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Archive for the ‘Gardens on Spring Creek’ tag

Lifelong learning, lifelong happiness

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Sometimes, it feels as if there are not enough hours in the day. I particularly feel this way after a long day at work, or a busy weekend full of housework and errands. And when this happens, I usually find myself lounging on the couch for hours watching the television. I’m glad to have some rest, but still feeling slightly unproductive. Though I can be running around for what seems like all day, when I finally get free time I sometimes wish I did something for me, something I truly enjoy. It’s a feeling that I desire that I am not sure HGTV completely provides.

Here in Fort Collins, we have so many opportunities to pursue our interests. And it is well worth taking advantage of these opportunities. Doing a quick Google search on “benefits of hobbies” generates tons of articles, all praising the positive aspects of pursuing our interests. You can probably imagine what the list might be: hobbies reduce stress, lower blood pressure, stimulate brain activity and thus improving memory and concentration, and simply just have general health benefits. And there are many things you can do to receive these benefits, whether you enjoy nature, art, music, or crafts.

For me, I feel like I am improving myself every time that I learn something. The knowledge that comes from even the smallest things, like learning about a new animal in one of our natural areas, make me feel like I have accomplished something. It is important to always be challenging ourselves to do new things, and learn new things. Working your mind is not just about being healthy; it is about feeling enriched personally. So when you think about your “me time,” when you do get it, what do you do that is really for you? And let’s be clear, checking email does not really count as a hobby, though it can keep you in touch with friends and family. Doing what you love is essential, and being able to use your time outside of work to explore those things that you love is very rewarding.

On March 1, the City of Fort Collins released the Spring 2010 Recreator, a comprehensive guide to recreational activities in Fort Collins. Here you will find ways to engage in whatever it is you love, from sports to arts to cooking to pretty much anything else you can think of. Special programs are available for youth and seniors as well. At the moment the Recreator is only available online, but you can begin signing up for classes on March 11.

While the Recreator will give you more than enough classes and activities to fill your time, there are many other opportunities to suit your needs throughout Fort Collins. It is all a matter of looking and asking. Art galleries and studios often hold their own classes (the Center for Fine Art Photography, for example, holds regular workshops and the Colorado Coalition of the Arts has a lecture series). Depending upon your interests, you can call up a group associated with your field and it is likely that they will have class, workshops, lectures, and events available (Try the Northern Colorado Writers Studio if you’re literary or the Gardens on Spring Creek if you are into cultivating). With just a little research, you can find groups that love the same things as you do. This is another way that we can be enriched by our hobbies: through community interaction.

I know the couch is tempting, and at times it is even necessary for a bit of relaxation. But we all need something that is our own, something that improves us and enhances us. What will you do to get out and explore your hobbies in Fort Collins? Spread the word about great classes and activities to get everyone involved!

How does your local produce grow?

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Summer is here!  Over the weekend, the rain stayed away, the sun kept shining, and at the Taste of Fort Collins, the list of possible food choices seemed to never end!  Brazilian, Cuban, and Mexican food; barbeque, fondue, gelato, pizza, fresh fruit and juice were just a few of the possibilities.  Artists, craft vendors, and Sugar Ray and Gin Blossoms rounded out the experience of celebrating summer—together outdoors.  Gathering with neighbors and friends and meeting new people is an integral part of the summer fun of festivals, food, and performances in Northern Colorado.  There’s also a lot you can sink your teeth into to keep your “taste” of Fort Collins going all season long.  Since food, culture, and community are so interconnected, we’d love to hear how you “taste” Fort Collins all summer long!

Whether you gather at a local restaurant, visit a farmers’ market, support local agriculture, or grow some of your own food, there are many ways to think about making meals with the bounty of summer.  People all over Fort Collins are connecting with each other at regularly scheduled markets to buy fresh and locally grown produce.  If you planned ahead, you may be enjoying shares from one of our local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farms, which is one option.  In Larimer County, there are at least six separate farmers’ markets.  The Colorado Agricultural Marketing Cooperative offers three markets to local growers and consumers (produce is restricted to Larimer, Morgan, Boulder or Weld Counties, with the exception of Western Slope fruit).  The County of Larimer offers its own market which is run by its Master Gardener volunteers on Saturday mornings at the Larimer County Courthouse Parking Lot (north side of Oak Street between Mason and Howes Streets in Fort Collins). There’s also the Drake Road Farmers’ Market on Saturday, and on Fridays out on South Shields, you’ll find the Gulley Greenhouse & Garden Center Market. If you know of other Fort Collins farmers’ markets, let us know!

Or perhaps you have joined the growing number of Americans who have planted food in your own backyard!  According to the National Garden Association, 43 million Americans planned to grow food in their backyards this year—that’s up 19% from last year.  Even Michelle Obama has joined in and organized a “recession garden.”  She’s not the first First Lady to implement a garden at the White House.  During World War I and World War II, in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Germany, people planted gardens at private residences to reduce the demand on the public food supply and support the war effort.  Eleanor Roosevelt placed her “victory garden” on the White House lawn in 1943—although the Agriculture Department objected—and by the end of the war, 40% of the country’s food was grown in community gardens and backyards.  These gardens were considered civil “morale boosters,” since they could help gardeners feel empowered and rewarded by the produce they grew.  Today more Americans live in urban and suburban areas, so community and container gardening is growing in popularity—even in a small space, you can grow something.  In Fort Collins, you can see community gardens and gardeners at work and get composting information and tips at The Gardens on Spring Creek. Fort Collins has a worm exchange (for composting) and a plant exchange as well.  There are plans for even more community gardens around the city next year.  Home Grown Food is based in Fort Collins, and has evolved in association with Grow Food Not Lawns, and you can find out more about edible landscapes at Northern Colorado Gardenscapes.

If you’d rather just eat fresh local food than grow your own, you can always join in and declare July 4 as Food Independence Day along with the non-profit group Kitchen Gardeners International.  The group promotes the ideas that local foods are patriotic (either grown in your area or by you), and that they’re good for our local farmers, our economies, our health, and our planet.  You can plan a holiday menu of local produce and foods, or declare a different independence day to coincide with celebrations in another part of the world!  However you choose to enjoy local produce this Summer, we hope you’ll savor the taste of food from our community.  I can smell fresh basil just thinking about it!

Take time to stop and smell the tomatoes!

Thanks for the photos gregor_y.

Deborah Lombard