Farm to School

Guidestone Partners with Salida Boys & Girls Club for Garden Club & Youth Farmers Market!

Each year, Guidestone partners with the Salida Boys & Girls Club and Salida School District to host Garden Club at the Salida Middle School Garden. This year, Garden Club was organized by two Americorps members, Leah Capezio (CSU Extension, 4-H STEM) and Ronni Vitullo (Guidestone, VISTA), and Guidestone’s Farm to School Director, Kayla Maddox.

Each Wednesday morning, youth from the Boys and Girls Club were offered the opportunity to spend an hour at the garden, learning about the many things that go into growing vegetables – from soil, seeds, flowers and pollinators, and that other essential ingredient – fun! Each week the youth walked with us from the club the garden, usually leaving a trail of bubbles as they go, thanks to Leah! But Leah’s contributions to Garden Club went way beyond the bubbles she gives the kids each week. Leah is a Master Gardener and educator extraordinaire who has formed solid relationships with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club. In fact, one club participant, Amelie, told us that Leah was her main inspiration for coming! Just one sweet example of the power of relationships in community building and education.

Through these partnerships, we have been creating an engaging curriculum for the Garden Club, by outlining topics, curriculum and activities. For example, one Wednesday, the youth engaged in building little pollinator habitats to place around the garden. They thought about the needs of pollinators and gathered up materials from around the garden. Some of the youth coming back each week looked forward to checking on the habitats and fixing them up each time. But it seems they get even more excited about…. harvesting! It’s possible you’ve never seen a child so excited to eat greens!

Each week we also set aside time to talk and reflect. We spent time observing changes in the garden, reflecting on lessons and what fun we had. Memories are documented in our garden journal which you can see here: GARDEN JOURNAL.

Although school has started and Garden Club at the middle school has wrapped up, Guidestone continues to work with youth at the Boys and Girls Club to host the Youth Farmers Market. You’ll find the farm stand by the entrance to the Boys & Girls Club each Friday in September from 4-5:15pm.

We’re grateful for the continued engagement of kids at the Boys & Girls Club and hope to see you at the farm stand this month!

Colorado Proud School Meal Day- A local and statewide celebration of Farm to School!

Guidestone  celebrated Colorado Proud School Meal Day with the Salida School District….highlighting locally grown produce served at lunch at the Elementary and Middle Schools and offering a healthy after school snack from the Salida School Gardens!  We are so grateful to Seasons Cafe for hosting our Colorado Proud Day- Farm to School fundraiser dinner and to El Regalo Ranch, Hutchinson Ranch, Little Red Hen Bakery, Vino Salida, and Elevation Beer Company for making the four-course, seasonally inspired menu so amazing!  We had a great turn out, building community and conversation around local healthy food and future generations.  We raised over $1,000 for Farm to School.   We asked Shaina Knight of the Colorado Department of Agriculture to share some thoughts about the origin of Colorado Proud School Meal Day and celebrations throughout the state.  Please read her blog post below to learn more!

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Colorado Proud School Meal Day
By Shaina Knight, Colorado Department of Agriculture

Governor John Hickenlooper  proclaimed September 30, 2015, as Colorado Proud School Meal Day. This statewide event encouraged schools to incorporate Colorado products into their meals, to celebrate Colorado agriculture and to educate students about healthy eating.

We have more than 100,000 students that participated in this year’s event from every corner of the state. Not only does this celebration encourage conversations with students about food and agriculture, but it also exposes them to new tastes and a wide variety of local products.

It is estimated that over 600 schools will be sourcing locally grown, raised, or procced items this year. Some examples of items served this year will be peach cobbler, an entirely locally sourced burrito bar, beef bolognaise with Colorado Proud Gnocchi, tomato and cucumber salad and a pepper slaw.

This celebration received added support this year and/or free materials offered from organizations such as the Colorado Department of Education, Colorado Foundation for Agriculture, The Colorado Farm to School Task Force, The Western Dairy Association, Slow Food Denver, CSU Extension Colorado 4-H Youth Development, The Colorado Egg Producers, The Colorado Farm Bureau, LiveWell Colorado and the Colorado Beef Council.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture and our schools rely heavily on our partnerships and the resources they offer statewide. Farm to school takes effort from all involved because schools are connecting with agriculture in a variety of ways; from sourcing local ingredients, to gaining support from their administration to break ground on a school garden and of course using agriculture as a teaching tool and topic in the classroom.

The ability to offer new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) based materials to classrooms this year has been a fantastic addition and I am quite pleased to help associate such fantastic skillsets with the agriculture industry.

A noted 341 classrooms spoke about agriculture on Colorado Proud School Meal Day. Fourteen selected schools were paired with an agricultural expert, who spoke to a selected classroom of students reaching towns such as Yuma, Delta, Campo, Flagler, Castle Rock, Lafayette, Pueblo and Fort Collins. It is amazing and encouraging to witness people willing take the steps needed for the benefit of our economy and youth. This day encompasses the very nature of bringing community together with agriculture.
Shaina Knight
Business Development Specialist
Colorado Department of Agriculture
Shaina.Knight@state.co.us
303-869-9176

Colorado Proud, created by the Colorado Department of Agriculture in 1999, promotes locally grown, raised or processed products to consumers statewide. Currently, the program has more than 2,000 members which include growers, processors, restaurants, retailers and associations. For more information, visit www.coloradoproud.org or contact Shaina Knight at (303) 869-9176.

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Seasons Cafe Hosts Colorado Proud Day Dinner on September 30th!

 

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Proceeds Support Farm To School!

Salida, Colorado: Join Seasons Cafe and Guidestone Colorado on September 30th (6-9pm) for a four-course, seasonally inspired dinner featuring food from local producers including the Salida School Gardens!  Tickets are on sale through September 28th.  Purchase your tickets now!

Julie Kimbrough and Kristofer Sackett-Williams, Co-Owners of Seasons Cafe, expressed the following statement in why they are supporting Farm to School.  “We think that the Farm to School Initiative is very important to the future of food in this country.  Educating the younger generations about how food is grown and where it comes from is imperative to the future of food sourcing and food security in this country.  Exposing them to the difference in how food tastes straight from the ground or tree educates them on how enjoyable fresh food can be and might inspire them to be the next generation of great food producers or chefs…or just help to keep them healthier and happier in whatever they pursue!”.

Guidestone currently works with the Salida School District, LiveWell Chaffee County and other community partners to develop and implement education gardens at the Salida Middle School and Longfellow Elementary School as well as a four-acre production farm site on Holman Ave. Highlights of this effort include:

  • Growing over 10,000 lbs of produce since 2012 for the school district, youth farmers market, and other community markets.
  • Providing garden field trips and service learning experiences for hundreds of students throughout the Salida School District.
  • Supporting teachers and district staff in integrating the garden with core curriculum and food service.

Guidestone Colorado is a 501C3, non-profit organization that is growing the next generation of farmers and ranchers for a vibrant local food economy in Colorado.  Guidestone serves the communities of  Arkansas River Valley through education, community building and partnerships.  For more information about Guidestone or the Farm to School Initiative, please visit www.GuidestoneColorado.org.

Welcome Taylor! Farm to School Initiative Summer Intern

Taylor Rapke is honored to be joining Guidestone’s Farm to School Initiative as the Farm to School Production Intern this summer!

Taylor Farm to School InternGrowing up south of the Adirondack Mountains in New York, Taylor has always loved being in the great outdoors.  This love carried her to the University of Vermont, where she majored in elementary education and pursued concentrations in environmental studies and Spanish. During her first year as a second grade teacher in Lake County, CO a proud moment for Taylor was being able to incorporate her vision for a more sustainable food system by creating a classroom compost and seeing the positive student engagement that came as a result.  She is thrilled to be able to combine her passion for local, healthy foods and education as a Farm to School Initiative Intern.

Last spring, she learned organic gardening skills as a WWOOF volunteer for two months in New Zealand and is looking forward to honing those skills in the garden this summer!  In her free time, you can find Taylor hiking in Colorado’s beautiful wilderness, hula hooping, or attending a concert!

Adopt a Fruit Tree! Salida School Gardens Fundraiser

Guidestone Colorado hosts Fruit Tree Planting and Fundraiser at the Salida School Gardens: Holman Farm Site on Saturday May 30th from 10am-2pm.

Celebrate spring, community, and good food and help us plant and expand the fruit tree orchard at the Salida School Gardens: Holman Farm Site on Saturday May 30th from 10am-2pm!   We are seeking individuals, families, businesses, and other organizations to adopt a tree by helping to cover the cost of purchase and maintenance of these trees over time. This is a great opportunity to invest in a community project that will literally bear fruit for years and years to come!

Adopt-a-Tree – levels are:

apples farm to school logoGreen adopter: $25 (prepares the soil for the orchard!)
Bronze adopter: $75 (helps to purchase and plant the trees!)
Silver adopter: $125 (adopts a tree for the 2015 season)
Gold adopter: $250 (adopts the orchard for the 2015 season)
Platinum adopter: $500 (adopts the orchard and garden for 2015)
Garden Sustainer: $1,000 (supports the Garden and capacity building for the Farm to School Initiative)

You can participate in the adoption by clicking HERE or by joining on site at the event.

 

We will be planting apple, plum, apricot, and pear trees! Whether you sponsor or not, we would still love your help in preparing and planting them! Refreshments and kids activities will be provided during the event.

The Fruit Tree Planting & Fundraiser event will also be your chance to meet an inspiring group of young people devoting two weeks of their time in service to Salida with Guidestone Colorado. Through a partnership with the Conservation Legacy AmeriCorps VISTA Program, Guidestone Colorado 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 Farm Site and the Hutchinson Homestead & Learning Center on Hwy. 50.

We hope you’ll join us on May 30 for the Fruit Tree Planting & Fundraiser from 10am-2pm! The Salida School Gardens, Holman Farm Site is located on Holman Ave. in Salida by the soccer fields and dog park.

Contact Margaret Fitch, Director, Farm to School Initiative at margaret@guidestonecolorado.org or Jennifer Visitacion, Executive Director of Guidestone Colorado at jennifer@guidestonecolorado.org or call 719.239.0955 for more information.