A Dream Realized: The Rio Grande Healthy Living Park

By Gena Akers

This past July, a group of individuals united by a common dream for a plot of land near a rural Southern Colorado town got a second chance. 

“Over time, I hope this becomes part of the fabric of our community,” says Julie Mordecai, acting director of the Rio Grande Healthy Living Park (RGHLP). For Mordecai and the other RGHLP supporters, it is an honor to just have the sewing machine back out on the table.

The future home of the RGHLP is the former Polson Elementary School property, a 38-acre plot near the intersection of Hwys. 17 and 160, just east of Alamosa. Some of the plans for the RGHLP include a working farm, a year-round local food market, botanical gardens, commercial kitchen, event space and walking trails, all of which will help to make the “entrance into Alamosa more attractive,” says Mordecai. Besides these initiatives, proponents hope to continue their relationship with the San Luis Valley’s local Guatemalan community. The RGHLP is host to eight farm plots managed by Guatemalan families, many of which were economically displaced after the closure of the nearby Rakhra Mushroom Farm. Besides these plots, proponents hope to expand agricultural research opportunities beyond potatoes, one of the Valley’s main crops. Through all of these combined efforts, Bill Brinton, RGHLP supporter and East Alamosa resident, says the project will offer “a new kind of economic self-reliance.”

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