Food task force looking for production answers

Agriculture research focuses on food producers surveys

City of Cortezworkers discuss the plans to survey residents and businesses on healthy eating practices and food produced in the county. From left are Kate O’Brien with the health department, Kim Lindgren, LiveWell community food coordinator, Nina Williams with the agriculture roundtable, JoDee Powers, LiveWell Montezuma County coordinator, Kirsten Sackett, city planner and Tom Hooten with the Colorado State University extension office. Enlargephoto

Journal/Michael Maresh

City of Cortezworkers discuss the plans to survey residents and businesses on healthy eating practices and food produced in the county. From left are Kate O’Brien with the health department, Kim Lindgren, LiveWell community food coordinator, Nina Williams with the agriculture roundtable, JoDee Powers, LiveWell Montezuma County coordinator, Kirsten Sackett, city planner and Tom Hooten with the Colorado State University extension office.

Spearheaded by LiveWell Montezuma, a food task force is being developed to assess local foods produced in the county.

LiveWell Montezuma Coordinator JoDee Powers said some of the questions in the survey will focus on how easy it is to get fruits and vegetables in the surrounding community.

She said there will be a multitude of questions residents will be asked to answer and will also try to find food producers or farmers on what they expect.

The assessment is aimed toward finding the location of food producing farms, number of acres under production, crops produced including the amount and where sold, and barriers or potential for increased production, processing and distribution.

The local food system assessment will also demonstrate the needs for storage, aggregation, distribution and commercial infrastructure to meet local production and demand as well as ways to increase economic development through agricultural production, processing, distribution, marketing and sales.

The assessment will also address food security issues residents face, including economic access to fresh, healthy and local foods and residents’ interests on awareness, demand and barriers to consuming and selling their product.

Powers said the survey is focused on local foods that are produced in the surrounding area, whether that be lettuce, sprouts, spinach, eggs and any other food items produced in Montezuma and Dolores counties.

Powers said that once a good number of residents complete the survey a report will be written to detail the situation of local foods in the county and to gauge where farmers and producers are looking to sell their food items.

Powers said the next step is to hire an outside professional to get the surveys ready to go out to the residents.

She said both surveys — one for consumers and one for producers — will be launched May 15, and she anticipates that it would take about two months to hand the surveys out and receive them back to compile the results.

To entice residents to fill out the surveys, they will have the possibility of winning $100, Powers said.

She said they want to let people know that the input of both the producers and consumers is vital for the survey’s success.

“We are trying to figure out a lot of stuff,” she said and added the hope is to get at least 1,000 surveys back from residents.

Powers said the food task force has created 100 posters and are spinning them off from the Uncle Sam posters’ message of “We want you.”

“We want you to fill out the survey,” she said, adding the task force is still looking at mechanisms to determine what could work the best and mentioned one idea is to hand out the surveys in the most populated parking lots in the counties.

For more information, email Powers at lwmontezuma@gmail.com.

Michael Maresh can be reached at michaelm@cortezjournal.com