Fort Collins Healthy Food Cluster

What is Fort Collins doing?

In 2011, the Fort Collins comprehensive plan - City Plan - was updated with four goals relating to local food production. As a result of that plan, city staff are working to align the city’s policies and regulations with the goals that the plan outlines. The land use code also was updated to permit urban agriculture in all zone districts and allow farmers’ markets in more zone districts.

The culmination of these healthy food access efforts has led to the launch of the Northern Colorado Local Food Cluster, an effort being supported by the City of Fort Collins Economic Health Department. In recognition of these efforts, Fort Collins achieved five gold medals in the Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties (LMCTC) initiative.

What are the target goals?

Through LMCTC Goal II: MyPlate, Your Place, as well as Goal IV: Model Food Service, Fort Collins places a priority on the health and nutrition of city employees through its award-winning wellness program, which envisions Fort Collins as being the healthiest workplace in America. Programs and services include fitness facilities accessible to city employees, lifestyle management programs and reimbursable visits to a registered dietitian.

Who are the partners? 

A local nonprofit, Sproutin’ Up, grew and distributed more than 2,600 pounds of produce to 200 families in under-resourced neighborhoods during 2014. By engaging 25 youth garden apprentices from those neighborhoods, Sproutin’ Up has not only increased access to fresh, healthy produce but has created a higher level of buy-in and collaboration with the families they serve.

How is the effort being financed? 

Fort Collins keeps operational costs low by using city-owned and operated sites to grow food and provide nutrition education. With partners such as Colorado State University and New Belgium Brewing, the Northern Colorado Local Food Cluster  is focusing on supporting local food businesses, addressing hunger and nutrition for all Fort Collins residents. The city’s success in this national initiative reflects the local value of collaboration and the good work being done by numerous community partners.

Other details

Recently, Fort Collins installed community gardens in public parks. Operated through the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, gardens were strategically placed in underserved neighborhoods. Nonprofits also have stepped in, offering gardens and free farmers’ markets in areas identified as food deserts.

The city’s Gardens on Spring Creek, a community botanical garden, is used to demonstrate sustainable horticultural practices, educate and inspire residents on gardening and nutrition, and provide cooking and nutrition classes at its outdoor kitchen. The Gardens on Spring Creek have a special focus on food security as well.

The Larimer County Food Bank uses donated harvest from the Gardens to support the community each summer. The Food Bank also partners with Northside Aztlan Community Center to provide Kids Café in the afternoon, which serves children in the city’s afterschool enrichment program. In the summer, Kids Café becomes a breakfast and lunch program, and the Food Bank provides thousands of healthy meals at more than a dozen locations to feed and educate underserved children.


Urban Agriculture in Fort Collins 


NLC Staff Contact

Elena Hoffnagle

Institute for Youth, Education and Families

(202) 626-3012,


Last Updated August 2015

Related Topics