Monday already? Ease into the week with some community journalism.

Today we’re taking you to Speedwell Farm and Gardens in Niwot, where a Boulder County couple is growing a sense of community among young farmers at the Treehouse Farm Collective. Reporter Sophia Piña-McMahon travels to their 17-acre plot of cooperatively managed farmland to get a sense of the challenges and triumphs surrounding their experiment in community-based agriculture.

Do you have a story, community event or something else you’d like to see in BRL Today? We’re listening: community@boulderreportinglab.org.

– Jezy, managing editor

Two people stand in the middle of a field with sparse trees in the background against a blue sky
A visitor chats with Matt Kuebbing, a member of the Treehouse Farm Collective. 
Credit: Sophia Piña-McMahon

Top Stories

Boulder County couple supports local restaurants with community-forward farming. Why is their success story so rare?

It’s hard for young farmers to succeed in the United States, but this Boulder County agriculture collective is taking matters into their own hands. Read full story

Boulder County commissioners approve new spending for wildfire mitigation

The $549.8 million budget includes money to pay for restoring open space damaged by 2020 fires and hiring a new position to help plan larger mitigation projects. Read the news brief

10 big questions about Omicron answered by CU experts

Omicron has been identified in nearly two dozen U.S states, with cases confirmed in Boulder County and traces showing up in the county’s wastewater. Lisa Marshall, senior science editor at CU Boulder, interviews two local experts on what the public needs to know. Read the Q&A

Quickly

⏱️ Above-normal temps today. Mid-50s.
⏱️ New protected bike lanes on Folsom Street should be complete by the end of the month, after the city installs plastic delineators on concrete traffic dividers for enhanced visibility.
⏱️ Biologists with Boulder County Parks & Open Space are reporting a successful nesting season for burrowing owls. “Seven owlets fledged from two nest sites,” the department wrote in a tweet.
⏱️ Via Out Boulder County: Boulder scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, a nationwide survey of how city-level laws and services impact LGBTQ+ people. Denver and Fort Collins also received perfect stores.
⏱️ All of Valmont Bike Park is now open.
⏱️ South Mesa Trailhead will be closed on Tuesday, Dec. 14, for trailhead maintenance work. OSMP says all associated trails will remain open to the public. Heavy equipment will be in use at the trailhead and near trails.

Covid-19 in Boulder County: Dec. 13, 2021

  • 109 daily new cases (7-day avg.) 🔺Up 20% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 69 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) 🔺Up from avg. of 38 since July 2020.
  • 68% percent of ICU is occupied 🔻Down from avg. of 72% since July 2020.

Latest Covid news

  • Cases are falling statewide, but hospitals are still full. The number of people hospitalized with the virus in Colorado overall is going down after a brief uptick following Thanksgiving, but that’s not spelling relief for Colorado hospitals. There were about 518 general hospital beds available across the state as of last Thursday, according to Covid-19 incident commander Scott Bookman.
  • Order (or reorder) rapid tests. The state is still mailing out BinaxNOW rapid antigen Covid tests for anyone who wants them, for free. Four tests per order. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment has everything you need to know about how to get them.

BRL Picks

🍽️ Food for thought. Holidays are hard when you’re hungry. That’s why the BVSD School Food Project is distributing Holiday Harvest Food Bags to families today, Dec. 13, from 3–6 p.m. at the Culinary Center, 6500 Arapahoe Rd. “The bags will provide nutritious and tasty supplemental food to families over the breaks when students cannot access school meals,” the department wrote in a Facebook post. “The bags will include pantry staples, locally-grown fruits and vegetables, and other items.”
👂 Support line. For educators and healthcare workers dealing with the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic: The CU Anschutz Medical Campus is offering free phone support from licensed counselors, seven days a week. Call or text 303-724-2500.
📚 A bite of Boulder. Last call for holiday orders of the cookbook, A Bite of Boulder: Cooking at Home with Boulder’s Best Restaurants, produced by First Bite. It includes more than 40 recipes from the city’s favorite restaurants. Order the cookbook by Friday, Dec. 17, to get it this year.

What We’re Reading

  • City camping site. Denver Human Services is planning to open a new safe-camping site for the city’s unhoused residents later this month. It will be the first opened on city-owned land. Denver’s experience allowing people to camp and access centralized sanitation services may help inform members of the Boulder City Council, if they decide to try to do something similar. [Westword]
  • Deep dive on Colorado’s mental health. Colorado’s mental health services “have been failing people,” says Robert Werthwein, the state’s director of the Office of Behavioral Health. That was part of an investigation that found the state has paid mental health centers for services they never provided and centers are treating fewer clients during the pandemic than before. Two days after the story published, Werthwein announced he plans to resign in February. [COLab]

ICYMI from BRL

🤝 Boulder’s political foes team up on city governance reform. John Herrick reports on a newly formed group of residents and organizers called Dialogue Boulder, which has recommended changes to how the city gathers feedback from residents to make policy decisions.
🏘️ Our exit interview with Boulder’s departing housing planner: “I would suggest that Boulder commission a very in-depth analysis of its housing markets because a lot of our housing discourse right now is based on conjecture,” Jacob Lindsey said.

About Us

Hi. We’re Boulder’s new nonprofit newsroom. Our mission is to help you get more informed about the issues you care about and more connected to the city you love. To do this, we provide high-quality, original journalism on the most pressing issues plus curated community information — all paywall-free. Learn more about us here and here.

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Send us your ideas at tips@boulderreportinglab.org.

– The BRL Team

Jezy J. Gray

I’m the managing editor of the Boulder Reporting Lab. In addition to years of writing on the culture, politics and history of my home state of Oklahoma, I was the final editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Voice, a local bi-weekly newspaper where I led a small but mighty team of journalists to regional and national honors in feature writing, diversity reporting, LGBTQ+ coverage and more. I look forward to listening to and learning from the Boulder community as we work together on telling the stories that matter here.