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: https://www.facebook.com/events/404044146430323/.

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,


Thank you Mr. Joseph Joubert

I’m currently reading Paul Auster’s Winter Journal and just came across a man by the name of Joubert. I was really touched by one of his quotes regarding death, so I decided to see what else I could find out about him. That’s when I came across these two lovely, little quotes:

All gardeners live in beautiful places because they make them so.


Ask the young. They know everything.

I can’t wait to create such beautiful places in the San Luis Valley, in my hometown of Antonito. And I will do my best to always listen to the young ones.


One of the places I call home

I’m currently in Berlin, loving the big city flair that’s all around. I really like the feeling, the vibe that this city gives off. There are so many different types of people living here, different cultures, different communities, each with a plethora of stories to tell. Walking around the city today, I tried to imagine where each person was from. Where does she feel at home? Does he have more than one home? Or do they even have a home? Are their roots still firmly planted in rich, life-giving soil somewhere? Or have they been uprooted, fighting for a space to call their home on this beautiful, blue planet we inhabit?

This is something I am.

THANKFUL for the places I can call HOME.

And this is one of those places:



San Luis Valley

San Luis Valley