Valley Roots Food Hub continues to spotlight local producers
Tours of SLV farms and dining experiences set for Sept.
MOSCA — Valley Roots Food Hub is an organization that noticed the disconnect between the agriculturally rich San Luis Valley and the local population which had limited access to the food grown here.
Markets Manager Al Stone said, “(People) have no access to what's grown here."
In 2014, according to Stone, the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, along with several other groups, asked the same questions — How do we go from farm to table and farm to school? How do we get fresh local food to the people in the community?
Sheldon Rockey of White Rock Specialties, a potato company in Mosca, donated space in his warehouse — formerly the Sangre de Cristo School — and from there, the Valley Roots Food Hub was formed, Stone explained.
Nick Chambers has been the general manager ever since. Rockey is one of the main suppliers of potatoes and quinoa. Stone has worked there since 2019.
Valley Roots Food Hub operates throughout Colorado and is under the umbrella of the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition. The South Central area is based in Mosca. It is the link between farmers and the community, by buying, marketing, and distributing local produce, eggs, meat, cheese, dry goods like beans and grains, and oils and selling wholesale to grocery stores, restaurants, schools, colleges, food banks, caterers, buying clubs, and directly to the community through the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program.
Stone said, "People can pick up local food in Alamosa, Crestone, Del Norte, Salida, and Leadville."
Valley Roots Food Hub also delivers to Walsenburg, Trinidad, Pueblo, Durango, Pagosa Springs, and Canon City. TapRoot is the companion group that services Denver, and Colorado Springs. The organization is for profit. It does not run on donations.
Stone said the COVID-19 pandemic impacted Valley Roots Food Hub. During the pandemic, although restaurants were closed, there was a huge increase in calls from independent grocers, people at home, CSAs and food banks who received grant money to buy local food.
Stone said this is continuing to this day, with help from grants like the Local Food Purchasing Agreement Grant. Restaurants have reopened but people have an increased interest in buying local and investing in their health and community.
Local schools benefit from the Valley Roots Food Hub. Stone said, “South Conejos, North Conejos, Alamosa, Sangre de Cristo, and Creede school districts buy from us regularly during the school year...Prop. FF passed (healthy school meals for all public school students),” giving more children the opportunity to benefit from fresh, local food.
Valley Roots Food Hub has several upcoming events. They are offering two farm tours, giving people a chance to see where their food comes from and to support local producers — Aug. 21 and Sept. 29.
On Sept. 29, the tour is focusing on the "West Valley". People can learn how sausage is made at Gosar Sausage, visit the Frontier Trout Farm and Mountain Mama Flours, all in Monte Vista, Rockey Farms in Center and the Laz Ewe 2 Bar Goat Dairy in Del Norte. The event is Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets are $20.
A special event is set for Sept. 1-2 at the Dune Valley Distillery in Mosca. A five-course meal with locally sourced food will be prepared by chef Steven Rodriguez with the catering company Boriqua of Breckenridge. There will be three options — dinner on Sept. 1 or dinner or lunch on Sept. 2. For more information, visit www.valleyrootsfoodhub.com.