The Hillside neighborhood will soon have its own community food center with an income-generating urban farm, educational community farm, event space and more.
Colorado Springs Food Rescue announced its plan to build the “Hillside Hub” on a 3.5-acre parcel of land donated by the Legacy Institute. The property, located next to Relevant Word Ministries, will host a “community-operated space where neighbors grow, cook, learn about, access, and advocate for fresh food,” the statement says.
CSFR hopes to start building on the property, which it already owns, by summer or fall of next year, says Zac Chapman, the nonprofit’s executive director. Community cleanups will begin soon, but the goal is to have the first phase of the project, a four-season greenhouse, completed by the end of next year.
Chapman says the greenhouse will produce food for sale and for donation to some of CSFR’s no-cost grocery programs in underserved neighborhoods. Primary crops will be various lettuces, microgreens and herbs, he adds: Plenty of local farmers already produce heartier fruits and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and cantaloupes.
“We’ve determined that the real lack of things that are being grown, and that can be grown ethically in an urban regard, are specifically leafy greens,” Chapman says. “That’s the most viable…and nutrient-dense stuff that we’d be growing for wider commercial production off the bat.”
Most of CSFR’s educational programming is currently focused on youth, but Chapman hopes the new property will also accommodate community gardening workshops for adults.
This isn’t the first partnership between CSFR and Relevant Word. Past projects have included a no-cost grocery program and community garden. Chapman says the nonprofit’s history with Hillside goes back even further.
“We have residents on our board and we have staff members who have been engaged in this community for much longer than the organization itself,” Chapman says. CSFR chose to build a hub in Hillside for that reason — “in conjunction with the real large amount of opportunity within this neighborhood.”
Colorado Springs Food Rescue invites community members to a town hall Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m. at Relevant Word Ministries, 1040 S. Institute St., to discuss the new project.