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Focusing on Adults 50+ in Mesa, Delta, Montrose and Garfield Counties

Live the green life: Reduce your carbon footprint

Apr 23, 2012, noon
Homesteaders Alison Gannet and Jason Trimm. Photo by Helen Richardson of the Denver Post.

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Breakfast at the farm - homemade everything - Crab apple butter, peach jam, Northern spy applesauce, Rome applesauce, homemade butter, farm fresh eggs.

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Alison in the farm root cellar with some of her canned goods and 14 kinds of potatoes.

By Betty Lundgren

Paonia resident Alison Gannett is a world champion extreme skier and climate change consultant. She has created her four-step C.R.O.P. program (Calculate, Reduce, Offset and Produce Clean Power) to help address global climate change and encourages everyone to join in the program.

The first step is to measure your own carbon footprint via a simple on-line measurement program like the one found at www.carbonfootprint.com then systematically find ways to reduce your carbon emission impact on our planet.

Though she thought she was living a “green” lifestyle, Gannett found that her every day food decisions greatly affected her carbon emission footprint.

“In my own case, I found that when I got to looking at my food choices, that’s where things got alarming,” Gannett said.

One effortless choice is to consciously purchase food that is fresh and not highly packaged. The next option is to purchase your food from local farmers and ranchers, even though it may seem more expensive at first.

“If you’re used to purchasing food at a discount outlet or chain store because the food is cheaper, you don’t really know the true carbon cost of that head of lettuce when you factor in all the petroleum that was used for fertilizers, pesticides and transporting it to your table,” Gannett said.

The best decision according to Gannett is to grow or raise your own food for the majority of your consumption. The benefit is that your food is probably healthier (since you know what was used to grow it), and can cost you less.

Gannett explained that with only a 10’ x 10’ plot, most people can grow about $1,000 worth of food that is basically free. If you don’t have that much space to devote to a garden, or if you live in an apartment, she recommends getting an Earthbox container gardening system available at several local garden supply stores or online at www.earthbox.com.

Go a step further for year-round gardening and build your own straw bale cold-frame garden. The process is simple. Arrange four to six straw bales (depending upon the size of the cold frame you desire) over a mat of flattened corrugated cardboard. This layer keeps grass and weeds from coming up through the bottom. On top of that, put down your own homemade compost or several large bags of compost from your local garden center. As a removable cover, use recycled glass doors or windows that are still in the frame. They are easy to lift up to water and tend the plants as well as to give the plants air when temperatures rise above 45 degrees.

Gordie and Cheryl Gibson, the Montrose couple who took the first steps in Gannett’s C.R.O.P. program, decided they are going to build a garden in their back yard so they can grow vegetables and greens year-round.

If you have the space, raising your own livestock is another way to lessen the carbon emissions created by your food consumption. Raising rabbits or raising goats for meat, milk and cheese, are becoming more popular. Bee keeping for honey is also on the rise. These homestead skills appear to be making resurgence in the 21st century possibly because of food processing and health concerns or just from a matter of economics in tough times.

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