is even reflected in the names Meghan and Michael gave the two sizes of its CSA shares: “Bike Trailer” and “Bike Basket.” So, it seemed a logical fit to have the fundraiser a “bike-in” only event.
“We’re so excited for the festival to raise awareness about FoCo Cafe and how our entire community can join efforts to make this dream a reality,” Meghan says.
Guests of Sunday’s event will get a first-hand look at how Meghan and Michael are slowly and deliberately building a resilient food production system, from the small flock of pasture-raised chickens to rows of succulent tomatoes interlaced with marigold.
Although Spring Kite is not USDA certified Organic, absolutely no synthetic fertilizers or chemicals are used. Michael says that in 2012 the farm didn’t even use organic pesticides. “Instead, we use cultural practices, crop rotation, biological control, and inter-planting to reduce crop losses from disease and pest pressures,” he says.
Through the proper pasturing of chickens, turkey, and a neighbor’s alpaca herd, much of the nutrient needs for Spring Kite are produced on site and continuously improve soil health. The pastured poultry help keep insects and other pests in check and reduce weed pressure to minimum. New this season, Spring Kite is working with researchers at Colorado State University to begin production of additional nitrogen on the farm using cyanobacteria. “Our goal is to create a closed-loop system,” Michael says.
Spring Kite Farm was part of a historic homestead in the 1890s and was farmed by the Mead family from the 1970s until just a few years ago. In early 2012, after months of seeking the perfect land, Meghan and Michael connected with the Mead family to lease their five-acre farm on South Taft Hill Road.
“The land is the perfect fit for us,” Meghan says, “and we hope to be the perfect fit for the land.”
Together, Meghan and Michael have over 7 years of experience growing organic and biodynamic vegetables on the Front Range. This last year they used their combined experience and passion to help form a new group, the Young Farmers on the Front Range, which will be managing the 2013-14 Winter Farmers Market at the Opera Galleria. The group is a coalition of young (<35) farmers and ranchers who are stepping up to evolve the local food system through policy, commerce, and advocacy work. In the meantime, Meghan and Michael put in long hours each day lovingly growing food for CSA members, market customers, and restauranteurs. You can meet Meghan and Michael at the Old Town Farmers Market every Saturday, or join us Sunday at the Bike-In Music Festival. Visit their website, www.springkitefarm.com, to learn more about CSA shares and upcoming events, including a fermentation workshop with Ursula Holmes on August 22, and a farm dinner with Jax Fish House and Oyster Bar in September.
Hey volunteers! We need you for FoCo Cafe’s next event on July 21 – FoCo Cafe’s Bike-In Music Festival at Spring Kite Farm (Include link o event info). If you are interested in volunteering please submit info about your availability and we’ll match you with a job!
Click here to volunteer!
Bike-in for great music, food, and beer on beautiful Spring Kite Farm. Experience the best of Fort Collins in one Sunday afternoon! Gates open at 2:30pm, music begins at 3:00pm and the event will take place Sunday, July 21, rain or shine! Only 200 tickets will be sold, so this will be an intimate experience!
3:00 Grateful Dead Cover Band Switchman Sleepin’
4:30 Grammy-nominated Maxwell Hughes (formerly of The Lumineers)
6:00 High Energy Blue Grama Bluegrass
Thanks to our wonderful sponsors who value comunity events and live music:
A self-pronounced “Bug Geek,” Jenni Sorrentino has always had a fascination with microbes, viruses and bacteria. It’s no wonder that this interest has guided her through her educational and professional paths of biology and environmental health. After receiving her undergrad degree in biology, Jenni initially thought that her love for animals and biological processes would be best pursued in veterinary medicine, however, she soon realized that the operating room was not for her and that’s when she moved to Fort Collins, from Texas, to pursue her master’s degree in environmental health at CSU. This experience, combined with her experience working as an environmental health consultant, along with her food safety certification, have allowed her to be an essential asset to the FoCo Cafe team.
We have Facebook to thank for sending Jenni in the direction of the FoCo Cafe. She describes reading a suggested page on Facebook one day, and happening upon our page. Seeing that we are ALWAYS LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEERS to help in any way they can, she jumped on board! Interestingly enough, Jenni had previously envisioned opening her own similar cafe years before, but she never believed it to be possible. So when she saw that it is happening, she wanted to be a part of it! She aims to help the FoCo Cafe in many ways, by assisting the cafe in standard operating procedures in food maintenance and handling, food safety training for volunteers, as well as writing training programs.
Jenni’s passion for non-profit work started when she was a child volunteering in food kitchens. She witnessed firsthand how difficult it was to see people go hungry, and she wanted to help combat hunger. Along with helping the FoCo Cafe, Jenni also works closely with the Fort Collins Food Rescue. In addition, she dreams to someday open up her own commissary kitchen where community members can come make food from local sources.
The importance of sitting down and enjoying a healthy and delicious meal is a highly valued event to Jenni. She says, “I always want to have dinner with the kids and my husband. There is no other time available through out the busy day where you have everyone’s undivided attention, it’s only when you sit down and eat together.” The conversation tends to be especially good when Jenni’s family enjoys her husband’s spaghetti and Italian sausage, she says it’s the best meal she knows!
When asked to provide a metaphor for the FoCo Cafe, Jenni responded, “It’s a big, round table with many different kinds of chairs around it.” A poignant picture, there’s no beginning or end to the table, no head for any one person to sit at to insinuate higher importance over anyone else at the table. Everyone comes to the table at the FoCo Cafe as equals, with their personalized chair (aka. history/background), which is what makes the Cafe such an essential community-builder/strengthener to the Fort Collins community.
The MayDay! MayDay! event was incredibly successful! Thanks to all who came out in the snow and packed the house! Special thanks to the staff at Odell Brewing Company for serving their tasty brews, Chefs Anthony and Marty and their wonderful crew serving food and donating ALL the proceeds, Switchman Sleepin’ for a great night of Grateful Dead tunes, Starbucks for generously providing alternative beverages, Project Something Good for making us smile with their mobile chalkboard, and all the dedicated volunteers who helped make the night spectacular! You can also find these photos on Facebook where you are welcome to share and tag.
Anthony & Carmen Cisneros Marty Tjelmeland
Walking into Sanford’s Grub and Pub, I found Marty Tjelmeland and Anthony Cisneros among friends in their regular after-work hang out, enjoying some good conversation, libations and food. Warm handshakes, smiles and fun attitudes abounded during my short encounter with them. After sitting down and chatting for just a short hour, it was evident to me that these two men live to give and perhaps give to live. The following blog post is a snapshot of these two important volunteers who catered the FoCo Cafe’s MAYDAY! event at O’dell Brewing Company. All of the profits earned from catering the event were donated to FoCo Cafe. And after reading the interview that follows, you’ll understand why it’s not surprising that they did this.
Marty, the main chef for CSU’s Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority as well as a scuba instructor at High Plains Scuba, has had a passion for cooking his whole life. After working in construction for 16 years, he decided to make his dream of becoming a chef a reality. Anthony, a financial advisor, summed up his impressive career background in less than 30 seconds: “attorney, business owner, financial advisor.” But well beyond their professional interests, it’s their philanthropic interests that really capture who they are as people. “Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Anthony stated. His philosophy is that if everyone could take one of their talents and do some good, we could do wonders in the world. “Cooking is the way we’ve found to sustainably and continuously give back to our community,” Anthony adds. Marty follows with emphasizing the importance of giving while expecting nothing in return. They have both found that once you start to give, it becomes addictive…you just want to give more!
Marty met Jeff, one of FoCo Cafe’s founders. at a charity event for another nonprofit in town about a year ago. Marty and Anthony were catering an event for Hand Up Cooperative, when Jeff introduced himself and described the FoCo Cafe’s vision and mission. A year and a generous dishwasher donation later (from Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority), Marty, Anthony and the volunteers of the FoCo Cafe have formed a common bond in providing healthy and delicious food to all in our community.
Anthony and Marty have been catering non-profit charity events for a long time. Anthony and his wife, Carmen, philanthropists at heart, were searching for a way to give back to the community (among the many other charities they give to) and decided that they loved cooking, and would therefore invest in food preparation equipment in order to cater charity events. It wasn’t long before Marty joined forces with them, along with countless unnamed volunteers who assist with food and equipment preparation behind the scenes. Within the first two years of purchasing the equipment, they catered 17 events and consequently donated over $100,000 to different charities along the Front Range!
They are two very inspired people, spreading the message of giving to all they meet. Case in point, as I was interviewing them at Sanford’s Grub and Pub, one of the managers, Aiden, stopped to chat. Within 2 minutes, Marty had Aiden committing to donating food and labor to the MayDay! event! There was no hesitation, just an overwhelming urge to give – it is contagious!
Before I ended my conversation with Anthony and Marty, I had one truly important question to ask them in the spirit of the FoCo Cafe – what was their favorite food to eat? Both responded at the same time, “Anthony’s Steak and Chicken Fajitas.” Which is what they prepared for the MAYDAY! event hosted by O’dell Brewing Company, what a treat!
Marty and Anthony will be the first to tell you that food has the power to bring people together, and it’s truly evidenced in their dedication to assist nonprofits all over the Front Range with their cooking.
Note to readers: Marty also informed me that Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority contributes to a charity very worthy of mention. Tremendous Hearts is an organization that assists orphaned children whose parents have fallen victim to the AIDS epidemic in South Africa.
Liz Fabics is one busy woman! Not only is she a Master’s student in Social Work at Colorado State University, but she’s also an intern for the FoCo Cafe. With her leadership, persistence, and passion for food justice, the FoCo Cafe has come a long way in only a year’s time. The following is a quick interview with this incredibly ingenious intern, Liz Fabics!
We’d like to learn a bit about you before delving into your work with the Cafe. Can you tell me about your background (i.e., work, education, hobbies ,etc.)?
Well, I just moved out to Fort Collins upon receiving my bachelor’s degree in social work last May from Rutgers University in New Jersey. There, I was managing a bagel and sandwich shop in New Brunswick, as well as interning with Rutgers Against Hunger, a University organization working to alleviate hunger in New Jersey. I love skiing, hiking, painting, and going to see live music.
Briefly describe how you learned about and then became associated with the FoCo Cafe.
I became involved in the Cafe due to pure fate. The Director of Field Education for CSU’s Graduate School of Social Work, Sue Tungate, met Kathleen and Jeff at a fundraiser for Hand Up Cooperative and spoke to them about the possibility of an intern from the program. Sue and I had discussed other internship opportunities but when she made the connection with FoCo Cafe, I was ecstatic. I have dreamed of starting a social enterprise to alleviate hunger for many years and having the opportunity to watch it happen has been a wonderful learning experience.
What were your goals or vision upon joining the FoCo team?
Initially, I wished to see the Cafe open before the end of my internship and see every part of the process unfold. I have had the opportunity to be a part of so much of the extensive process, learning so much from city officials, the health department, and all of the beautiful people I have had the pleasure of meeting with over the past several months.
What drives you to volunteer your time and effort into making this vision become a reality?
I really want to see the FoCo Cafe open it’s doors, not only to serve our wonderful community in Fort Collins, but to be a model for other communities seeking to start a pay-what-you-can-afford concept. The vision for FoCo Cafe will be a reality because the community is driving it forward.
Are there any important influences in your life that have pointed you to the direction of the Cafe.
Ever since my freshman year of college at Johnson & Wales in Providence, RI, where I was studying Restaurant & Hospitality Management, I knew I wanted more than to own just a standard restaurant. After a few social work classes and landing an internship with Rutgers Against Hunger, I learned about social enterprises and, in particular, the SouperVan. The SouperVan is a greaseless food truck, started by Rutgers grads Nik Kubian, Dominick Rodriguez, and Paul Deveral. Their mission is to alleviate hunger one bowl at a time, donating a meal to Elijah’s Promise soup kitchen for each meal purchased, all while using local, sustainably grown ingredients. Those guys were only a few years older than me and if they could start a socially conscious food truck, so could I.
What’s been the biggest challenge in your role in interning on the Cafe?
The biggest challenge, or greatest experience, in interning with the Cafe is that it has been very self-directed. I do not go to an office, clock in and have a definitive start or end time to my day. Instead, I set and take meetings in coffee shops across town and get to meet passionate people that want to utilize their time and talents to get involved with the Cafe. Doesn’t sound that challenging?
What’s been the most positively surprising thing in regards to the Cafe?
Having only moved to Fort Collins about a year ago, the most positive surprise with regard to the Cafe is the immense community support we have received. The FoCo Cafe community has grown from a small circle to a much larger one over the short course of time I have been working with the project. The amount of community members willing to donate their time, talent, material goods, or monetary support has been overwhelmingly awesome for this Jersey girl.
I hear you’re going to be finishing your Master’s Degree soon. What are your plans for the future? Will you still be around or are you heading off to the big unknown?
I will be receiving my Masters of Social Work next month. I’m still on a job hunt but I am definitely hoping to stick around Fort Collins. I don’t think I could find a better place to live out my twenties – and beyond. Even if I take a hiatus to farm in Costa Rica, Fort Collins is my new home!
What’s your favorite food/dish?
My favorite food is potato leek soup; but I eat a spinach salad nearly every day so I guess you could say that’s a favorite as well.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work so closely with Kathleen and Jeff and all of the FoCo Cafe volunteers and supporters. I have learned so much and had such a diverse range of experiences through the process – from petting my first cow to grant writing and so much in between. I can’t put into words how much this opportunity has meant to me and in fulfilling my future dreams and goals.