Aspen Peak - - Contents - BY MURAT OZTASKIN

With Aspen TREE, Eden Vardy brings the fo­cus back to the land.


“The in­ter­ac­tions that take place in gar­dens are un­de­ni­ably good for com­mu­nity,” says Eden Vardy. “The de­sire to share with neigh­bors is al­most a byprod­uct of gar­den­ing.” It’s this com­mu­nal men­tal­ity and a re­spect for the land that he aims to share at Aspen TREE, the ed­u­ca­tional “farm park” he founded with his wife, River, on the out­skirts of Woody Creek in 2008.

Born in Is­rael but raised in the val­ley, Vardy, now 31, stud­ied food sys­tems and eco-so­cial de­sign in col­lege, all the while trav­el­ing—in Thai­land, Uganda, Laos, China, and Mex­ico—to learn the ways that “more-tra­di­tional cul­tures” main­tain “a healthy re­la­tion­ship to the land.” Now he’s teach­ing those very same lessons to Aspen’s next gen­er­a­tion. Eschew­ing guilt-based rhetoric, Aspen TREE’s ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams fa­vor a fo­cus on so­lu­tions, Vardy ex­plains, such as show­ing kids how many seeds they can plant with the wa­ter they save by wash­ing their hands more ef­fi­ciently.

The non­profit also leads by ex­am­ple, run­ning Farm Park at Cozy Point Ranch, a pub­lic “nat­u­ral land­scape where ev­ery­thing’s edi­ble,” says Vardy. It’s a paragon of sus­tain­abil­ity, with sys­tems de­signed to “elim­i­nate the con­cept of waste al­to­gether.” This kind of con­nec­tion to the land is be­ing re­flected through­out the val­ley’s lush pub­lic and pri­vate gar­dens, in­clud­ing the edi­ble gar­den in front of City Hall and the ex­panded Aspen Com­mu­nity Gar­den. But for all that, says Vardy, it still comes down to a sim­ple truth: “A gar­den is a di­rect in­ter­ven­tion point with na­ture.” .

A TREE grows in Aspen: In ad­di­tion to tried-and-true peren­ni­als like herbs and fruit trees, Aspen TREE (whose acronym stands for “to­gether re­gen­er­at­ing the en­vi­ron­ment through ed­u­ca­tion”) also pro­duces eggs, milk, and other an­i­mal prod­ucts, as well as greens, veg­eta­bles, and even, in its trop­i­cal green­house, ba­nanas, ly­chees, and heir­loom toma­toes, says Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Eden Vardy (inset).

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