For the past eight years or so, my wife and I have been farmers in various settings and capacities. From work trades on farms along the Front Range to a full-time apprenticeship at Finnriver Farm in Washington, we’ve loved learning the trade, living with the rhythm of the seasons, and eating all the fresh, local food we can handle. Since moving back to Denver three years ago, we’ve owned and operated an urban farm called Sunnyside Up Farm, which I’ve written about on these pages before.
Given the deep freeze and the snow on the ground, you might expect things to be pretty quiet at Sunnyside Up Farm this time of year. In farming though, the winter season is just as important and busy a time of year as any. Last week Haley and I were outside battening down the farm in anticipation of the first real winter storm of the season, harvesting kale and arugula, making sure our animals were safe and ready for the cold, prepping beds for a big flower bulb planting as soon it warms up again, and even sneaking in some last minute weeding in our orchard. Soon we’ll be diving into seed catalogs and crunching production numbers to prepare for the growing season, which begins just two short months from now.
While I was throwing mulch on those kale and arugula plants I reflected on this past year at CCMU and how our work follows a similar seasonal pattern to the farm. Spring is always a busy time with our work at the Capitol during the legislative session, and this year we also hosted regional meetings with community health alliances around Colorado to help cultivate local health systems change work. Summertime is the time of carrying out work begun in the spring, nurturing new relationships made on our travels around the state, and focus on learning from the people we serve. This year and every year, autumn passes at a frenetic pace. We held another successful annual luncheon and were all hands on deck as major components of health reform rolled out.
Now, here we are during these cold winter days, and we’re working behind the scenes in anticipation of another busy spring just around the corner. This time of year offers CCMU staff an opportunity to reflect on our work to build on past successes and plan for future undertakings. We’re also taking a lot of time to sit down and educate ourselves and others about what really matters when it comes to health. And, through our new Health is Local project, we’re doing some intensive listening in four communities around the state as they grapple with the implications of and changes brought by health reform.
Just as farmers must take heed in the off-season to plan and prepare, CCMU staffers are working hard planning and preparing for another hectic spring. The less rocks and weeds in our garden—or the more informed and organized we are—the more productive the fruits of our labor will be. We can’t wait to get our hands in the ground of 2014!