Soil that Serves is a partnership opportunity for registered nonprofits, community gardens, and farm to school programs to join the roots of the food and education movement and receive our lowest soil cost opportunity. We encourage groups to apply that are creating changes in their community through education, food security and prioritizing soil and nutrient health.
Have you ever grown veggies above 10,000 feet?
In Leadville, Colorado that’s just what Cloud City Farm and some of its residents are doing, and have been doing for decades.
Cloud City Conservation Center created the Cloud City Farm as a space in the community to discuss and practice sustainable food production. They work with volunteers to maintain a free compost service, a 20 week donation-based (pay as you like) market which also includes a new community garden space. Their values on the farm are centered around sustainability and food system education and community connection through a culture of equity and inclusion.
With the property leased from the school district, farm-to-school education is also important and they work with teachers, after-school programs, and summer programs to offer hands-on experiences and visual representation of food production in a environment where home gardening is challenging and often not an option due to space, cost, clean soil, etc… They are the only produce farm, community garden, and vegetable market (outside our one grocery store) in Leadville.
Lani Meyer came to Cloud City Farm as their Farm Manager 5 years ago. Previously taking a job doing research grafting tomatoes, a topic she’d never attempted before, Lani didn’t shy away from Leadville’s high elevation, contaminated soil, and modified growing season and applied for the position with this nonprofit.
In the last 5 years, Cloud City Farm has grown to a new location, and had the top 6 inches of soil removed when the town’s remediation efforts were still in full swing. They added high tunnels, a community garden, a community wide compost center, which gets turned multiple times per week by community members and is one of the most integrated local composting systems we’ve seen. And they added a Growing Dome from Growing Spaces to their operation, a space that provides year round growing accompanied with a fish pond which regulates indoor thermal temperature, providing overall superior results. We’re excited that Paonia Soil Co. is the medium that fills this growing space. (We’re also happy to say we’re expanding our partnership with Growing Spaces as they’ve recently joined our network of regional resellers!)
For Cloud City Farm, Paonia Soil Co. was a go to choice after some contacts in the surrounding Summit County community had suggested our soil to Lani. Sure enough, we received their application and shortly after that, a photo arrived to our inbox of their first soil delivery accompanied by a blanket of fresh snow.
“There are many reasons I started working with Paonia Soil Co. First, in line with our sustainability efforts, I am always looking to support local and regional Colorado businesses. I'm also trying to reduce our plastic use on the farm, so the reusable soil totes are awesome! Our first year I mainly direct seeded our first small plots, but now 5 years later, I am growing over 2000 transplants for the community though our plant sale fundraiser and managing almost 2500 sq ft of production and we are still growing.
When using PSC high quality potting soil, I am saving time and am easing my mind knowing that my transplants have a balanced nutrition. Mostly, I use PSC's potting soil for transplant production, but I'm excited to get to know many of the other products how the products will best serve us in our raised bed production and how it can help locals create new vegetable garden beds or enrich native soil for successful landscaping. It is so great to know that I can work with PSC to create or order selective products that best suit our needs on the farm.”Lani MyerCloud City Farm Manager
April 30’s workshop brought a sunny day where we discussed Cloud City Farm’s most recently returned Soils Test from Logan Labs. We also discussed heavy metals testing, why plants thrive on organic material and Paonia Soil Co. products that boost water holding capability, like our new soil conditioner Lawngevity. You can check out more about that here.
To close out the workshop, each participant got to up-pot a delicious chive or swiss chard plant or a nasturtium or calendula to take home. It was a workshop for the books and we are over the moon that Cloud City Farm in Leadville is dedicated to this type of work and has brought in Paonia Soil Co. for their growing needs 2 years in a row.
The Cloud City Farm, Greenhouse and Living Classroom is at 440 McWethy Dr. in Leadville, CO.