Community EngagementPeopleTravels in Indian Country

Food Waste Transforms at Four Winds

posted by Ben Jacobs September 20, 2018
Hopi Amaranth grown at Four Winds American Indian Council in Denver, Colorado

Long time no blog. Although I haven’t contributed to our blog recently, I am back and ready with a topic that is dear to my heart.

In a previous post we discussed the importance of sustainability and what we as a company are doing to help become better stewards of the environment. Hand in hand with sustainability is the conversation of waste in restaurants. As you can imagine, there can be a great deal of food waste in a restaurant environment. For quite some time we have wanted to find ways to utilize the waste that is created under our roof. Which raised the question, beyond helping the environment, could we utilize waste in a meaningful manner to help others? The answer is yes, through composting.

About eight months ago we began saving all vegetable scraps at our North Denver location and provided them to Shannon Francis and Four Winds American Indian Council for composting. This process was all catapulted by one of our managers and crew members, Shania Gonzalez, who is Shannon’s daughter. Shaina spearheaded the creation of a daily compost bucket in the kitchen and discussed with the crew the importance of saving veggie scraps. You may be asking yourself, hey that’s cool but then what? What is happening with the compost? Well, let’s start with a little background.

Several years ago we began a conversation with Shannon about how we could help to continue the work she and many others were doing in a local garden at the Denver Indian Center. At the time Shannon was working on transitioning the garden to Four Winds American Indian Council a few miles from the Indian Center. Since the move, Shannon and others from Four Winds along with youth from the community have worked on developing a traditional garden working to develop healthy soil for the production of indigenous vegetables right in the heart of the city. With our kitchen waste and the food waste from Four Winds, Shannon is continually composting to create refreshed and renewed soil.

Over the last four years the garden has flourished and become more productive each year. Four Winds has been able to provide healthy vegetables to many elders, families and multiple talking circles around town. They are hoping to continue this work by adding chickens and beehives to the property in the next few years. We do very little for this process, but as we see it, minor steps help create major change. As a community working together we can help to create positive change for both people and the environment. Four Winds garden proves you do not need a lot of space to create a lot of good for people. Check out our next episode of The Plunge to see our interview with Shannon about the Four Winds Garden. Here it is, on our blog!

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