Happy New Year! It is now 2017, the year of the rooster AND the beginning of a new era at Valleybound Antonito School and Community Garden. We have been doing some great work in the school, at the garden, and throughout the San Luis Valley. I am delighted to share some very exciting news with you and give a little update on what we have been doing at Valleybound and Conejos Clean Water.
First lets go back to the fall harvest season. This year we harvested HUNDREDS of pounds of produce including tomatoes, potatoes, kale, lettuce, radishes, squash, herbs, beets, and cauliflower which were shared amongst the school cafeteria, garden volunteers and community members with about 80% going directly back into the school. South Conejos School District has been such a wonderful partner, and together, we are working to maximize the garden produce used in the cafeteria. We will be strategically planting new crops that better serve the school and will coordinate what the cafeteria staff is making with what we are growing. Our goal is to have over 50% of produce used by the school coming from the garden. Thanks to the staff and volunteers working so hard to make this possible!
To wrap up the season and share the harvest with the community, held our first annual Harvest Party! This was a spectacular event where we had local foods, live music, games, a live donation auction and free giveaways to all who attended. We were able to raise money for the garden while feeding our community with the fruits of our labor. This annual event will be one to remember so make sure to come to our next harvest party in 2017!
At the harvest party, we were able to share some information with the community about our plans for the SLV Inspire project which we are a part of. This is the most exciting news of all so please take note!!! Valleybound is now officially a HUB for SLV Inspire which means we will be using some very substantial funding from Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to help increase youth access to the outdoors. We were chosen along with Creede, and Saguache HUBS to start building and developing programs that make it easier and more exciting for youth to spend time outside. The three hubs were awarded $1 MILLION DOLLARS to make this a reality. If you want to know more about GOCO or the SLV Inspire coalition here are some links! GOCO SLV INSPIRE
What is that going to look like for Valleybound and Conejos County???? This funding will help us build a new Outdoor Education Center at the Valleybound Garden where we can have classes, workshops, community events and more! The Education Center will also include a gear library where we will house all sorts of outdoor recreational gear such as backpacks, tents, snow shoes etc. The gear library will also be associated with the new Valleybound Adventure Program where we will sign up youth and families for trips, hikes and all sorts of outdoor activities in our region. We will provide transportation, education, planning and gear to help make anyone feel at home with nature. The GOCO funding also will help us pay for student interns and job opportunities for youth who wish to expand their experience in the field of outdoor recreation or sustainable agriculture. You can help us reach these goals by donating or volunteering for Valleybound and Conejos Clean Water.
This experience has been so exciting and we have made so many new friends from across the state along the way. Thank you GOCO and Thank you SLV INSPIRE!!!!!
We also were featured in the Colorado Health Foundation’s Report Card which featured our work and showcased some of our permaculture students in the photo above. This article is available online if you wish to read it CLICK HERE!
The permaculture class began with a group of energetic 7th graders at South Conejos School. This is our pilot class designed to get students into the garden and start learning about sustainable agriculture. Eventually this curriculum will include all classes k-12 integrating what they will be learning in regular classes with garden education. For example: students can learn about life cycles in science class and then get some hands on experience in the garden and see what these life cycles look like in real life. This is just one way we can bring the classroom outdoors and help build memorable and enjoyable educational experiences to every classroom.
Some other things we have done this fall and winter are the Get Out the Vote Campaign, Opt Outside, and Giving Tuesday. We are always finding new ways to connect with our community and with nature. Also feel free to become a part of the movement! Help us continue this important work by donating to CCW or Valleybound. CLICK HERE
You can also get involved by volunteering or organizing a work group with us! Here is a pic from a group of Adams State students to helped us beautify the garden for ASU cares day.
Thank you for taking the time to read about our organization and programs. Your support keeps us going and together we can make the world a better place. Below you will see a short video that shows just how excited youth can be about spending time outdoors and in the school garden. Thank you again for your support!