Nick Chambers, Founder of Living Arts Systems and Executive Director of Valley Roots Food Hub, gives a tour of his family homestead, “Chokecherry Farm,” in the San Luis Valley near Crestone, Colorado. After living in a teepee for a decade and apprenticing on a biodynamic farm in British Columbia, Nick and his wife Alycia moved to Colorado where they built their wood framed straw-bale home by hand. The circular two-story, load bearing straw-bale structure features a wrap-around greenhouse, solar hot water (with supplemental wood fire heat), and special cardinal alignments and symbolism of alchemical significance (Salt, Sulfur, and Mercury; representing “grounding,” “ascension,” and “cosmic” energies).
Also on the farm are a commercial kitchen with beautiful, nail-free mortise and tenon joinery; a below-grade greenhouse with anaerobic digesters buried underneath for heat, fertilizer compost, and methane bio-gas production (all via the magic of microbiology: thermophilic methanogens!). The farm has hosted a variety of interns and WWOOFers (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farm interns), and has been host to many artisan food manufacturers. He reflects on the super-abundant resources available from Mother Nature, and that by working with natural materials, soil, biomass, and solar radiation, we can create extraordinary dwellings and resilient homes.
At Valley Roots Food Hub, Nick and his team connect farmers, ranchers, and value-added artisan food manufacturers directly with restaurants, grocers, and even families’ front porches through their innovative Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box offerings (visit valleyrootsfoodhub.com for more information). Nick encourages us to rethink resilience, food security, and self-sufficiency in an interconnected world, and reminds us that with our food purchasing decisions, we are voting “3 times a day.”
Nick Chambers has worked in small farming, homesteading, and renewable energy innovations, education, and service/installations for the last 20 years. For the last 9 years he has worked in the Colorado local food movement, specifically in food distribution. He currently serves as the Founding General Manager for the Valley Roots Food Hub, a statewide distributor/aggregator specializing in source-identified and regeneratively-grown produce, meat, dairy, and value-added food products.
Nick is based in the San Luis Valley of Colorado where his beloved homestead, Chokecherry Farm, is situated in the small hamlet of Crestone, and where the Valley Roots Food Hub is based in Mosca, the potato and Quinoa capitol of North America. Crestone has been a verdant seedbed for Nick to put his deep Permaculture and “live or die” renewable energy to practice. Anaerobic digestion treats wastewater and produces cooking gas, solar hot water runs residences and a commercial kitchen, and wood stove thermo-siphon hot water provides domestic hot water back up. Thankfully, his family has been willing to check the temperature of the water before a shower, and if its been cloudy a fire needs to be lit! Much of the work Nick employs comes out of feasibility studies, mentorships, and solar installations done throughout the valley, as well as serving as Adjunct Faculty at Santa Fe Community College’s Biofuels department. Planned for 2021 is a commercial venture in Mosca where various renewable technologies will be working in concert to produce value added agricultural products in a Renewable Energy Park setting. Nick also enjoys supporting his kids as they embark on college and beyond, rambling through the wilderness, and playing music.