Another great meeting!

We had a wonderful meeting tonight at the Garden. 25 community members showed up, we had nachos at my mom’s house, got a temporary roof on the shed, got two bee hives set up, and of course enjoyed the fire and s’mores! Thank you all so much for your continued belief in this initiative.

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Listen to our interview on KRZA, our local community radio!

Tune in to KRZA – 88.7 FM tomorrow (April 17th) at 8 AM for our interview about the amazingly beautiful things we’re up to down here in Antonito! You can also listen online here: KRZA.

Saturday Night Champe Jelly & Candles

Here’s a question I’ve been getting a lot lately: How do you feel being back in Antonito, living in such a small, rural community again? To tell you the truth, I love it! I’ve got a thousand things going on, the weather is wonderful, I keep meeting really inspiring people, and I envision such a wonderful, promising future for our beautiful little town here in the southern end of the San Luis Valley!

So if I’m not inspiring kids to become better readers over at Guadalupe Elementary, driving the ambulance for Conejos County EMS or writing grants for the Antonito School & Community Garden, how am I spending my Saturday nights in such a small place where (supposedly) nothing’s going on? Well, here’s some photos to show you what trouble I’ve been getting myself into lately:

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I’ve got the money if you’ve got the time

Holy cow! So much has been going on over here in this small, cozy town of Antonito, Colorado! I’ve been running in circles getting the Save the Children Afterschool Literacy and Healthy Choices Program going at Guadalupe Elementary, and I’m happy to report a successful first three weeks of the program with stable enrollment numbers.

In my spare time, I’ve been busy learning how to farm out at Cactus Hill Farm. I’m so thankful for the opportunity I’ve got to learn from the wonderful, inspiring people around me. It’s looking like we’ll have some bees this summer as well, fingers crossed.

On another note, I’m happy to report that we were awarded our first grant EVER today! Woohoo! 😀 A huge THANK YOU goes out to the Annie’s Grants for Gardens program! I’m so grateful and encouraged by the fact that people see this initiative as a worthy cause to support. I’m just going to keep trucking along with my great-grandmother Lucy Jaramillo’s voice in the back of my head: poco a poco se anda lejos!

Merci, Annie!

P.S. We’re planning a seed drive at South Conejos Schools to see what kinds of heirloom seeds we can gather from our community. We’ll incorporate it into our science classes so that the kids can look into identifying the seeds as well, after which we can move on to planting the seeds indoors in order to get some seedlings going for the garden this summer.

Updates and a recent revelation

Loads has been happening ever since I returned to the sunny, beautiful San Luis Valley here in southern Colorado. I left Germany about a month ago, although it seems like an eternity has passed since I left that second home of mine. A lot of people ask if I’ve had trouble adjusting to life back here in the small town of Antonito, but it actually hasn’t been too bad. I’m so grateful to have landed a job with the local elementary school as their afterschool program coordinator for a literacy and healthy choices program through Save the Children. And the best part of it all is that I can walk to work! That’s definitely one thing I learned during my stays in Germany. I’ve also been able to spend an abundance of time with family from El Paso, Seattle, Yuma, and of course the majestic San Luis Valley. (And just so you’re all aware, I’m the proudest uncle in the world with this cute baby niece of mine!)

I’ve been fairly busy applying for a few grants to get the edible schoolyard / school garden going. South Conejos Schools has been generous in their support of my idea for which I’m extremely thankful. They’ve offered to give me at least 1,000 sq feet to get the garden going; however, when I mentioned it, they asked if I didn’t think that was a bit small! 😀 I just laughed and said I’d also be happy with more. Ha! One of my grant profiles can be found here: South Conejos School Garden.

On another note, Judy Crisco over at SLV Junction was generous enough to publish a page for me on her site here. Thank you, Judy!

To add to all of the exciting things that have been going on over here in my neck of the woods, Liza Marron from the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition invited me to share my ideas at their regular meeting this past Friday. I jumped on this amazing opportunity even though I was extremely nervous to be presenting in front of so many amazing and inspiring minds from so many different walks of life. The presentation went really well, and I was thrilled to see how much support I’m going to have from people all around this magical Valley. I left that room full of energy and ready to create an abundance of positive change down here in Antonito, Colorado.

After that meeting, I had a serendipitous lunch date with Karen Lemke who will be helping me along with my vision in becoming a beekeeper of sorts. I’ll be joining her workshop next weekend where I’m sure I’ll leave with a plethora of knowledge about bees and how to become friends with them. I can’t wait!

Today, I spent the morning and early afternoon learning how to milk goats over in Capulin with Elena. Elena started a farm out there not too long ago called Cactus Hill Farm. I had so much fun with those goats today. You know, I’m not much of a milk drinker, but this goat milk sure is delicious! I just love doing new things and expanding my horizon like this. There are so many amazing things to learn and do in the places we call home. Elena has agreed to teach me a thing or two in the coming months. Some of our projects include: hoop house construction, knocking down some walls, candle making, spinning wool, tractor driving, and so much more. Looks like I’ll be making a trip to buy me some overalls next week! 😀

Here’s some evidence of me practicing my baking skills. My students at the Alfred-Wegener-Institute in Bremerhaven gave me a German bread cookbook before I left. I decided to get a rye sourdough starter going and baked my first rye sourdough bread this evening. I’m impressed with how beautiful it turned out. That’s fresh goat milk that you see to the left of the fresh loaf.

imageSo I was floating in that pleasant state between consciousness and sleep the other night in bed when a revelation came to me. When I initially got this blog going, I somehow came up with the name Valley Bound and thought it was quite fitting seeing that I was on my way back to my roots in the San Luis Valley. Now that I’m here, however, I’m slowly starting to think that I might also be Valley Bound in a different sense, in the sense that my roots have now started to thrive and take hold here in this creative place nestled in the grand Rocky Mountains. I’m not sure what I’ve gotten myself into, but it sure does feel right, and if feelings are the language of the soul, then that’s what I’m sticking to.

From Seoul to Berlin

It’s been a week since I got back from my trip to South Korea. Mr. Jet Lag came for a visit for a few days but has finally said goodbye. I think that’s the only disadvantage to traveling. Well, then again, I guess the other tough bit is leaving pieces of your heart all over the place, but that’s another story for another day.

I spent the weekend in Berlin with a dear friend of mine and managed to swing by Pinke Panke, a really neat children’s farm there. It’s really inspiring seeing so many projects like this around Germany. Each one is so unique, which makes me want to hurry up and see what my whole vision is going to look like! 🙂

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Here’s a house that the children built. Isn’t that impressive!?

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Every farm that I’ve visited has had a fire pit. That’s definitely a must. I mean, who doesn’t like s’mores and Stockbrot?

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I’m sure those busy bees love these lovely flowers and nasturtiums! Nasturtiums are so delicious!

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Some type of oven is something I’ve seen on all of the farms as well. Who’s up for some delicious homemade breads?

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I’ll be heading to Verden next week to visit another farm there as well. Stay tuned! 😀