Kris Holstrom Experience, Education, and Work Background

hos back



  • 1974    Graduated Ft. Collins High School, Ft. Collins, Colorado
  • 1974    Attended Colorado State University for two quarters – major Outdoor Recreation
  • 1977   B.S. in Forest Management, UtahStateUniversity, Logan, Utah
  • 1982    M.S. in Horticulture, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

Work experience:


As County Commissioner representing District 3, Kris has spent the last 3 3/4 years learning the ins and outs of county government. There is much to learn! From initial training through Colorado Counties, Inc. to going through the first county budgeting process to interviewing and bringing on new key staff, the years have been busy.

Along with Commissioner Hilary Cooper and Joan May and now Lance Waring, Kris helped develop County goals that in 2020 include: Increasing Opportunities for Publich Health, Increasing Affordable Housing Opportunities, Working to make the County a Carbon Neutral Organization and Prioritze Long Term Fiscal Stability.  

We’ve managed to make progress on all the above goals and are updating those for 2021 and beyond. In addition we developed a mission statement: The San Miguel County Board of Commissioners works to ensure our residents are healthy and flourishing and that our communities are safe and vibrant by: Providing essential community services, Practicing responsible stewardship of our environment, Prioritizing long-term fiscal stability, and Partnering with others to enhance the quality of life in San Miguel County and the region.


Alongside the work outlined here Kris Holstrom also owns a consulting endeavor called Productive Properties, offering permaculture, garden, greenhouse and farm design services. Past projects include designing a food production system to feed 20 on a portion of a large cattle ranch, converting a former farm homestead now held by a land trust into a community farm and education center near Crested Butte, and a low water use landscape for a new green built home. Kris has designed greenhouses and greenhouse interiors for several Growing Dome Greenhouses. She works with schools to design and build cold frames and gardens and helped start and oversee four community gardens and one school greenhouse.

KrisHolstromBioPicsKris serves as Board President of SWIRL -the Southwest Institute for Resilience (formerly Tomten Institute). She co-founded this non-profit with Norwood resident, Carolyn Mountel, Iron Springs Mesa resident, Cheryl Miller and Telluride resident, Salli Russell. SWIRL is dedicated to teaching healthy sustainable living skills, including organic farming, gardening and organic waste recycling. SWIRL is the fiscal agent and supporter of the Telluride Farmers’ Market, regional community gardens and greenhouses including Telluride, Ridgway, Norwood gardens and Ophir greenhouse.  The School Greens project, which was completed in 2011, provided in-school lighted growing systems to provide salad greens and sprouts for the school lunch programs and classroom support.  Kris created a mobile growing platform ‘Truck Farm’ for the 2011 Mountain Film.

KrisConferenceAdditional projects include revitalizing the Telluride Mushroom Festival in collaboration with the Telluride Institute, promoting composting and vermiculture and holding workshops on a wide variety of gardening topics. Kris’ work experience includes event management, grant writing, budgeting, working with local governments, database and ticket sales management, interviewing and scheduling speakers, programming, managing a 5 employee non-profit, managing activities and hands-on demonstrations. Kris facilitates and hosts the twice yearly gatherings of the Southwest Colorado Food Alliance with western slope food and farming related non-profits.


Past Work:

Regional Sustainability Coordinator and Executive Director, EcoAction Partners, formerly The New Community Coalition.  The non-profit was fokris_holstrom_telluride_coloradormed in 2007 to further efforts at regional sustainability with initial and on-going funding from the Town of Telluride, Mountain Village and San Miguel County. Additional funds have come from San Miguel Power Association, the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office, the Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment, the Telluride Foundation, the Anschutz Family Foundation and the Faraway Foundation. Duties included overseeing employees and contract laborers working in energy efficiency and renewable energy, GEO rebate coordination, green building, resource recovery and recycling including zero waste goals, food security and local food promotion, sustainable economy efforts and education in all those areas. Kris attended meetings, organized events, created budgets, wrote grants and press releases. She helped organize community groups to address above issues and worked with local, regional and state personnel and organizations on collaborative efforts throughout the region.

5/2005 – 12/2006
Director of Sustainability – Telluride Institute – Part-time position with varied duties including sustainability event organization, presentations on various aspects of sustainability, classroom education and curriculum development, (units on trash and energy in Spring 2006), liaison with environmental organizations within San Miguel watershed and surrounding regions. Directed Ideas Festival – Sustainability Now! in October 2005. Basic bookkeeping duties using Quick Books for Non-Profits, budget preparation and grant writing, working under Board of Directors.

9/2004 – 4/2005
Executive Assistant,  BIOTA Brands of America, Inc. Involved in all aspects of start-up water business using the world’s first biodegradable plastic bottle made from a 100% renewable resource, corn. Wrote ad copy, designed ads, acted as liaison with environmental organizations and conducted general office duties in a high stress setting while working with financial realities of a main street business.

1982 – 2004
avatar.jpg.320x320pxVaried positions including: legal secretary for San Miguel County Attorney, Admin. Asst, Telluride Regional Airport Authority, Admin. Asst. for Gaitways, a local physical therapy research and education company, legal secretary for Georgia Pacific in Atlanta, assistant garden center manager, Blacksburg, Virginia, secretary for Management & Marketing Department at Virginia Tech, waitressing, working on a dairy farm, operating a timber mill, conducting hydrologic studies for the Forest Service, researching air pollution drift, involving sampling and ultra-clean lab techniques in Virginia.

Additional Training:

  • Keyline Design Workshop, Veteran’s Homestead Project, Breen, CO with Owen Hablutzel, April 2016
  • Holistic Management, Intro to Whole Farm Planning, Holistic Management Institute. Training for agricultural educators. Currently enrolled.
  • Farm Succession Planning, International Farm Transition Network training, March, 2014.
  • An Introduction to the US Food System: Perspectives from Public Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, completed March, 2014.
  • Collaborative Leader training, through Healing Leaders, Cortez, CO, 2010.
  • International Society for Sustainability Professionals – 2007-2013. Completed courses include: Sustainable Community Development: Economic Recovery 101 using LASER – Local Action for Sustainable Economic Renewal. Previously completed class entitled Sustainability Planning and Reporting (SPARK) training. Also participated in Indicators, Systems, Innovation, Strategy (ISIS) with Alan AtKisson 12/08
  • ZERI Certification training – June, 2005. ZERI – Zero Emissions Research Initiatives. Training with Gunther Pauli, ZERI founder, encompasses systems design for sustainability using the five kingdoms of nature and the five emotional intelligences to create sustainable businesses and networks with zero waste as a goal, through connecting and enhancing environmental, social and economic elements.
  • Leadership for Sustainability – 10/28 & 29, 2004. Two days exploring ways to create leaders in business, government and society who embrace sustainability as a positive path to a prosperous future.
  • Fungi Perfecti –Nov. 2002 and  June 2004 – Basic Mushroom Growing Techniques and Mycoremediation Techniques. Two intensive weekend workshops with Paul Stamets exploring ways of using fungi to remediate toxic and degraded environments.
  • Permaculture Design Certification– 1989. A two week intensive course in “permanent culture” design – creating landscapes for humans that incorporate sustainable food growing, solar design for energy efficiency and intelligent and ethical design for living in harmony with the environment.

EcoActionPartners2Sampling of Conferences attended:

  • SW Water Conservation District meeting, April 1, 2016
  • Montrose Food and Farm Forum, January 2016
  • New Mexico Organic Farming Conference, February 2016
  • Soil Not Oil Conference, Oakland, CA Sept. 2015
  • Quivira Coalition Conference, Albuquerque, NM, Nov. 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011
  • Food Systems Coalition Summit, Denver, CO, Feb. 2014
  • Slow Money Conference, Boulder, CO, March 2013, 2014, 2015
  • Rocky Mountain Land Use Institute, Presenter, March, 2013
  • Slow Money Conference, Santa Fe, NM, Sept. 2009
  • ARE Day Aspen (American Renewable Energy), August 2009
  • Colorado Association for Recycling, May 2009, Vail, Colorado (on panel with students)
  • Green Festival, May 2009, Denver, Colorado (with a group of students)
  • Governor’s Energy Office – New Energy Economy: The Path Forward – A Local Focus, Oct. 2008
  • ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability Local Action Summit  – May, 2008 – Albuquerque, NM
  • BALLE – Business Alliance for Local Living Economy, May 2007, Berkeley, California
  • Community Solution’s 3rd annual Peak Oil Conference, Sept. 2006, Yellow Springs, Ohio
  • Women Leading Sustainability, April 2006, Portland, Oregon – by invitation only
  • Southwest Marketing Network – April 2006, Grand Junction, Colorado, attendee and presenter
  • Telluride Institute Ideas Festival/Beaming Bioneers – Sustainability Now – Director, October, 2005
  • New Mexico Organic Farming Conference – attendee and presenter 1996-2004, 2014

Sampling of Presentations given/Classes taught:

  • 734701_10153356578725678_903545971198181343_nIntro to Regenerative Agriculture, Montrose Food and Farm Forum, Jan. 2016
  • Intro to Urban Agriculture and Permaculture, UCSM, Telluride, CO – Jan, 2014
  • Permaculture Design Certificate course – University Centers. of the San Miguel, co-teacher, college level course – July 2010, 2011, 2012, and through SWIRL 2013, 2014, 2015 and scheduled for 2016
  • Growing Mushrooms on Straw and Permaculture Fungal Installations – Telluride Mushroom Festival, August 2012, 2014, 2015
  • Urban Permaculture w/Institute of Awesomeness – co-teacher, 8/12 & 13, 2011 – Montrose, CO
  • Uncompahgre Valley Association meeting – presented on local foods – Fall 2010
  • Sustainability 101 – UCSM, teacher, college level course – July 2010
  • Sustainability Intensive at Telluride High School – two week course – April, 2009 and Fall 2010
  • Intro to Sustainability, UCSM, teacher, college level course – March 2009
  • Small Acreage Management School, CSU Extension, presenter – Season Extension techniques – November 16, 2006
  • Wilkinson Library – The Perfect Storm – Peak Oil and Global Warming: a report from Yellow Springs – Oct. 2006
  • TomtenFarmPic1ZERI and Systems Design, Biomimicry – Telluride MS, Colin Hubbard’s Eighth Grade Class – Spring 2006, 2005
  • Arbor Day Celebration in Town Park – May 2006, 2005
  • Sustainable Slopes Presentation, Telluride Ski Area, February, 2005
  • Earth Day – Telluride Elementary – Solar power and solar cooking – 2003
  • Earth Day – Telluride Elementary – Bottled water and plastic recycling issues – 2004
  • Organic Economy/Sustainable Economy – 2005 with Pamela Zoline
  • New Mexico Organic Gardening & Farming Expo – Presenter – Feb., 2002, “Ripples from The Pond – Educational Opportunities for Farm Folk”
  • Introduction to Permaculture Workshop – 2002
  • Water Catchment & Composting Toilet Workshop – 2001
  • Planning Your Summer Garden (with CSU Extension) – 2001
  • Radishes in the Snow – High Altitude Greenhouse Design Workshop – 2000

Other Local Experience and Projects:

  • Kris-Holstrom500Advisory Board – Telluride Farmers’ Market
  • Organizer – Telluride Area Creative Team (TACT) – a citizens group convening to create affordable housing solutions
  • Member (past or present): Regional Economic Futures Task Force, San Miguel County Recycling Task Force, Green Building Task Force, Sustainability Alliance of Southwest Colorado (Durango-based group)
  • Board of Directors/Secretary- Painted Sky, regional Resource Conservation & Development non-profit
  • Former bi-weekly columnist A Growing Concern  in local newspaper, The Telluride Daily Planet
  • Former co-editor for Mountainfreak Magazine
  • Contributor to Edible Magazine of the San Juan region, Permaculture Activist, Natural Highs magazine.
  • Edited – Palo Alto Zero Waste Strategic Plan – collaboration with Gary Liss & Associates