We had the good fortune of connecting with Craig Broek and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Craig, how do you think about risk?
I think most of life involves taking risks, whether we consider the possible outcomes or not. Sometimes when we go down the path of taking risks, we look back and say, “If I had known I would be where I am today, I would not have taken that risk.” And sometimes when we look back we say, “Wow, I didn’t ever expect to end up here but without taking that risk I would have never discovered this new place.” I have more often had the experience of discovering new territory than that of regret, even when things didn’t (or don’t) turn out the way I had initially hoped. Over time, with the help of a trusted community, I have become more able to calculate the cost and take steps with more awareness but I think I have a greater tolerance for perceived risk than the average person. At times that has forced me to work like crazy to dig out of a hole and other times it’s forced me to work like crazy to achieve a grand vision. But in the words of Robert Frost, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
For 9 years I have served as the co-director (along with my wife, Jeanine) of two non-profits, the Table Urban Farm and the Table Community Church. Our focus has been to build and develop community through the process of growing, harvesting, and eating food together. We are different than most farms in that we give all of our food away instead of selling it. In 9 years of farming we’ve donated over 40,000 lbs. of food back to the community. We’ve placed the highest focus on helping people and connecting people. As an ordained pastor, what sets us apart from other communities of faith is that we have focused our work on providing a service to the community as our first priority. I think combining each of these initiatives has created a unique focus but has also forced us to forge our own way. There weren’t many (if any) similar combinations of organizations that had created a roadmap to follow. I think we’ve been able to make a path that may be helpful for other socially-focused entities. We’ve made plenty of mistakes that we (and others) have learned from. In farming and working with people, every day is different and the conditions and environments seem to be constantly changing. We’ve learned how to adjust and work with people and circumstances that can’t always be predicted. I think what I would want the world to know about our story is that anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first. Our vision has always been to engage our world with tangible grace – in the form of food and relationships. We have learned a lot, been favored by countless relationships and generous people, and been able to participate in something that’s helping our community thrive.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Considering that as a director of a non-profit, our budget for “the best time ever” is limited, I would (at my wife’s suggestion) show them the natural playground around us. We recently went camping near Rainbow Lakes and found a hike along a river. Since water isn’t all that plentiful in the Front Range, I would probably take them on that hike. Then we would go to the Carousel of Happiness in nearby Nederland followed by at stop at the Very Nice Brewing Company. We would check out RMNP and Grand Lake because I love the quaintness of that town as compared to Estes Park. Our favorite food stop in Grand Lake is Squeaky B’s. Closer to home we would take a bike ride along the Platte River and maybe head up to REI to check out some gear or, depending on how adventurous (and in shape) we are feeling, ride south and west toward Deer Creek Canyon and see if we could get some climbing in. Of course our return trip would feature a beer at Breckenridge Brewing and maybe a stop at Grandma’s House Brewery as well, because it’s close to my house and has such a unique vibe. Depending on the season, we would check out a sporting event (assuming fans are allowed). Since we would most likely be downtown we would stop at the Green Russell and find something on Larimer for dinner. We would also introduce them to our people. They’re the reason we live here and do what we do. While there are fun things to do outside of the house, much of our best work happens on front porches, in kitchens and dining rooms in our neighborhood. Our people are the best.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My shoutout is for the hundreds of people who have invested in our vision because they also captured the vision. We are able to pursue what we do not because of our determination but because a large community of micro-supporters have given money, time, sweat, and experience to our journey. To name just a few people would be a disservice to the crowd that has truly made this possible.