Colorado farmers hope to start a grocery co-op in one of Denver’s biggest food deserts

Reaching out is just a consensus…many farmers and ranchers are struggling to find a place where they can sell their produce at the price they need to cover production and living costs,” said Margaret S. McRoberts. “And there’s also just a lack of local food in Denver and other parts of our region.”

TheRocky Mountain Food Collaborationstarted a little over two years ago. Its board of directors includes Miller and other local Colorado ranchers and farmers who follow regenerative farming practices.

McRoberts, the project manager of Rocky Mountain Food Collaborative, said the organization wants to bring sustainable agricultural products to urban settings. Part of that mission includes creating a co-op grocery store located in the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood of Denver.

McRoberts and his colleague Alicia Boyd, special strategic adviser for the collaboration, said they chose the historically black neighborhood of Northeast Park Hill because it is one of the biggest food deserts in the city.

Alicia Boyd is the Special Strategic Advisor for the Rocky Mountain Food Collaborative.

Boyd knows a thing or two about the needs of Northeast Park Hill neighborhood residents, having lived in the area for more than three decades. She also knows agriculture: her son, Terrance, is a rancher who manages Wild Boyd Farm, a black-owned farm in Matheson, Colorado. Alicia Boyd explained how gentrification in northeast Park Hill over the years has not benefited longtime residents.

“You can’t visit or live in this neighborhood without knowing what’s going on there and what’s not there,” Boyd said, adding that his friends and neighbors had told him about the need for a place. where to buy food.

McRoberts and Boyd believe that a co-op filled with locally grown produce and meats will not only help create a healthier community in Park Hill, but will also foster a sense of pride. “Our idea is that we could have a neighborhood public market that we can just help get started, and then it could be owned by the community and provide economic opportunity, provide access to local food, and just really start to be a source of pride in the community,” McRoberts said.

In addition to the grocery store, McRoberts said the collaboration wanted to create a butcher counter and deli.

“You have to ask yourself, ‘Are you bringing value to this neighborhood, or are you just bringing your vision to this neighborhood?’ said Boyd. “We can go anywhere to start this market, but it’s a special neighborhood that we care about and are passionate about.”

Rocky Mountain Food Collaborative hopes to open a cooperative store in the Northeast Park Hill neighborhood by July 2023.

To help better understand the needs of Park Hill residents, the Rocky Mountain Food Collaborative invites residents to complete this investigation.

Lindsey Ford is a multimedia journalist at Rocky Mountain PBS. You can reach her at [email protected].

Luz W. German