Grow Your Own Meal and four other nonprofits making a difference locally
By Lisa Truesdale
After fleeing from New York City following 9/11, Marion Murphy was inspired to make a difference in the world. Once she landed in Boulder County, she knew it would be easier to do so in a small community rather than in a huge city.
She just wasn’t sure how to do it until she read journalist Michael Pollan’s now-famous essay from October 2008, asserting that if the U.S. didn’t make the reform of the entire food system a high priority, we would never be able to “make significant progress on the health care crisis, energy independence or climate change.”
Prompted by Pollan’s words, Murphy founded Grow Your Own Meal in 2010. Her nonprofit’s mission is to help Boulder County’s small farmers overcome the hardships they face because of the damage caused to our air, water and soil due to industrial farming practices, and recent challenges like supply-chain disruptions and inflation.
“We need to keep the soil viable,” says Murphy. “We don’t have that right now, and we have a lot of work to do to get it back.”
Grow Your Own Meal helps small farms with their marketing efforts and works to help farming policy move forward on county and state levels. Murphy is putting together a citizens’ advisory board specific to farming, “as a way for citizens to have a voice and to improve communication between business, government and community.”
“Food is the most fundamental need we have, besides water,” Murphy says. “If we don’t have those, we aren’t here.”
We are fortunate in Boulder County to have dozens of nonprofits working to help increase our access to fresh, healthy, affordable food. Read on to learn about four of those organizations, and visit growyourownmeal.org for more information about Grow Your Own Meal.
Co-founded by Boulder County restaurateur Kimbal Musk, Million Gardens Movement has the lofty goal of mobilizing a million people in North America to grow their own food. The nonprofit aims to “pave the way to a more resilient food system” by teaching people how to garden and by providing gardening kits to families in need.
For more than 20 years, Growing Gardens has been reconnecting people with their local food systems through community gardens at seven county locations. They offer cooking, gardening and nutrition classes for all ages, and donations of produce, plants, seeds and nutritious meals to low-income community members.
If you’re an avid home gardener who always has more fresh-grown produce than you can eat, check out Grow & Give. This program, created by -Colorado State University Extension to address food insecurity in the state, connects home gardeners with local organizations where they can safely donate their excess.
FED (Farm Eats Direct) connects local farmers to the community by purchasing surplus produce from local farms and serving nourishing organic meals out of the FED food truck. If there’s any food waste, it goes back to the farms to feed the animals. The truck, which can also be rented for private dinners, travels to different BoCo locations, with a menu that changes often based on the ingredients available. FED also held several recent “pay what you can” meals for those affected by the Marshall Fire, funded by contributions from local businesses and by financial donations from the community.