Rocky Mountain High Plains Food Collaborative
Who are we?
We want to make buying local and regenerative the standard! The Rocky Mountain High Plains Food Chain Collaborative is a group of ranchers, farmers, food hubs, food assistance providers, value chain coordinators, and service providers throughout the Rocky Mountain and High Plains regions working to develop a member owned cooperative to aggregate and distribute products from small to medium size producers. We are a diverse group with these mutual values in common:
- Strengthening Agricultural Communities
- Social & Racial Equity
- Fair Price for Producers
- Regenerative Agriculture, Sustainable Operations & Climate Change
- Sharing our Message & Providing Education across the Food System
We understand many of these values are only ‘buzz’ words unless they have clear guidelines with verification capacity. Therefore, we are working on defining these values and creating guidelines for current and future members. At the same time, we are developing a transitional membership category and support system to help any future interested members achieve our values through technical assistance and peer support while still being inclusive from the start.
Why is this important?
Self-Reliance: COVID has clearly illustrated the fragile nature of global commerce and the tenuous nature of long supply chains. Our planet is becoming increasingly insecure from fluctuating seasons to increased disease to droughts and wildfires. To build self-reliance and ensure future generations have access to quality, nutritious produce, meat and dairy we need to develop a strong regional food system.
Reducing our Carbon Footprint: The Transportation Sector is the number one greenhouse gas emitter in Colorado, and this calculation doesn’t include emissions from a product’s origin to its entry across our Colorado borders. Regenerative grazing and farming practices coupled with reduced water and energy use is a solution to climate change by increasing biodiversity, reducing transportation and operation emissions and restoring our land’s ability to sequester carbon and retain water.
You are What you Eat: Over the last two generations, Americans have lost touch with the way their buying choices affect farmers and ranchers. The average American has no idea what a brussel sprout plant looks like or in what season local apples are ripe. Our grocery store shelves look the same from state to state and season to season. This increased accessibility and year around access, has brought with it a decline in nutrition, taste and a reliance on global commodities. Have you tasted the difference between a carrot harvested by your neighbor? Have you eaten a ripe peach standing in the field where it was grown. If you have you, you know immediately why this project is important.
What is the Collaborative?
The Collaborative is our answer to protecting and revitalizing a diminishing local food system while providing producers with a fair price, allowing buyers to purchase local with ease and reconnecting consumers with how and by whom their food is grow.
We believe that when numerous small to medium size producers, aggregators and service providers join forces we will be able to build the scale, consistency and quality needed to compete in today’s industrial based marketplace while providing a market based incentive for medium to large scale producers to shift towards a more local and sustainable focus.
We believe relationships must be founded on trust and we aim to embody a time in which producers sat with buyers over a cup of coffee and when consumers were next door neighbors to those producing their food.
We believe agricultural communities should be cornerstones in our society and we intend to provide agricultural communities the economic foundation they need to build thriving communities while protecting our environment by reducing resource use and employing climate change mitigation strategies.
A PRODUCER AND AGGREGATOR OWNED aggregation, distribution and marketing network providing buyers with a ONE STOP SHOP for purchasing local, regeneratively grown products.
KNOWLEDGE SHARING & TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE CENTER to assist producers, consumers and buyers. Guided and informed by the needs of producers while sharing the Collaborative story with consumers and buyers.
Cooperatives are the best way to include every members’ voice, and for each member owner to take part in guiding the ship. We are currently working on developing membership categories and look forward to having these defined in the near future.
Our Project Timeline
NOVEMBER 5-6, 2021 in SALIDA: Two Day In-Person Workshop – please join us to further develop the business model and operational structure of the Rocky Mt. High Plains Food Collaborative. Registration details to follow.
DECEMBER 2021: Start up the Collaborative, hire staff and begin operating for the 2022 season!
Our Team Partners, Collaborators and Supporters
The Collaborative is a project managed through the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s Cooperative Center with Stella Sustainability as project manager, and through generous funding received by the Gates Family Foundation. Our team consists of ranchers, farmers, food hubs, food assistance providers, value chain coordinators and service producers from across Colorado, Northern New Mexico, Southern Wyoming, Eastern Utah, and Western Kansas.