Preserving the Environment

Can One Farm Change How an Entire Community Eats?

September 24, 2014
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Can One Farm Change How an Entire Community Eats?
Derek and Kamise Mullen stand with their family next to a hand carved Everitt Farms sign on July 18, 2014 in Lakewood, Colorado. Jason Bahr/Getty Images
Meet the couple trying to turn their Colorado town into a one-stop shop for everything local.

Urban farm movements seem to be everywhere nowadays. But two farmers have a bigger vision in mind: they want to create a whole local food district.

Meet the Mullens, the husband-and-wife team of Derek and Kamise, who are the masterminds behind Everitt Farms in Lakewood, Colo. (a suburb of Denver). Just over a year ago, they began farming on the 7.5 acres that they own and an additional 18 acres that they lease. The fruits of their labor? A wide variety of produce, Christmas trees, horses, chickens and hay.

The Mullens use traditional intensive growing practices, which involve burying root vegetables within a single trench at different levels, surrounded by leafy greens and vine crops. The process is based on an old 1800s method, which is space saving.

Each weekend, Everitt Farms welcomes more than 100 families that purchase locally-grown vegetables and other products.

“We both have really wanted to do something like this for honestly, a good portion of our lives,” Kamise tells Sustainable Cities Collective. “It really wasn’t until we got married about four years ago that we actually started really growing food and trying to farm at all.”

To expand their urban farm even further, the Mullens held a Kickstarter campaign this past January, raising enough funds to add a greenhouse, irrigation system and the starting preparations for an open-air market with a farm stand constructed from the materials of an old barn.

Ultimately, the couple has a larger goal than just feeding their neighbors; they hope that their few acres of farmland will spark a lifestyle change and that others will see the benefits of a community food district complete with a bakery, restaurant, butcher and local products store.

“The people around us still all have at least a quarter acre lot and up to two or three acres,” Kamise tells Sustainable Cities Collective. “There’s a lot of people that grow their own food, there’s a lot of people that process, have jams and jellies, have products they make themselves. We’d really like to incorporate the fact that this was agricultural land and draw the community back into this area and back into farming through trading goods with them.”

She continues, “We’re still in the planning stages for the businesses we’d like to build, but the community is starting to realize when they have extra zucchinis they can come bring it to us and trade it out for tomatoes, jalapenos and things that they couldn’t grow.”

And with the success that the Mullens have had with their own farm, there’s no telling what this power couple can accomplish.

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