On a windy August day outside of Fort Collins, three Colorado State University students crouch in a field, harvesting a crop by hand. The plants in the field, which are browning slower than usual during a wet, cool summer, are a light tan color and about knee high.
The crop is called camelina, and the researchers believe these plants, which produce tiny, oil-filled seeds, could provide farmers with the ability to grow their own fuel on the farm.
Cesar Nufio is holding a box of dead grasshoppers. The insects, precisely pinned, with miniscule labels affixed beneath them, march down the box in neat, dark lines.
The grasshoppers are just a sampling of a 50-year-old set of 13,000 grasshoppers that Nufio, an entomologist at the University of Colorado, is using to learn about climate change. Until the scientist happened upon them about a decade ago, this collection was nearly forgotten – stored in 250 wooden boxes atop a shelf. Ever since finding the collection, Nufio has been piecing together the story of the lost grasshoppers, and is using them to understand how the change in the area's climate is affecting the insects.
Inside of the Greeley school district's cavernous food services warehouse, nutrition service director Jeremy West leans over a 40-gallon kettle and turns a crank, showing how it tilts for easier access. The pot, empty now, will soon bubble with marinara sauce or maybe burrito filling – with some of those tomatoes or beans coming from farms less than 20 miles away.
West appreciates those giant pots, but said he wouldn't mind a couple more. Preparing food from scratch takes equipment and space. He's lucky to mostly have the facilities he needs. Many other schools that want to source fresh food from local farmers and ranchers are having a harder time.