Five Reasons You Need to Start a Garden

Stress relief, fitness, food — gardening just might be the perfect hobby. It gives you a reason to get outside, offers endless learning opportunities, and at the end of it all, you get to enjoy delicious food, gorgeous flowers, and aromatic herbs. Best of all, it’s a hobby you can do in your own backyard with little more than a few seed packets, water, and sunshine. Not convinced? Here are five additional reasons to start a garden:
1. You’ll Get in Shape
Gardening may not be strenuous aerobic activity, but it’s a near-daily hobby that gets you up and moving when you might otherwise be sitting on the couch. When you’re sowing seeds, picking weeds, and amending soil, you’re performing dynamic movements that keep your whole body limber and strong. For younger adults, it’s the perfect complement to the high-intensity exercise you get at the gym or on the trail. For older adults, it’s a wonderful way to improve balance and refine motor function for an active and independent senior years.
2. You’ll Expand Your Palate
If you’re a picky eater wishing for reform, vegetable gardening is the activity for you. It’s been shown that growing and cooking their own food makes children twice as likely to try new foods, and it stands to reason that gardening can help adults shift their palate, too.

Most of us don’t think twice about passing up a grocery store vegetable that we don’t care for. But when you nurture a plant from a seedling, giving it food, water, and watching it grow into a vibrant, verdant plant, not eating it suddenly seems like a tragic waste. Since you’re invested in the food you grow yourself, you find ways to make use of it. And while you might not like everything at first, odds are, it will grow on you. You may even find yourself amazed at just how much better homegrown produce tastes when it’s picked at peak ripeness and delivered to your plate within hours.
3. You’ll Eat Better
The big benefit of evolving your tastes? You’ll start eating better. Whether it’s a plethora of kale or a bumper crop of summer squash, growing a garden means a glut of veggies waiting to be eaten. Before you know it, your dinner plate will grow more colorful, changing every week as fruits and vegetables come in and out of season. And who can order a pizza when there’s a mile-high pile of tomatoes and peppers begging to be eaten?

Not only will your veggie consumption improve, but the vegetables you eat may even be more nutritious than store-bought fare. When food has a short trip from plant to plate, it doesn’t lose as many nutrients as conventional produce that’s picked early and shipped long distances.
4. You’ll Feel More Connected
Gardening is more than a hobby, a way to pass the time. It’s a means of deepening your connection with the environment and your community. When you spend time digging in the soil and watching the weather, you become more in tune with your local biome. You discover a new appreciation for rain, for resilient roots, and for the worms and bugs giving your soil life.

It’s also an excellent way to connect with your local community. Between sharing produce, swapping seeds, and attending gardening workshops, you’ll find a wealth of community knowledge surrounding gardening.
5. You’ll Be Happier
More than nature and community, gardening helps you connect with yourself. The peaceful, repetitive nature of many gardening tasks makes this hobby wonderfully meditative, and the effects are without question: Working in the garden reduces stress, improves focus, and simply makes you feel happier.

Even more amazing? Soil is home to a natural bacteria that reduces your anxiety every time you breathe it in. Mycobacterium vaccae stimulates the body’s production of serotonin, so it can be an especially great activity for those with mental health disorders and those in recovery, and it actually improves overall mental health.

Article by, Maria Cannon

Fall and Winter at Valleybound!

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!  

 

 

 

 

Welcome to the Garden!

KIMG0346  Welcome to the Garden!  This summer has been full of new and exciting events and activities.  We had volunteer groups from Upward Bound come out and help us start a new composting station and a hugelkultur mound (a permaculture upward bounddesign made from old logs, plant debris and soil).  hugel hugelkul Our first community event happened on May 20th at our Garden Kick off where we had lots of food fun and started planting our first seeds.  Thanks to so many community volunteers we were able to plant more than 3/4 of the garden with donated seeds,transplants, and cover crops. During our first work day we started painting some new signs with help from two youth volunteers. sign Just a little later in the season we started working on something big! Something so incredibly big it will require the entire community to give their input to come to a conclusion.  I am speaking of the SLV Inspire Initiative.  This is a project involving the entire San Luis Valley with Antonito as one of the 7 “Hubs” or central locations.  That means, with some luck and hard work, we would be able to access some incredible funding to increase our youth access to the outdoors. Which by the way is currently only seven minutes a day according to recent studies.  This project would make it easier for our community to access the outdoors with new pathways, facilities and playing areas.  To begin this process we hosted a community BBQ to start the conversation and invite anyone to give their input on what would make the great outdoors more accessible. KIMG0383We started new mulching methods to retain moisture and thanks to the rainy weather we have been very successful at conserving water. garden To close our the summer we held a brand new program, the Valleybound Health and Leadership Youth Camp.  This was a four day camp for youth members ages 9-18.  We had a great group of young leaders and each of these wonderful participants received some pretty great gifts along with the knowledge they learned on this camp.  Every participant got a journal, yoga mat, backpack, water bottle, first aid kit, wild foraging book, shopping bag, garden kit and medals won during the final competition, “The Garden Olympics.”youthcamp youthcampinAll in all it has been a great season with more to come as we enter the heart of harvest time.  We are currently having community work nights on Tuesdays from 6-8pm AND Fridays from 2-7pm.  Feel free to stop on by and see what we have growing.  rainbowBut beware, we might try to send you home with a bag of free vegetables 😉

Thank you for such a wonderful summer!

Abe Rosenberg

Garden Educator

Valleybound Antonito School and Community Garden

Only 10 days left…Can you help us out?

We’ve got 10 days and counting to win the $600 People’s Choice Award for our garden program! All we’ve got to do is be the garden with the most amount of supporters by December 16th!

Right now we are in 3rd place, so we need your help! Can you help us out with $10 to meet our goal of having the most amount of supporters in 10 days? This is an investment you are making in our children, youth and community as a whole.

If you can help us out, please click on this link and donate online: I support Valleybound!

Photo Credit: Joe Mahoney

Can you help us out? $400 in 30 days for a $400 match!

Dear friends,

We hope this note finds you well. We’ve got a quick ask of you. Can you help us raise $400 in the next 30 days for Valleybound, the Antonito School & Community Garden? If we are one of the first 75 gardens to raise $400, we will automatically receive a match of $400!

top of shedWe are in desperate need of this money to repair our tool shed. Our current tool shed is in disrepair. We have a tarp on the rotting roof that is partially holding the water out, on top of which we also have planks and tires to hold the tarp down. Now for the winter, we have all of the tools gathered together under another tarp to keep them dry. This money will bring us one step closer to our goal.

Can you help us out? If so, you can donate here: Seed Money Campaign

Thank you so much for your continued support! Would you also consider forwarding this email onto your friends and families who might also be able to lend us a hand?

Muchas gracias!
Your friends at Valleybound

Sunshine in the golden leaves is all around

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Wow! What a busy summer it turned out to be! The garden is now easing its way into a deep slumber for our harsh Rocky Mountain winters here in the San Luis Valley. The produce has all been harvested, including quinoa that we’re not quite sure how to process, but we’ll get there. 😉 All of the tomatoes were picked and eaten up, made into pasta sauce and donated to the Antonito Senior Citizen’s Center. Our purple potatoes were a major hit – so many children and adults in our community had never seen purple potatoes before, so they were a real treat! The Antonito Senior Citizen’s Center also received a nice goodie bag filled with purple and white potatoes. It was wonderful being able to include them in our harvest, even though many of them were not able to make it out to the garden.

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On top of all of the lovely harvest, we also sponsored the PUMPKIN PATCH over at South Conejos Schools for grades K-6. We didn’t plant Jack-o-lanterns in our garden, but tasked the Valley Roots Food Hub with sourcing 120 pumpkins for us, which they did in a heartbeat! All of the pumpkins were organic and from local farmers. We set up our pumpkin patch in the playground, and it really reminded me of Easter and really big eggs! 😀 The kids were so excited to be taking home a pumpkin for Halloween, and grateful they were as well!

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We also recently were invited out to Devon Peña’s house and farm out near San Luis, Colorado. He has been doing wonderful work to restore seeds to their heirloom conditions. He shared bolita beans and beautiful corn varieties with us – we can’t wait to get them in the ground next year!

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Thank you to everyone who made this first summer of gardening such a success! It couldn’t have been done without the countless hours of support from children, youth and adults alike! Here’s to making a dream come true!

Fresh from the garden into the school

We had an exciting day over here at Valleybound, the Antonito School and Community Garden! We sponsored today’s salad bar for K-12 at South Conejos Schools right here in Antonito, Colorado. It was wonderful seeing so many beautiful, green salads on the kids’  and teachers’ trays today. I am so proud of our community and children for coming together and creating such a magical space that promotes healthy lifestyles and community building.

After lunch, I was surprised by two classes in the elementary wing asking for a tour of the garden! So off we headed to the old rodeo grounds and explored the green, luscious garden. The students asked so many questions, admired the most beautiful sunflower in the universe, touched and gawked at the cute little pumpkin and calabacitas, and gathered around the fire pit asking when we’d be doing s’mores! This is the sort of experiential education that I love and am honored to be a part of. Here’s to a bright future!

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Fantastic Farmers Markets!

Why, hello there! Thanks for checkout out our page and all of the wonderful things we are getting ourselves into. The past few weeks have been very busy for us with school starting up again, selling at the Conejos County Farmers Market, weekly gardening sessions on Sundays at 5 and harvesting produce for the salad bar at South Conejos Schools! As the season is beginning to wind down — even though it doesn’t feel like that at all — I feel the need to express my gratitude for the generous and supportive community of Antonito and beyond! It has been a wholesome summer of gardening, bringing my dream to fruition, and for this I will always be grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Enjoy these photos from the Market yesterday! Our kids are the best and wonderful entrepreneurs!

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First Farmers Market = Success!

Today was an exciting day! Three teenagers from the area met me at the garden to harvest as much as we could for the Conejos County Farmers Market that was being held today in Manassa, Colorado. We harvested heirloom beets, heirloom radishes, chives, horseradish leaves, spinach, rainbow chard, Anaheim Peppers, Banana Peppers and green and yellow squash! I am impressed at how much we were able to harvest and even more impressed that we sold out today! It was a really great day, as you can tell from the photos below. I am so grateful for all of the adults and teens who came out today to support the garden and our dream of keeping our children and youth connected to the Earth. See you next week at the market in La Jara, Colorado!

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S’moreos tonight at 6 pm!

Yes, this is happening tonight at 6 PM at the Valleybound – Antonito School & Community Garden. S’MOREOS! Come join us for some harvesting, storytelling, weeding and fun around the fire!

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