Guidestone’s 9th Annual Pumpkin Patch A Success!

On behalf of Guidestone’s Staff and Board of Directors, we would like to extend a resounding thank you to 24111149082_59672d38b4_meveryone in the community who participated in our 9th Annual Pumpkin Patch & Harvest Festival, the weekend of October 9-11.  Gorgeous weather set the stage for a fantastic weekend of fun activities, and an amazing turn out of festival-goers of all ages. We are grateful to all the attendees, volunteers, sponsors and partners that helped make the weekend a success!

After all of the planning leading up to the event, it is always so exciting to finally open up the gates and watch the weekend unfold.  Highlights of the event stand out to me through a variety of sensory images.

Some of my favorites include:

~The chug of Dennis Fischer’s old John Deere tractor coming and going from the entrance areas, and the jingle of bells on the draft horse team’s harness.  These both add a quaintness and beauty to the surrounding landscape that evoke an agricultural lifestyle, and are icon’s of our agricultural heritage.

~The beauty of the site itself!  Sunlight brightening the contrasting colors of golden Cottonwood trees against blue sky, bright orange pumpkins against the yellow-green of pasture grass, and the South Arkansas River flowing by it all.  The Hutchinson Ranch is a gem of agricultural open space, and we are so grateful to the Hutchinson Family for sharing their ranch with the community through this event.

~The sights and sounds of a community celebrating the season together.  The laughter of children in the maze, the smiles on freshly-painted cheeks, parental cheers as children try to catch that apple on a string (‘No hands, Mom!’), toes tapping to live music, the neigh of a pony with a bright-eyed youngster on its back, the smell of fresh-pressed apples and warm apple cider, the warmth of volunteers as they share the event with attendees young and old, a child endeavoring to carry a pumpkin much too big for their little arms.

These are just snippets of images that combined, all weave together to create a beautiful harvest festival tapestry!

The Pumpkin Patch & Harvest Festival is Guidestone’s largest fundraiser of the year. Proceeds from the Pumpkin Patch support the delivery of education programs, continued preservation efforts, and general operations of the Hutchinson Homestead and Learning Center, Guidestone’s homebase of operations.

Thank you again to all of the sponsors, donors, and volunteers who support the event.  And a special thanks to all of this year’s attendees – we couldn’t do it without you!



NCCC is Here!

Through a partnership with the Conservation Legacy AmeriCorps VISTA Program, Guidestone Colorado has been awarded and will host an AmeriCorps NCCC Team May 17 – June 2. Comprised of nine young adults between the ages of 18-24, the Team will be volunteering their labor to two community sites in Salida that Guidestone Colorado manages: the Salida School Gardens, Holman Ave. Site and the Hutchinson Homestead & Learning Center on Hwy. 50.

The Team will assist Guidestone Colorado in preparing those two sites for the coming season. At the Salida School Garden, Holman Ave. Site they will be assisting with planting produce, expanding the growing area, and assisting with the fruit tree orchard expansion. At the Hutchinson Homestead & Learning Center the Team will assist in preparing the grounds and conducting maintenance on the historic buildings in preparations for summer tours and Farmhands Education Programs offered through Guidestone Colorado.

Would you like to meet this amazing group of individuals who are serving our community? Join us May 30 from 10am-2pm for the Adopt a Fruit Tree Salida School Gardens Fundraiser!


RMFU’s “Cooperative Leadership Camp” offers fun and learning in the mountains this summer!

Looking for a great opportunity for the little ones (ages 7-18)? It’s all at Rocky Mountain Farmers Union‘s Cooperative Leadership Camps!

RMFU’s legendary (60 years running!) Cooperative Leadership Camps are traditional in the sense that they offer hiking, crafts, cooperative games, etc., but where they stand apart is that they send campers home with some type of newfound knowledge that they might not necessarily learn about in school or through other venues. Then at the end of camp campers go on a field trip to give hands-on experience incorporating the theme/topic!

This is a great opportunity for Farmhands Education Program kids who are ready to graduate to an overnight experience but still craving the kinds of hands-on agricultural fun of a Farmhands program!

But more importantly to the kids, is that they are allowed to be kids for a few days—with silly skits and crazy games! Please check out the camp registration packet that is attached HERE. You can also find info on our website at All camps take place at the National Farmers Union Education Center in Bailey, CO. There are bus options for campers, as well as carpooling. Please call or email Jennifer Luitjens Bahr, Director of Education at or tel:303-752-5800 if you have questions!

Register for camp by May 28th to avoid a $25 late fee! 

RMFU campers

Farmhands Summer Program Registration Deadline extended to May 15-Scholarships Available!

Greetings Farmhands Families-

As the days grow warmer and the land begins to green up, our thoughts turn to summer! Our summer Farmhands programs begin in less than a month, with Moonstone Farm Camp kicking off the season from June 1-4. We are excited about this year’s line-up of programs and have some exciting news to share.
In order to make our programs more accessible to more families we have decided to extend our early bird deadline to May 15. We are incredibly pleased because this year we are able to offer some scholarship funds due to the generous donation from Pinon Vacation Rentals and Lawton Eddy. Thank you so much Lawton for this amazing gesture! If you would like to apply for a scholarship please click HERE:
This year both Andrea Coen and Karen Fortier will be lead instructors for our programs. We will also be joined by our Farmhands intern Riley Ceglowski. It is sure to be a fun, interactive, adventurous, and engaging, summer for all involved!

See you out on the ranch or farm soon!


Karen Fortier

Director, Farmhands Education Programs

Colorado Building Farmers Advanced Course offered in Chaffee County this April.

Kurt Jones, Chaffee County CSU Extension Agent

Deadline to register April 3rd!

Kurt Jones and the Chaffee County CSU Extension office is offering the Colorado Building Farmers Advanced Course on Tuesday evenings in April from 5:30-9:00pm at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds.

This great offering builds off the Colorado Building Farmers Beginning Course led by Kurt Jones each of the last two winters and offers a similar format; professionals join class participants for a delicious dinner and social time and then lead the evening’s class on their topic of choice.

The offerings and presenters will include Agriculture Business Leadership and Resiliency on April 7th with James Pritchett, Assistant Vice President for Engagement at Colorado State University; Agritourism Opportunities on April 14th with Kelli Hepler of the Colorado Agritourism Association; on April 21st several local producers will discuss leasing land from a tenants and owners perspective, and what defines success in local agriculture; April 28th will focus on Advanced Risk Management (Insurance, Workmans Comp., Employees, Agricultural Taxes and Audit Risks) with Justin Storm of State Farm Insurance and Rachel Walke, CPA at Walke and Associates.

Cost for these programs is $30 each or $100 for the whole series. Pricing includes dinners and course handouts. See the 2015 Advanced Registration form & 2015 Chaffee County Colorado Building Farmers Advanced Schedule for registration and more info or contact the office at 719.539.6447 or

Kurt Jones’ other offerings this spring include Vegetable Gardening and Extending the Growing Season on April 27th from 6:00-9:30pm and Introduction to Drip Irrigation for the Home Garden on May 2nd from 9:00-11:30am, sure to be great classes as well!

Keep your eye out for the “In the Garden” column in the Mountain Mail to keep tabs on all the offerings from Kurt Jones and your local Chaffee County Extension Office.