The Artist’s Holiday Wish List

It can be hard to find inspiration for the perfect gift, especially if you’ve got an extra special person in your life who dabbles in the arts from time to time. But never fear, here are a few ideas on what the creative soul might have on his or her wish list this holiday season.

1. Adult coloring books. These allow you to unleash your inner child and are all the rave. The creative type will have endless fun coloring in the vast and difficult designs in any funny themed book. Don’t forget to get them the proper thin point utensils to use as well.
2. Art supplies. You can’t go wrong with sketchbooks, brushes, paints, pencils, or an easel.
3. Coffee or tea. Keep them fueled and inspired at their favorite coffee shop or get bags of beans and mugs they can use at home or on the go.
4. Music subscription. Gift them with a Spotify or Pandora subscription so they can listen to music endlessly and without commercials while they work on their artistic passion.
5. Photoshop. No matter the skill set, every photographer can benefit from a top notch editing software program like Photoshop. Thought it’s quite the investment, it will vastly change the quality of their photographs for the better.
6. Sewing supplies. If they’re a beginner, perhaps a sewing machine will be just the right thing to get them started. However, new needles and yarn to knit with are also helpful supplies to have handy.
7. Art. Go digging around your local art shops for a unique framed piece or cool coffee table book that will be the perfect addition to their collection.
8. Audiobook subscription. If they’re always on the go but looking for a good read to inspire them, a subscription to audibles would allow them to listen while they drive or do chores around the house.
9. Beeswax products. Whether it’s lip balm, lotion, candles, salves or even wood polish, consider putting together a basket of items made from local bees for your loved one. According to the Joybilee Farm, “beeswax is the only naturally occurring wax,” and you’d be surprised how many “things you can make with beeswax that can replace many of the toxic commercial products you may now be buying.”
10. Gardening supplies. Succulents make the perfect house plant and present, but beautifully painted pots for plants, or seeds, birdhouses, and garden signs are also thoughtful additions to any gardener’s sanctuary. HGTV also recommends garden stones as, “They’ll bring a decorative touch whether used to accent a garden landscape, create a garden pathway—or even artfully displayed along a patio or porch wall.”
11. A ukulele. Few things are more joyous than a new musical instrument one can learn to play and then share with others. Here’s a list of some of the best ukuleles you can buy.
12. Gift card. Give them the opportunity to pick out their own supplies at their favorite craft store, or purchase an airline certificate so they can travel somewhere they’ve always wanted to.
13. Lessons. Whether they’re into dance, photography, poetry, drawing, or pottery, gift them with a class so they can pick up a new skill or finally pursue a long lost hobby.
14. A Website. Give them the opportunity to share their work with the world by purchasing a domain name and or website hosting subscription. Opt for a user friendly program so they can easily design it themselves.

Consider also filling their stocking with things like cordless headphones, statement rings or bracelets, journals, a new phone case, concert tickets, fun socks and even stickers. No matter the gift, if it’s laced with an ounce of creativity and thought, your artsy loved one is sure to enjoy it.

Article by: Maria Cannon

Tips for a Weekend of Fall Yard Work and Gardening

Fall is suddenly upon us and you must act quickly in order to preserve the lawn hiding under the leaves, as well as all of your handiwork in the garden. Why not get the whole family together and knock it out in a single weekend?
Here’s what you need to do in order to transition your landscape in just a couple of days.
1. Mow your lawn one last time. But before you do, decide what to do with your leaves. You can either mow over them and use them as a natural fertilizer, or have the kids rake them up and turn them into compost for your garden.
2. Next you’ll need to aerate the lawn by poking holes so that it can breathe and receive all the nutrients it needs to survive the winter. This means that if you went with raking the leaves, you’ll need to pick up and spread a fertilizer over the lawn. Also consider over seeding your grass so that any bare spots are filled in
3. Clean the gutters. Use a ladder to climb up and clear the gutters of twigs and debris that have piled up from all those summer storms. This ensures they can bear the load if a heavy winter comes your way.
4. Empty and stow away all your hoses so they are safe from freezing temperatures.
Consider gathering the whole neighborhood and help each other with your lawns. Soon everyone’s yard will look tidy and you can celebrate with a BBQ or block party.
Set out to work on the garden one last time before spring so that later you can kick back and enjoy Sunday night football.
1. Check the Farmer’s Almanac to help you decide what to plant. The DIY Network says that fall is “the best time of year to plant any tree and /or shrub,” because “the soil is still warm enough for roots to actively grow and yet the demand on foliage growth is waning.” Vegetables are also a popular cool season planting choice that will provide you with fresh nutrients.
2. Now that most of the pants have become dormant, be sure to dig up any bulbs or store any tropical plants that won’t survive the temperature drops. You can also move and re-pot your plants as you see fit.
3. According to Popular Mechanics, you should “avoiding pruning in the fall” as it “helps protect the plants as they head into winter.”
4. Spread mulch or leaf compost in the beds of your garden to keep the soil warm throughout the colder months to come.
One weekend is probably all that you need to get your lawn and garden prepped and cold-weather ready. Remember, taking the time for maintenance before colder temps arrive ensures you’ll be able to hit the ground running come spring.


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

Cooking Matters Classes

Check out these photos from our new cooking class taking place weekly at Guadalupe Elementary in Antonito. Thanks to the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition and Cooking Matters, we are able to offer these classes to our community for free! This class is full, but be on the lookout for future classes!

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1st Planning Meeting

Put your thinking caps on and bring your creative minds to the table so we can start creating this beautiful space!

We’re meeting Monday, March 16th at 6:15 PM at Guadalupe Elementary in the cafeteria. I’ll bring some goodies for us to munch on; feel free to bring something delicious as well!

Here’s a link to the event’s page on Facebook:

Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns! Feel free to reach me at home as well: (719) 206-3331.

All my best,

Justin Garoutte

Photo on 12-15-13 at 4.22 PM

Korean Urban Gardening


So I’ve been here in 순창 (Sunchang), South Korea, for a few days now and am constantly surprised at how many different things are being cultivated throughout the city. Simply walking one or two blocks around here will lead you to stumble upon green onions, salad, persimmon trees, corn, chili, rice and more. It’s honestly quite difficult to find a plot of land here that’s not being used in some way or another. I talked to my dear friend Hannah about this, and she basically said that it’s absolutely necessary to utilize all of the land because they have to feed 50 million people on a piece of land a bit bigger than Maine. Seeing veggies growing all over the place, and each and every family doing it, is a tad bit inspiring for getting my project up and running with families throughout Antonito and Conejos County taking part.

Here’s a picture of some corn being grown right next to the sidewalk and in front of some public building:


And here’s a cute little chili pepper that I found growing next to the road (this area is famous for 고추장, Gochujang, a fermented red chili sauce):

I was heading out to hike the nearest mountain here in Sunchang and was walking on these cool rubber-coated sidewalks they have here. I’m glad I looked down at one point because there was a long tarp laid out with a ton of rice drying on it. Apparently this is something they do with most of their produce here. Yesterday I made a trip out to the Yellow Sea and saw a bunch of rice drying out in the emergency lane on the highway!


And here’s a little dose of inspiration. This pretty little guy’s got a ways to go before he gets to the top of the tree, but I’m sure he’s like, “Heck yes, I’m gonna climb this tree! There’s no stopping me now!”


Permaculture’s the way to go

I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately and stumbled across this really neat permaculture mandala. I’m unsure who drew this lovely piece of art, so if anyone knows, please let me know so I can properly credit it. 😉Permaculture MandalaThe more and more I learn about permaculture, the more I think it’s definitely the way to go and something I’d like to see my dream entwined with. Here’s to being a bit subversive and creating a whole bunch positive change through sustainable living! Who wants to join me?

My theme song

Friends, family and farmers!

I had a wonderful conversation today with Elena over at Cactus Hill Farm in Capulin, Colorado, and am feeling even more excited and inspired to get this project going. I’m actually quite overwhelmed with so much support. 🙂

On another note, I’d like to make an extra special announcement – I’ve got a theme song for the project! Thank you so much Jaz over at StudioJaz in Hamburg, Germany, for passing this on.

What do y’all think?

Back to the Earth by Jason Mraz


All my very best,