Durango Café brings a new meaning to locally grown food

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DURANGO, Colo. — Summer is around the corner and many are looking forward to enjoying the great outdoors, but it is also the perfect time of year for those who enjoy going outside for another reason – to forage for food.

One Durango local is taking the movement towards locally grown food to a whole new level.

Katrina Blair is the Founder and Director of Turtle Lake Refuge, a café in Durango that’s in harmony with Mother Nature.

“There is such a value in the relationship when we are eating right from the earth, so I can reach down and pick this comfrey leaf and put it right in my mouth, and what’s incredible is that it’s still living, it’s still at its highest vitality… As humans, as we do that, the more energy and clarity we get,” Blair said.

There is no stove in sight at Turtle Lake Refuge, everything served is raw and wild.

“Wild weeds, dandelions, thistles, mallow and purslane… all these incredible wild weeds that are often overlooked or seen as the bad guys and sprayed to get rid of them,” Blair said. “They’re one of those hidden gems, like a gold mine of nutrients for the human health, so we are bringing that back into people’s daily diet.”

After 22 years of changing the community’s perspective on foraged food, Blair added that it’s starting to catch on.

“More and more restaurants are wanting wild foods, and we also grow here at Turtle Lake Refuge, we grow microgreens that we serve to the community, schools and the stores,” she said. “And of course we have this wild food lunch twice a week and do a lot of education, so there is more and more growing interest.” 

For Blair, it’s not just food for the body, but food for the soul.

“It’s bliss, I go on these walk-abouts each year, and the last 13 to 14 years I hiked from Telluride, which is about 100 miles, it goes over 8 mountain passes and I don’t usually bring any food, last year I brought a salad dressing, so that was an extra special treat! I get more energy from appreciating the plants than from eating them,” Blair said. 

Blair offers classes at Turtle Lake Refuge where she teaches locals how to see the abundance of food all around them.