Back to School

As the school year starts, Guidestone’s education programs expand to include both field experiences and classroom-based work, partnering with teachers in the Salida School District, and this year we’ll be building on some of the exciting work we began last year.

Guidestone had the privilege to partner with with an amazing team during the second semester of last school year to bring the “Food for Thought” curriculum, developed by Cathy Schmelter of An Ounce of Nutrition, to Salida High School. “Food for Thought” highlights the value of eating healthy in all aspects from personal health to the economic and environmental benefits of local foods. The idea for the curriculum emerged when Schmelter realized the dearth of nutrition education materials for youth, and that some real physical consequences of this were manifesting as diseases, like diabetes, in children that had previously only been seen in adults.

After a successful pilot year in Denver schools in 2012, LiveWell Colorado recognized the need for nutrition education in rural parts of the state, such as Chaffee County where childhood obesity rates are 6% above state average, and funded the pilot of “Food for Thought” in 5 high schools across Colorado, which included Salida High School. Education Director Andrea Earley Coen and Farm to School Program Manager Margaret Fitch worked every week with Deb Bass’ senior English course English through Sustainability both in the classroom and the Salida School Garden on Holman Ave. Guidestone is thrilled to have been a part of this opportunity to work with Cathy, Deb and her students, and to have this unique, comprehensive curriculum for  use in future youth education programs.

While “Food for Thought” won’t be taught this semester in English through Sustainability our partnership with Bass’ class will continue. Gunnar Paulsen, Guidestone’s AmeriCorps VISTA, will work with students to market the Garden to Cafeteria Project through news pieces, radio stories, video blogs, and social media. So keep your eyes and ears peeled! The purpose of that work will be to help high school students learn about sustainability and environmental stewardship while honing communication skills that will serve them well throughout their professional lives.

AgriCorps at Salida School Gardens – Holman Site




At the Salida School Gardens – Holman Site, AgriCorps is in their fourth week of hard work at the garden, and oh what they’ve accomplished! A program of SCC, Agricorps brings groups of three youth ages 14-18 together to gain practical and experiential knowledge of local agriculture, as well as learning about the business side of such operations. So far the crew has certainly done that. Each Friday for the past three weeks they have been busy transplanting broccoli, lettuce, kale, chard, squash, herbs and other starts to their permanent home. Not only that, they have prepped the garden for that planting by weeding new beds and wheeling barrow after barrow of topsoil to the new row beds in the southeast section of the garden. I think most people would agree that sounds like a pretty good summer job! Learn more here.


Soon the garden will be ready for a first summer harvest, primarily leafy greens. Look for those at Ploughboy in Salida, and also directly from the farm at the first Farmstand on July 26 from 10am-3pm, which will be at the Holman site!

Guidestone is thrilled to have the AgriCorps members, and their fearless leader Sheena, working at the Salida School Garden this summer. Their hard work will ensure a plentiful harvest this fall, which in turn means local school cafeterias will be flush with delicious, beautiful bounty come the return of school.


If anyone wants to know more about this program, drop-in volunteer hours on Fridays, or any other way to get involved at the Salida School Garden, contact Margaret Fitch, our triumphant Garden Manager at 802.274.2870 or

Upcoming Events in the Garden to Cafeteria Garden!

Community Work Day

Date: Friday, May 24th
Time: 9am-12pm
Location: Garden to Cafeteria garden, Holman Ave. (by the soccer fields)

The growing season is upon us, and the garden to cafeteria garden on Holman could use some helping hands to get it ready for spring planting!  We are hoping for about 10 adults and teens to help with some heavy lifting projects to haul soil and construct raised beds.

If you’re interested in joining us, please RSVP to Margaret Fitch:, or (802)274-2870

Salida School Gardens Open House

Date: Friday, May 31st
Time: 1-4pm

Come celebrate the beginning of summer with us at the Salida School Gardens Open house at the school garden on Holman Ave. the afternoon of May 31st!  E-mail Margaret Fitch for more details:

The Salida School Gardens Program Under Way!

This summer we’ve been breaking ground and getting the The Salida School Gardens-Garden to Cafeteria Program under way! The program is a collaborative effort between LiveWell Chaffee County, Salida School District, Guidestone and the Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) to support the growing and eating of local, healthy foods in district cafeterias. Working in partnership with the established Salida Middle School Garden, this program will supply fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables for the school meal program and utilize the garden as a context and location for environmental and agricultural education.

With the immense help of many community hands during four volunteer days and two SCC service days we now have a quarter acre garden on school property on Holman Ave; complete with ten straw bale raised garden beds, ten fruit trees, a pumpkin patch, eight in ground beds, a gourd tunnel and winding pea trellises throughout the site. School district staff will receive and process the harvest and use it this fall in the school meal program. Produce will also be sold through local and youth farmer’s markets to help sustain the operations and management of the garden program, and partners will continue to raise funds to expand the project beyond the current site for future years.

In addition to garden development Guidestone is working closely with the Salida School District to create an education program that will integrate the garden and garden-based lesson plans into curriculum grades pre-k- 12. Guidestone has conducted the first teacher professional development training and is working on additional opportunities for teachers in the fall.

Perhaps as thrilling as the garden itself is the energy, generosity and collaboration from the community and partners to make this garden program a reality. It would not be the same without such comprehensive effort from such a wide variety of supporters. We are all excited to watch the garden grow and to see many more community faces enjoying fresh produce and building a healthy food program for the school district.

For more information about future volunteer opportunities or questions in general about the program, please contact Margaret at

Community Volunteer and Education Opportunities

What a vibrant community we live in! Check out these opportunities coming up in the next week.

Southwest Conservation Corps Volunteer Days
Friday, April 20, 9am-12pm and 12pm-3pm

The Southwest Conservation Corps has several upcoming volunteer opportunities that we thought you might be interested in. We are launching a new gardening and agriculture program and need your help prepping new garden sites in Salida.

On Friday, April 20th we will kick off Earth Day weekend with a ground-breaking service day at the SCC office. Please join us for a half or full day of project work to install fencing, build raise beds, plant seeds and help promote local food production and sustainability in our community! The morning session will run from 9am-noon and the afternoon session will run from 12pm-3pm. Participants should wear long-pants, sturdy shoes, and warm layers. Don’t forget to bring a water bottle and lunch if you plan to stay all day. The event is open to all ages: kids under 12 must be accompanied by an adult and all participants/parents of minors will need to sign a volunteer waiver.

Our office is located at 701 E. Highway 50, just west of the Hampton Inn. Please contact Tyler Lincoln with any questions at or 719-539-2438.

Can’t make it this week? We also have Friday service days scheduled for April 27th and May 4th – same time and place!

Thanks for your support and we hope to see you Friday!

Learn How to Plan and Install Drip Irrigation!
Hosted by Old Town Farm, Howard
Saturday, April 21 10am-12pm

Drip irrigation makes the most sense for watering garden and landscape plants in our dry climate. Come see and get hands on with the drip irrigation system at our farm in Howard. Comprehensive class covers planning a drip system as well as installation and

Class starts at 10 AM sharp across the street from Howard Hall. Cost is $15 per class, scholarships are available. Email or call Jonathan at 719-530-1249 for more information.

Additional upcoming Old Town Farm classes:
April 28th – Floating row cover and other plant protection strategies
May 5th – Keeping backyard chickens is easy and fun
May 12th – Know your enemy: All about weeds, wildlife and bugs
May 19th – Why won’t my tomatoes ripen? Success with warm season crops in a cool climate

Agriculture Tax Class
Hosted by Kurt M. Jones, Chaffee County Extension Director
Tuesday, April 24, 6pm-8pm

Colorado State University Extension in Chaffee County will be offering an Agriculture Tax Class for area producers and tax professionals on Tuesday, April 24 from 6:00 until 8:00 at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds. The cost for this class will be $15.

Topics for the class include overview of income taxes, farm income and expenses, common IRS tax forms and schedules used by farmers & ranchers, Farm income vs. other income and how to treat each source, what are deductible farm expenses, record keeping for farmers/ranchers, important dates and additional resources.

The course will be taught by CSU Agriculture and Business Management specialist Jeff Tranel. Pre-registration is required by calling 719-539-6447. Space is limited to the first 40 people. If someone requires accommodation, please let us know at least 5 business days in advance.