A home for change

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Austyn Elizabeth Ford

Given the appearance of abundant affluence in Boulder County, people are surprised to learn that many residents here don’t have regular access to food. About 46,000 residents in Boulder and Broomfield counties don’t have enough to eat — 12% of them are children — and the pandemic has only exacerbated the issue.

Recognizing this problem, real estate agents Catherine and Andy Burgess of Burgess Group | Compass recently launched The Food Security Project, through which they grow fresh produce for the local community on the 80-acre McKenzie Farm near Boulder.

The real estate agents helped fund the program via a donation to the Community Food Share food bank (which also contributed funds to the project). Part of those funds were used to hire Katie Ketchum to manage the day-to-day farm operations on McKenzie Farm. There’s additional collaborative support from Boulder’s Boundless Landscapes, a Public Benefit Corporation that plans and builds micro-farms and is lending farm equipment; and the nonprofit Earth’s Table, which maintains seven garden sites, and is mentoring Ketchum through the process.

Through The Food Security Project, local people in need will have access to fresh produce grown on the farm from April through October. The list of crops includes snow and snap peas, collard greens, beans, peppers, cucumber, squash, kale and more.

The farm itself offers a unique space to run the program. It was founded in the late 1800s and has built-in farm infrastructure like a barn, a produce-cooling building and greenhouse, as well as senior water rights and access to Four Mile Canyon Creek. The farm’s namesake family still owns the property, as it has since 1893.

The larger hope of the program is that it encourages community members to do what they can to contribute money, food and time to combat local food insecurity. Boundless Landscapes, for instance, is running a vacation harvesting program, through which people can donate food grown on their property even if they’re away for large parts of the growing season.

Says Catherine Burgess, in a press release, “If everyone contributes what they can, we could make a huge difference in the fight to eliminate local and national pandemic hunger.”

Find out more about The Food Security Project at burgessgrouprealty.com/food-security-project.