Get to Know your Local Farmer: Food For All Farm

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Miles and his helpers, Shane and Kevin, do an evening carrot harvest

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Miles hard at work on harvest day

Food for all Farm is nestled in the beautiful Mancos Valley, with views of both the La Plata mountains and Mesa Verde National Park. Miles Gallagher, owner and operator of Food for All, has been farming for six years. He is originally from Washington DC but has lived in Colorado for about 10 years. He landed himself in Mancos because there was some temporary work available, and seven years later he is still there! Upon moving to Mancos, Miles worked under another farmer for two years before starting his own business. He grows what he calls “market vegetables,” which includes lettuce, arugula, herbs, carrots, beets, cabbage, squash, potatoes and tomatoes. His farm is 10 acres, with 1 ¼ under production. Although most of his life he has worked in construction or for the Park Service, Miles has always had an interest in growing food, working on a few farms on the East coast before moving to Colorado. Miles works six days a week, always being sure to take Sunday off. Even still, he puts in 50-60 hours a week in the season, as do most small farmers! He hires other people to work alongside him for about 50 hours a week. “For me, hiring people to help is the only way to be in an appropriate scale. By hiring more people, I can produce more. It has taken me a long time to figure that out,” Miles admits with a smile. Harvest day at Food for All Farm is always a fun event with five or six people, paid and volunteers, coming to help with the harvest to get ready for the Durango Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. Even Miles’ mom, Mary, who also lives in Mancos, can be found in the greenhouse every Friday morning harvesting all the ripe tomatoes.

 

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The season’s hubbard squash, all to be donated

The name “Food for all Farm” came about because Miles donates a quarter of what he grows to local charities, including Manna Soup Kitchen in Durango and Grace’s Soup Kitchen in Cortez. He spent a lot of time traveling around the country in his twenties and saw a lot of suffering and poverty in the United States. He wondered for many years what he could do to help, what his role could be in having a positive impact on his community. After living in Mancos and working under another farmer for two years, he thought that owning a farm and donating food could be just the right fit. “I just saw this (farming to donate) as an opportunity to do some good in this world,” Miles says. “People who are poor also deserve, just like you and I, to eat good quality, organic food. Most of what you see in soup kitchens are the things no one else wants. I want to give them something better. It feels good. The name Food for All seemed like a great extension of my donation-based model.” Miles would one day like to donate more than a quarter, but that is a work in progress!

Miles also likes that he is a farmer because he is passionate about sourcingIMG_0615[1] as much food as we can locally. “Farming is somewhat of a political act,” he says. “there is no reason why our food cannot come from local producers instead of supporting big trucks coming in from California. Good food grown by ourselves and our neighbors helps bring about a sense of trust in one another.”

Although Miles likes all the crops he grows, his favorite crop is Napa Cabbage. “I could eat it every day and never get tired of it!” he says enthusiastically.” I myself have had the opportunity to try his Napa Cabbage Slaw, a delicious spicy addition to many meals. If you have a chance, try making the recipe, listed at the end of the article.

 

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Miles’ mom, Mary, in the greenhouse

According to Miles, the biggest challenge of being a small farmer is marketing. “There is a ton of demand but finding that demand and being able to get the product there in an efficient manner is difficult. I think most farmers want to sell more crops than they do but it is hard to sell them. Knowing how to run a business is hard. The plants are easy. They want to grow. They grow if you plant them. The business side is just something that comes along with growing food, which is actually what I am passionate about.” The Southwest Farm Fresh Cooperative has done well marketing for Miles this year, and he is happy and proud to be a part of it. Miles sells his produce at the Durango Farmers Market and through the Southwest Farm Fresh Cooperative.

Miles’ Spicy Napa Cabbage SlawIMG_8479

1 Napa cabbage, finely chopped and salted

2 Carrots

Juice from one lime

salt to taste

3 Tbs Sesame Oil

2-3 Dashes Soy Sauce

Mix wet ingrediatents, and then pour over cabbage and carrots. Add more soy sauce/oil/salt to taste. Enjoy!

 

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