Friends of Extension (FOX)
FOX is a non-profit organization that was organized in 2009 with the mission of raising money for the El Paso County CSU Extension Office. Funds raised by FOX supplement County, State and Federal support of the Extension programs which include: youth development through 4-H, agriculture through Colorado Building Farmers, horticulture through the Colorado Master Gardener program, and nutrition through the Food Safety Education program.
Until 2018, funds raised by FOX were managed through the Pikes Peak Community Foundation (PPCF). Starting in January 2018, FOX EPC, Inc. became an independent and duly authorized 501(c)(3) charitable organization. FOX is comprised of community volunteers who are also Colorado Master Gardeners, leaders of the El Paso County 4-H program, as well as garden tour enthusiasts.
According to the organization’s bylaws, the mission of FOX shall be:
….to support and promote horticultural, agricultural, food safety/nutrition, and youth development programs in El Paso County including, but not limited to, Colorado State University Extension in El Paso County, CO…and to encourage and increase community support, appreciation and participation in and of said programs.
The primary fundraising activity for FOX has become its annual garden tour. Since the tour’s inception in 2011, this popular event has been in various locations around Colorado Springs including Village Seven, the West Side, the Old North End, Patty Jewett and the Broadmoor. In 2018, the tour will focus on gardens in the North Central part of Colorado Springs.
The number of gardens involved each year has varied between six and ten per year, and attendance at the tour has grown from 105 to as many as 800 attendees. This tour has received high acclaim as reflected in this comment reported by Linda Navarro, Colorado Springs Gazette Reporter/Nonprofit event columnist: “Indeed, glowing reports from people who attended Through the Gardener’s Gate (the 2013 FOX tour) included comments that it was one of the finest tours in the country.”
Tour attendees observe various gardening practices including water conservation, xeriscaping, deer-resistant techniques and raising vegetables. Colorado Master Gardeners are available at each of the gardens to answer questions about plants and good gardening practices. As added attractions to the tour in some years, local Plein Air Garden Artists have been on site painting various aspects of the gardens, live music has been performed by local youth, and 4-H children have sold beverages and snacks to raise funds for their local clubs.