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Where the sidewalk ends 

click to enlarge MATTHEW SCHNIPER

On a roughly 400-square-foot strip of earth in front of the Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission office downtown, the nonprofit Solidarity of Hope has planted one of its many community gardens. Currently growing are raspberries, strawberries, assorted gourmet herbs, spinach, radishes, beets, carrots, chives and a peach tree. Soon, tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans and onions will join the mix. All this ... 10 feet from parking meters and bustling traffic.

Solidarity of Hope founder Erik Running (pictured, right) formed the Woodland Park-based organization two years ago. His long-term goal is to encourage citizens of the Pikes Peak region to grow half their produce locally. "Our food travels an average of 1,300 miles," says the educator, with obvious disapproval.

Volunteers Larry Stebbins (left) and Charley Read (middle) help plant permaculture gardens as functional educational tools to establish a sustainable-agriculture mindset in the community. Collectively, the group wants people to realize that locally produced food can be healthier and less expensive, while making less of an impact on the environment.

Coloradans enjoy a growing season of up to eight months long enough that a family of four could grow half the vegetables it would need for the year on just a 20-by-20 square. Visit solidarityofhope.org to become a member or to learn more.

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