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Kim Doyle Wille shares abundance

Locations: News Published

Melons, squash, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and herbs, plus over 100 varieties of pollinator-friendly flowers — all of these and more are growing from seed and seeking soil.

Kim Doyle Wille has golden eyes reflecting a golden heart. She’s also got some 5,000 plant starts, representing around 400 different varieties, spilling out of her El Jebel home. Many of the varieties were grown from saved seeds, making them regionally adapted to our climate. This includes 17 varieties that survived the Lake Christine Fire, which came right up to Wille’s house.

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“Most of what is planted is not available in local nurseries, as I didn’t want to diminish the business of those who do so much to support our efforts throughout the year,” said Wille. She bought premium potting soil and planted extras of everything everywhere (the guest bathroom, bedroom, dining room and an outdoor room outfitted with full spectrum grow lights).

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This bathtub/shower combo is serving as a plant nursery. Courtesy photo

Wille, a longtime resident of the Valley and recently a gardening teacher at Yampah Mountain High School for nine years, is selling these plants as well as offering them for free to families in need. As soon as she first heard that bonus SNAP benefits would end in March 2023, she got busy. The Pandemic Relief Benefit represented $95 to $250 per month for families, taken away at the same time grocery prices skyrocketed. The summer months are an especially vulnerable time for children who depend on free and reduced meals through schools.

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“Food stamps are not a bad thing, they help us when we need help,” Wille insisted.

Her hunger-relief mission began in 2008, when the recession plunged friends and neighbors and herself into need. On a trip to Arvada, she noted how one food pantry offered produce, which was not the case locally at the time. In 2010, Wille won an Oscar Meyer Weinermobile “Good Mood Mission” ride to the Carbondale and Glenwood Springs Lift-Up facilities. Her goal was to prove that food-insecure neighbors wanted and needed fresh produce in local pantries. Gardeners traded excess harvests for organic seeds donated by Botanical Interests and the event was a success.

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Later, in 2013, Wille and Dolores Pulver dedicated ten plots of the Good Seed Community Garden in Carbondale to providing produce for Lift-Up, a tradition that Pulver continues to this day. Since 2011, the Good Seed Community Garden’s mission, she informed The Sopris Sun, is to donate fresh food to people in need, with gardeners asked to set aside 10% of their harvests to give away. And the trend has grown, with Lift-Up contracting local farms for fresh vegetables beginning in 2020. In 2022, 63% of the nonprofit’s food budget was paid to local producers, their website states.

Since leaving Yampah last year, Wille has been building teaching gardens at her property while learning how to podcast and acquiring the right equipment. She’ll be launching a “High Altitude Gardener” podcast and YouTube channel soon, once plant starts are distributed and her teaching gardens are planted. Wille has received help from a former student and friends, and invites anyone to volunteer in exchange for plant starts.

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“I need to get all the plants distributed, or sold, by June 9,” she told The Sopris Sun, hoping to recoup some of the $3,000 she invested on grow rooms.

Help Wille and others by buying a few starts, and/or referring friends and neighbors in need that want to grow their own food this year.

The plants are available by appointment, seven days a week, at $3 and $4. An updated list of varieties can be found at “Growing Empowerment” on Facebook. To schedule an appointment or volunteer, Wille can be reached via that same Facebook page, or at

Tags: #Dolores Pulver #food insecurity #gardening #Good Seed Community Garden #Kim Doyle Wille #Lift-Up #SNAP #Yampah Mountain High School
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