DENVER — Jewish Family Service of Colorado (JFS) recently announced it acquired Altius Farms, an urban agricultural enterprise located in the Five Points/Curtis Park neighborhood in Denver.
Now known as JFS Altius Farms, the agricultural enterprise uses hydroponic systems and vertical techniques to produce between 600 and 750 pounds of fresh vegetables and herbs at their downtown Denver farm.
“Altius Farms was founded in 2015. It took us a while to get this site in downtown Denver on a rooftop built. We launched in 2018. So for the last five years, we've been growing leafy greens and herbs for restaurants for grocery stores and some direct to consumer,” Sally Herbert, Founder of Altius Farms said. “We use non-GMO seeds. We have about 40 customers in the Denver area.”
Linda Foster, President and CEO of JFS said the partnership will allow JFS and Altius Farms to serve more people. JFS is a 150-year-old nonprofit human service agency with more than 30 plus programs and services from mental health services to food assistance.
“Before COVID, we were serving 45 households every pantry day. Now we're serving on average between 130 and 150 households every single pantry day,” Foster said.
Foster said job training is also an important part of the partnership.
“We were very focused on employment and training. And this will give us the opportunity to train veterans and others who have high barriers to employment, including those with disabilities and refugees. Also, potential employment as well for those who are interested in either aeroponic gardening or farming in general,” Foster said. “It also eventually will give us the opportunity to have profit that will help help offset our programs that have deficits.”
Herbert is also looking forward to the opportunities the new partnership provides.
“We have trained here veterans, military veterans for the last four years. So training is a part of our culture. And I'm excited about having this opportunity to expand those programs to a broader base of individuals in need,” Herbert said. “This is hyper-local growing in a very sustainable way. We've got a short supply chain, our customers are getting the most fresh products that they possibly can...what you get in the grocery store for the most part is seven to 10 days old. Our customers are getting this product same day or next day.”
Foster said JFS Altius Farms plans to add containers that are environmentally controlled where we can grow even more produce.