Thanksgiving Community Dinners in Aspen

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Thanksgiving Community Dinners in Aspen
Photo by Aspen Real Life

We want you all to know that every year there are Thanksgiving community dinners in Aspen that bring our community together. Snowmass Chapel already held one last week, but there are two coming up that you should not miss if you are in town:

Farm to Table Thanksgiving Community Meal at The Hotel Jerome. Hosted by Farm Collaborative Aspen. 5-8pm.

Tomorrow is Farm Collaborative Aspen’s annual Farm-to-Table FREE Community Thanksgiving Meal at the Hotel Jerome. At the Farm Collaborative they believe that by sharing a meal together we nourish our community, and when we join together at the ‘communal table’ and enjoy healthy locally grown food, we strengthen that which bonds us here in Aspen. Over the past 10 years the Community Meal has grown, truly becoming an Aspen tradition.

As an Ambassador of this meal I went down to Eden Vardy’s farm for a tour to be better able to speak about it to the guests dining at my tables tomorrow night. The farm operates out of Cozy Point Ranch.

Eden has spoken about sustainable agriculture at two of our Aspen Connect events, along with Brook LeVan of Sustainable Settings, Jerome Osentowski of CRMPI, and Woody Tasch of Slow Money, but I had never been to the farm. This visit was long overdue.

This year they have set a goal of purchasing 75% of the ingredients from beginning farmers in the Roaring Fork Valley (from within 35 miles of the venue) and the remaining 25% from local farmers beyond. The meal will have 3 seatings starting at 5pm, 6pm and 7pm. Pre-registration is necessary to secure a seat. Over 1,200 guests and an estimated 250 volunteers are expected to be there. The event is free for EVERYONE and brings together all segments of our community.

As Bija (Eden’s six year old son) collected eggs and spoke out his extremely perceptive observations, Eden spoke of how the farm began and where it has come since its inception. At the Farm Collaborative there is a “FarmPark” that has grown from 2/3 of 1 acre to 14 acres this past summer. People can visit anytime year round like a town park.

The Farm Collaborative also offers Earth Keepers day camp, started by John Denver, which is an inter-age mentorship program where kids are immersed in nature connection and presented practical Earth- based skills: from gardening to wild harvesting to milking goats to cooking with the sun. They also offer free use of their facility to schools/teachers, and they offer private programs and facility rental for events.

Farm Collaborative Aspen Facts

  • The Farm Collaborative is expanding. After locking in a 20 year lease with the city, they are raising funds to build:
    • an education and resource center to increase youth programming and better serve our schools. The center will have an integrated learning kitchen and farm stand.
    • an “alley crop” heritage orchard (already underway) and a “u-pick” farm
    • a farmer incubator (like a community garden, but at a production scale)
    • a tool library with implements for local farmers
    • a research facility to share the local and global impacts of regenerative and integrative food production (including carbon sequestration and community-building)
    • the creation of a network of Farm Collaboratives tied together globally through an “open-source franchise,” which is dedicated to sharing best practices in making food economies more localized.
    • They are 50% through our campaign, which is just short of $5m.
Farm Collaborative Aspen
Farm Collaborative Aspen is a network of farmers, teachers, students, and community members dedicated to reconnecting people with their food and to the place we all live, while encouraging a shift in how we view and understand food cultivation and the role of food in our lives.

Eden is the mastermind behind it all, spreading the important message of sustainable agriculture and living off of – not extracting from – the land. He showed us two of the gardens explaining how the newer garden grows twice as fast. At the farm they know how to take a problem and turn it into a solution; rather than allow horse manure from the horse pasture to flow into the river and cause zero zones, they built an infrastructure that stops the manure from flowing into the river and instead mixing it with soil to fertilize the plants.

Farm Collaborative Aspen Thanksgiving Community Meal Food Facts

  • Each ingredient is locally grown at farms that are very high integrity, down to the herbs. Over 75% is from within 35 miles.
  • The Farm Collaborative pays for the food to support local farmers, supporting the local food movement (which is great for our local economy and environment) to reduce and in some instances even sequester carbon (our industrial food system contributes to climate change, by some estimates it touches up to 50% of global emissions), and increases nutrient and flavor density substantially.
  • A few fun facts:
    • All potatoes in the meal were harvested by the potato digger we purchased as part of our tool library, which is available for all local farmers
    • Grain for the bread is grown at Shining Mountain Farms, the Farm Collaborative’s annex / partner facility in Emma
    • cinnamon in the dessert is harvested in Snowmass at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s old campus. Other herbs come from The Farm Collaborative’s tropical greenhouse in Aspen, which is also a learning center.
    • The meatloaf is from Mountain Primal Meat in Emma!
    • All food is from the Roaring Fork or North Fork Valley. over 75% (up 25% from last year) of ingredients are grown in within 35 miles
  • Lead sponsors this year are Local Coffee House, The Hotel Jerome, Alpine Bank, Aspen Daily News, and PSAV. Other sponsors include; Bethel Party Rentals, Shelley Summers, Juggernut bicycles, Dragonfly Jun. Table sponsors are listed on each table.
They still need servers!! *All volunteers are invited to enjoy a Meal at 4pm, prior to the start of our public event! Email Eden for more information: [email protected]

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Farm Collaborative Aspen
Grown from the seeds of a young, family-run nonprofit, today our roots are firmly planted, and we have begun to see the yields. Over the past decade, The Farm Collaborative formerly known as Aspen TREE has taught thousands of children where their food comes from and nurtured a culture of young environmental stewards who are dedicated to a better tomorrow.
Thanksgiving Community Dinners in Aspen
Photo by Jillian Livingston. Left to right: Nicola Siso, Jen Catto, Eden Vardy & Bija Vardy

Hickory House Thanksgiving Community Dinner Benefitting Public Schools with the Help of Aspen Education Foundation

AEF brings the community together annually at Flamingo, a benefit to fund extraordinary educational opportunities for every student. Money raised at Flamingo directly supports teacher and staff salaries and a wide range of academic and extracurricular programs. Over 50% of Aspen School District teachers give to AEF annually.

Aspen Education Foundation Live Auction Catalog

Get a head start on your bidding! Join Justin Leonard on the green; hockey in Las Vegas with Dave Clarkson; ride bikes, play singles tennis and ski with sports icons, rehearsal with SNL cast in NYC, or choose a fabulous vacation in support of our schools. Click HERE or download the catalogue. Also, stay tuned for the silent auction. Bidding will begin the night of the 30th.

If you are interested in any of these packages but won’t be at Flamingo (sold out) on November 30th, contact: [email protected].

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