About West Slope Organics

The westslope of Colorado is to healthy and natural food what Napa Valley is to good wine.

It’s not just about the food, it’s about the experience. Our thriving local food system brings visitors from across the globe to enjoy our bounty, beautiful scenery, and outdoor activities. Biking, hiking, skiing, climbing, or just being, are there to enjoy in the vast open spaces that surround us. Something indescribable happens when we open ourselves to the beauty of nature. That is especially true here in western Colorado. From Escalante-Dominguez Canyon with its dramatic scenery, to Grand Mesa, the biggest flat top mountain in the world, you can cover over 6,000 feet of elevation in just an hour and a half drive. On a clear day you can see the San Juans of Telluride. On a clear night you can see the Milky Way as a bright splash across the sky. Whether on the mountain, in the canyon, or in downtown Paonia, nature speaks to you. To experience it you don’t even need to look up. You can just feel it. That indescribable feeling penetrates everything and everyone here. And yes, it’s in our food!

You’ll notice the slower pace, the smile and nod on the street, and the mindfulness in what folks do on the westslope. People here have a charm, a calmness, and a connectedness that is contagious. There’s a serenity that comes with spending time in the backcountry. If we’re not in it, it’s not far away. You can see it all around you. That kind of immersion does something to a person. I like to think that it brings out our more natural state – a state that comes from being in a place made for people, plants and animals, and not as much for cars and shopping. Here, wealth is defined more in terms of acres and shares of water than in dollars. Wealth is something you can dig your hands into, and it’s dark, rich, and damp. Your soil is your baby, and the land its cradle.

Westslope Organics
Westslope Organics

My personal mission is to bring positive change into the world. Westslope Organics is a full expression of that for me. I strive to explore relationships to their natural best. I have this in common with more people than I would have ever imagined. I think this is because I was trained to believe that there is too much risk in trusting. But, as it turns out, relationships cannot thrive without full trust. At Westslope Organics, we believe that the quality of our relationships dictates how effective we are in anything we set out to do. Building healthy relationships is a constant practice of introspection. Our work is to develop ourselves in order to affect those around us in the most positive way.

As an undergrad in the early 90’s, I studied Environmental Science with the idea that I would make significant contributions to how we live in and with our environment. This concept would become known as sustainability. The main question I kept asking is, “How can we quickly move towards a healthy relationship with our environment without radically changing our social systems?” To me, the answer was through business. I started adding economics courses to my studies, and later earned an MBA. I had a strong sense that having an understanding of the nature of our environment alongside an understanding of business and our economy would be an invaluable, if not unusual, combination. The perception that business and our environment are fundamentally at odds with our environment simply had to change. However, people are consciously making more and more choices that not only do less harm to our relationship with environment, but that actually improve it. Buying Westslope Organics products is a powerful way to demonstrate that choice.

I use the phrase “improve our relationship with the environment” because we really don’t know what improving our environment means. Our environment is simply too complex a system to believe that we can engineer a better one. After all, we humans wouldn’t even be here if not for a catastrophic event that wiped out the dinosaurs. That event made it possible for us scurrying mammals to evolve into you and me. This is our heritage. Nature takes care of itself; if we want to support our own healthy existence, we are wise to leave it to do its thing. But with over 7 billion people and growing strong, leaving it alone is simply not an option. But instead of striving to do less harm, what if we and the businesses we buy from actually supported our healthy existence with our planet and in our communities? This is what Westslope Organics offers. We create the conditions to let healthy soils grow, to let farming be a prosperous endeavor, and to support our local economy. In doing this, we improve our relationship with our environment simply by doing our core business.

Westslope Organics Dried Peaches

West Slope OrganicsOur logo, the peach tree emerging from the circle, has a few meanings. It symbolizes how we can always emerge from the boundaries that seem to confine us. In human terms, it is our transcendence beyond self-limitation. It is also a play on the tree of life which connects all forms of creation. And the peach is not only our first and flagship product, but it also conveys the aspect of nature that is both vulnerable and fragile. Peaches are among the sweetest and most flavorful fruits there are. They are also among the most delicate. The shelf-life of well stored fresh peaches is measured in days, not weeks as with other fruits. We believe that it is our duty to care for the vulnerable in nature and society. Each of us was at some time completely reliant on the love and compassion of others for our survival and comfort. We believe that our communities thrive when we do our best to care for those in need. We can’t think of a better symbol of that than the delicate, flavorful peach.

Our Impacts

Health & Local Economy

Impact on local food systems will be accelerated through consistent, profitable contract purchasing and marketing of organic local food. Once operational, our facility will have the capacity to purchase millions of dollars in fresh local harvest each season. In addition to the people we will employ, several hundreds jobs will be created indirectly as farmers expand production and support related businesses to grow. Our impact and profitability will grow hand in hand with an awareness of the connection between healthy soil and healthy people.       

Local Food Resiliency

We will strengthen and expand market for organically grown local food, providing farmers a reliable financial incentive to grow more food – satisfying the community’s appetite for fresh local volume first, and then regionally and nationally.  Having lots of food grown close to home means that we can feed our communities without relying on imported supplies.

Advantages of Gentle Drying

We have the capability to add dehydration capabilities to our facility. Our gentle drying processing uses less than half of the energy of freeze-drying, and results in a higher quality product.  In addition to preserving fresh fruits and vegetables, our dehydration method removes up to 98% of water content, thereby significantly reducing heavy transportation costs and related carbon emissions. Transportation for our gentle dried food does not require refrigeration, saving additional energy. And we’re organic! Organic farming methods can act as a carbon sink, sequestering large amounts of carbon in both the soil and crop biomass. Finally, our manufacturing facility will utilize the latest technology and methods in energy efficiency and renewable energy. These advantages, combined with our priority buying of fresh local produce, will generate compound local regenerative impacts.