Falcon, CO – The coronavirus has changed nearly every one’s way of life – in one way or another. During these uncertain and rocky times, it is hard not to get just a little discouraged. But, for several businesses in our community, they’ve embraced hope and are giving back where they can. Even as they fight for their business’ future, their deep concern for community is abundant.
3 Hundred Days of Shine, a moonshine distillery, started when owner Mike Girard was serving in the military. His first few experimental batches were enjoyed by fellow Army comrades and stemmed his passion for the history and tradition of Colorado moonshine. After he retired out of Fort Carson, 3 Hundred Days of Shine distillery and tasting room was born in Monument, CO.
Business for 3 Hundred Days of Shine has looked a bit different since the start of the coronavirus. Shortly after COVID-19 started spreading throughout the United States, shelves were being emptied of hand sanitizer – leaving none for front line workers, individuals at high risk or for health-conscious citizens.
“When restaurants and bars were closed, we moved to bottle sales only at our tasting room, and shortly thereafter, we started making hand sanitizer.” Mike said.
Mike said that the regulations were a little cumbersome to get the right standards, but they worked through it within the first week and are proud to be producing hand sanitizer for the community.
“The need for sanitizer is so high right now [April through May]. So far, we have given away 10 gallons to the police and fire department, four gallons to the homeless shelter and four gallons to hospice care. We also sell hand sanitizer to the public from our tasting room. We match everything that is sold with a donation to our front-line workers.”
The distillery is rotating between making moonshine and hand sanitizer, as both products are popular right now.
“The community has been extremely supportive of what we’re doing, and we are grateful for that. When they are coming in to buy hand sanitizer, they usually purchase moonshine, too,” Mike said. “Our moonshine distribution sales are down, but the community has made up for that with their local purchases, so we’ve been able to keep our employees, even though their jobs might look a little different right now.”
Mike said some of their bar tenders have learned to help with the production of sanitizer rather than mixing cocktails, so, for now, they are serving up sanitizer instead.
“We hope to get back to normal business as soon as possible,” Mike said, “For now, we are happy to keep making sanitizer for our first responders and our community.”
To learn more and view their hours of operations visit the 3 Hundred Days of Shine website.
Tucked into the woods of Black Forest used to be a relatively unknown business, Emerge Aquaponics. That was until founder and owner, Josh Imhoff, started their “Lettuce help you” program during the COVID-19 pandemic. Emerge Aquaponics grows 2,700 heads of lettuce each week using their sustainable aquaponics system. Prior to the coronavirus, they sold their high-quality lettuce to restaurants and schools. When the stay-at-home order shut down their income sources, they didn’t think twice about giving their produce away.
“We asked ourselves, ‘could heads of lettuce help people right now?’” Josh said. “Everyone agreed that they thought it could, so we built a road in our front yard, so it would make a loop, and we invited people to come and take a head for themselves and one for someone else they knew might need it.”
Josh wondered if anyone would show, but when he walked out to open the gate to their farm, there was a line of cars down Shoup Rd, a major road through Black Forest. Josh said everyone was patient with them and extremely supportive of their mission to help feed the community.
“People thanked us for bringing hope, and we just thought we had lettuce,” Josh said. “That first Friday, we ran out of lettuce in three hours, so we decided we’d give away our produce through the state closure. It is amazing to see everyone get behind us. We went from being a relatively unknown business, to making a name for ourselves in the community.”
Josh did confess that Emerge Aquaponics is struggling to make ends meet, since they are giving most of everything they grow away. Several people have given donations to Emerge Aquaponics during the “Lettuce Serve You” giveaway, but Josh says it hasn’t made up for all of their lost revenue. He said it still feels right to be supportive to those who have even greater needs during the COVID-19 crisis.
Visit the YWAM Emerge to learn more about Emerge Aquaponics.
On a typical night at JAKs Brewing Company, on Stapleton Drive in Falcon, you’ll find a bustle of activity, lots of brews being poured, laughs a plenty, food trucks, and folks relaxing around the bar. But these days, COVID-19 has made things far from typical. Tony Lee, one of JAKs Brewing’s founders, saw there was a need for a food pantry in Falcon during these difficult times, so JAKs has converted their brewery into a temporary-food pantry.
“To get started, we did a call for food donations, and people we’re extremely generous about dropping off food,” Tony said. “We don’t have a limit on how many times those in need can visit; we just want them to have a safe environment where they don’t feel any judgement.”
Tony said that the food pantry idea came out of wanting to provide for their community, something JAKs Brewing has always been passionate about.
“We want to spread positive light during this dark time,” Tony said.
JAKs Brewing is founded by three gentlemen that all served in the military. Tony said their service to their country founded their commitment to their community.
“Before the brewery was even open, we brewed root beer and raised money for a local kid who was fighting cancer,” Tony said. “That was in 2015, and we’ve been trying to support our community ever since.”
Tony said that JAKs Brewing is still selling their beer – people can pick it up and take it to-go from their brewery, but that unfortunately, they’ve had to furlough some of their staff for the time being. The pantry staff are all generous volunteers.
“Like so many businesses, we are hoping that eventually our brewery opens back up and things go back to normal, but for now we haven’t set an end date for the pantry. There is certainly still a need for it right now.” Tony said.
To learn more visit the JAK’s Brewery website.
Mountain View Electric Association, Inc. knows there are many more stories of communities coming together to help neighbors in need. From Monument to Falcon, Hanover to Fountain, Calhan to Limon, and every town in between there are members who are showing their perseverance and lending a hand. Whether you know of members who are donating their time and skills – like a group of sewing ladies in Limon who made over 400 masks for Lincoln Community Hospital and Limon Police Department – or businesses who are graciously donating what they can, MVEA would love to hear from you. To submit stories, email Communications. As we power on through the challenges of COVID-19, it’s important to remember we are all better together.