Bringing Local Foods to Mountain Peaks

While on a camping trip to Yellowstone National Park, Louise Barton realized the food she was eating was not very tasty nor healthy. When she came home she and her friend Jane Barden, did something about that. You’re watching the local news network brought to you by Tile Art and Light Art of Durango and San Juan Basin Health. In the fall of 2020, Barden and Barton began to lay the groundwork for a new business that combined their passions for backpacking and hiking, with sustainability and the environment, by developing a line of dehydrated foods. And the best part? All the food is sourced from local farms from food that might otherwise go to waste.

So, Farm to Summit came about, Louise is a research ecologist so she has done a lot of camping, backpacking, with her field research. And through that, there was a specific trip, she was in Yellowstone, it was a long stint and afterwards she came to me and said, you know, there’s a real lack of good quality, good tasting backpacking meals. And so we thought that this is a really great idea. Meanwhile, I have kind of a background and my parents are farmers in Michigan. And I have a few friends in town here in Durango that are farmers. And so, recognize that there’s a lot of waste with that. So, we kind of took our two ideas and built on them. And one thing led to another and we thought, okay, well, how about we could dehydrate our own meals. We’re both avid outdoor enthusiasts. So, let’s dehydrate our own meals. And let’s not only use locally sourced produce, but have a huge emphasis on imperfect produce and kind of upcycling that waste.

After observing what kinds of food go to waste on farms, shape and size imperfections, Barton and Barden began to brainstorm ideas and recipes.

Well, we’re able to use a lot of different types of produce. But there are certain things that we kind of have to say no to. And that kind of brings us to our recipes. When we were first starting out, we started creating recipes based off the produce that was available to us. For example, carrots. There are a ton of carrots being grown in this area. And they’re all so delicious, but you know, so many times they’re crooked or maybe too small, too big. And those are all tossed aside, or maybe not tossed aside, but given to the food banks or given to livestock, and sometimes the food bank. How many carrots do you really need? So, it’s perfect for us and that’s what we could get our hands on. So, we have a lot of carrots in our recipes. There’s a, we send out a list of produce to our farmers and they kind of let us know what they have and what we can do together.

So when we started this we knew we had to have a green chili mac and cheese. That’s something that we can’t really resist on a menu. So, we made sure to create that. And of course, it’s top seller. People love it. We love it. Another one is the Thai curry. So, we have a red Thai curry that we make year round. And then we have a fall harvest curry that we make just seasonally with a bunch of fall squash. And those are definitely a crowd-pleaser, yeah. They’re super loaded with veggies, super hardy. Really nice, yeah.

During last winter Barden and Barton perfected their recipes, figuring out packaging, labels, and other necessary logistics, in time to launch with the start of the Durango’s Farmers Market in May.

Yeah, right now the Saturday farmers market, we’re there every week. We’re also starting a bunch of wholesale accounts with local retail shops, specifically Back Country Experience, where have our full line over there. And we’ll make sure that they’re always stocked for people locally that want to get things on a Tuesday or Wednesday. And then we’re hoping to expand our reach, so we’re talking to a bunch of shops in the area and then also in the Southeast. So we’re trying to get some stuff out to the places we really enjoy adventuring in. And yeah, we’ll see what happens.

To learn more about Farm to Summit you can visit their web page at farmtosummit.com or visit them at their booth Saturday mornings at the Durango Farmers Market. Thank you for watching this edition of the Local News Network.

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