Sensory Overload or Sensory Poverty?

Guidestone Board Member Judie Anders shared these insights after teaching one of our Junior Rancher classes…

A friend passed this article to me that was published this week in the NYTimes. I feel it gets to the root of why the Farmhands Program is such an important part of Guidestone’s work.
Are We Living in Sensory Overload or Sensory Poverty? – NYTimes.co​m

I want to share my reply to my friend with you:

“The further we distance ourselves from the spell of the present, explored by our senses, the harder it will be to understand and protect nature’s precarious balance, let alone the balance of our own human nature.”

I had the opportunity to teach a Farmhands Class yesterday to 16 youngsters age 7 – 10 at Hutchinson Homestead, an historic 1800’s homestead and 7th generation working Ranch located in Salida, CO. I taught Communication with Ranch Animals – Knowing how to take care of the animals on a ranch is one of the most important skills a rancher needs to have! Spend the day with Judie Anders (aka Farmer Judie) learning how animals communicate…

We hiked through irrigated fields to observe cows and their calves grazing, getting wet and muddy in the process along with seeing the diversity of plant life and wild flowers in the meadow. We observed a bird nest with eggs in it hidden in the tall meadow grass; we drew pictures of a Mama Cow ready to give birth and discussed how to tell if she is really close or not, getting manure on our shoes and clothes as we wrote and drew in Observation Journals we created in the morning. We played, ate, and sat under the shade of an old apple tree enjoying each other.

“learning about the world… experiencing it up close, right here, right now, in all its messy, majestic, riotous detail.”

Ahhh, the sometimes uncomfortable and smelly richness in which life thrives.

Ecological Literacy



Guidestone is dedicated to strengthening the local food economy through preserving agricultural resources and educating for ecological literacy.



The Upper Arkansas River Valley is a remarkable place in which to live! Within its awe inspiring landscape of mountains, canyons and river valleys, a number of meaningful organizations have taken root. These thriving organizations enhance the quality of life here and nourish us in countless ways through their work.

Recently I attended presentations put on by one such organization, The Collegiate Peaks Forum Series, whose mission is: to facilitate the intellectual enrichment of The Upper Arkansas Valley residents and their visitors by sponsoring events featuring nationally recognized persons schooled in philosophy, religion or science and hosting other community discussion activities”.

Great work! And a big thank you goes to them for the quality speakers we are continually treated to through their Lecture Series. Temple Grandin, one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world, spoke in two separate presentations: Animal Behavior and Autism (a condition Temple has lived with all her life). Last week Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow spoke at the SteamPlant Theater in Salida. Michael’s most recent book is Thank God for Evolution, and Connie’s book The Ghosts of Evolution was on the list of Amazon’s top recommended science books for a number of months.

I had the opportunity to spend time with Michael and Connie in beautiful Chalk Creek Canyon discussing ecological wonders such as the Chalk Cliffs, moraines in the valley, our natural hot springs, bats and local fauna and flora. It was their first time to visit this area. Their enjoyment and enthusiasm for the natural world is contagious, and through their study and understanding of nature and science, they share a link with Guidestone in this appreciation of ecological literacy.

To be ecologically literate is to understand the basic languages “spoken” by Earth, which are easy to see in natural settings. And it requires more than intellectual understanding. It is to become aware at the deepest level of your consciousness that we share the same story. And, since Earth’s story is one chapter in the universe story, you learn to experience yourself in the unfolding drama of the universe. Ecological literacy focuses on process and story and its curriculum is transdisciplinary and experiential. Thomas Berry, earth scholar, author and teacher, devoted much of his life to understanding our place as humans in the whole of the Universe Story, which for him became a mythic and mystical, as well as scientific, narrative. He asserts that, “Earth’s story is our story. We are a product of the universe and in us the universe is becoming conscious of itself…” The Sacred Universe, Thomas Berry.

One of my favorite quotes by Berry is “The universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects.” Farmers, and those who live close to the land, understand this and know that human economy is inseparable from earth’s own economy. To be truly successful at any endeavor is to live in this larger context.



By Judie Anders, Guidestone Board Member

Farmhands Summer Season Begins June 8!

Hey all you parents and fun-loving kids out there! Our 2010 Farmhands summer season is about to kick off with Farm Camp, June 8-10, up in Buena Vista. Check out our schedule below for more details about programs happening all summer long both in BV and in Salida!


Join Farmhands Education staff for one or many of these fun, hands-on learning opportunities. Designed for children ages 5 and up, all programs are interactive, educational, and exciting opportunities to experience a working farm or ranch, meet the resident animals, assist with projects and explore the surrounding natural habitat. Teaching locations include Weathervane Farm and Cottonwood Creek Dairy at The Meadows in Buena Vista and the historic Hutchinson Homestead in Salida.


Pre-registration is required for all programs. Please contact Farmhands Director Andrea Earley Coen at (970)309-3175 or email FarmhandsED@gmail.com to register or for more information.

The Meadows, Buena Vista:


Farm Camp
Ages: 5 and up Dates: June 8-10, July 6-8, July 27-29
Times: 9am-3pm each day
Cost: $120 per camp/ 10% discount if you register for all three
Join Farmhands for this unique and exceptionally fun 3-day program. Each day begins with farm chores and a snack. Then it really gets exciting! Days will be filled with teambuilding, nature exploration, aquatic ecology, farm projects, art, journaling, music and possibly even a hint of magic…. We will conclude the camp with a farm feast, harvested and prepared by the campers for their families.

The following programs meet from 9:00-12:00pm and cost $20 each. A farm-grown snack will be provided. Designed for ages 5 and up.


Nature Detectives
June 15 & July 22
Let’s put on our detective hats and go! Explore the woodlands and meadows surrounding Weathervane Farm to learn more about the wild animals that call this place home. Tracks, bones, eat marks and even scat will be our clues to unravel the mysteries of these animals’ homes and habits.

Junior Farmer
June 29
Don your overalls and come on out to the farm for a day of good-ole, down home farm work and fun. We will help work on some projects for Weathervane Farm, and the day will conclude with a special, tasty frozen treat thanks to the cows at Cottonwood Creek Dairy!

Diggin’ for Decomposers

July 20
Get ready to go hunting for the small and squirmy! Through exploration both on the farm and in the surrounding woodlands, learn how the creepiest, crawliest critters are the key to both a forest and our food.

Family Farm Days

Open to ALL ages – Great for families with children 4 and under!
Dates: June 26, July 10, July 24, Aug. 7 Times: 9-11:30am
Cost: $20 for a family of 4/$3 each additional person
Want to come to camp, too? Here’s your chance! Spend a morning on the farm with the whole family. Meet and feed the animals, tour the farm, assist in a farm project and create a farm-inspired craft to take home. A farm-grown snack will be provided, and you are invited to bring a picnic lunch and stay as long as you like!

Hutchinson Homestead, Salida:


Ranch Camp
Ages: 5 and up Dates: June 22-24, July 13-15, Aug. 3-5 Times: 9am-3pm each day
Cost: $120 per camp/ 10% discount if you register for all three
Spend three fun-filled days on a historic ranch! Each day will begin with ranch chores, and participants will get to assist in a variety of ranch projects, learn some animal husbandry skills, explore the pastures and creek, learn about the Hutchinson’s family and general ranching history and practice several traditional art skills, like spinning, candle making, butter making or making jam. There may even be a hint of magic that arises from the past…. The camp will conclude with a ranch-inspired feast and a square dance for campers and their families.

Farmhands Article in Chaffee County Times

The Chaffee County Times recently published this article about Guidestone’s Farmhands program:

“Being connected to the land is a way of life in the American West. Nowhere is this more evident than at Guidestone, a sustainable-farm project nonprofit organization. Its roots have been firmly planted in Colorado soil since 1992 with a dedication to creating a sustainable local food economy…”

Read Sustainable-farm project includes educational day camps here.

Life on a Farm!

By Judie Anders

Last week I was invited to attend a Farm Feast prepared by one of my favorite friends, Charlie, age 5. It was the completion of a three day Farm Camp experience for youngsters ages 5-7. We ate carrots, radishes, beets, cooked chard & kale all fresh picked from the garden, eggs from the chickens and homemade Ice Cream with wild harvested gooseberries on top made with creamy milk from the cows. It was delicious! What was even more enjoyable was seeing the shining faces of the children as they sang a song they made up about their farm experience about the cow Unbelievable who gave birth to a calf the night before including lots of laughter about the animals and how much fun it is to be on a farm.

Farming life is foreign to most of us even in this agricultural county, with fewer young people going into the farming and ranching lifestyle. I salute John Cogswell, owner of The Meadows, for hosting the programs and Weathervane Farm and Cottonwood Creek Dairy for allowing the plants and animals to be enthusiastically loved by these youngsters. The Farmhands Program is created and run by Guidestone, a non-profit educational organization that serves the Upper Arkansas River Valley of Colorado. Its goals are to Grow Farmers; To Connect people to the land and land to the people; and To Support and revitalize our local food economy and food culture. Andrea Earley Coen, a banjo playin “farmer” heads up each of the programs offered. Andrea has a degree in Geology and has taught middle school Science/Earth Science and designs the programs to meet Colorado State Science standards. She comes with 20 years of outdoor teaching experience in environmental education and an obvious love of the earth and the critters and kids (goats and human). If you’re a teacher looking for a fun field trip for your students, you might want to contact Farmhands about setting up a program that can both take place on the farm and meet CO State Science Standards.

I was very inspired by this program which introduces children in a practical grounded way to where their food comes from, how it is grown and how delicious fresh vegetables can be. There’s still time this summer to get in on the action. Here’s the info on upcoming events:
Join Farmhands Education for one or many of these fun, hands-on programs based at The Meadows at Cottonwood Creek in Buena Vista. Designed for children ages 5-11, all programs are interactive, educational, and exciting opportunities to experience a working farm, meet the farm animals, assist with farm projects and explore the surrounding natural habitat. Local producers Weathervane Farm and Cottonwood Creek Dairy provide the hands-on “classroom.”

JUNIOR FARMERS
July 28 – ages 5-7, 9:30-11:30am; July 29 – ages 8-11, 10am-2pm
Don your overalls and come on out to the farm for a day of good-ole, down home farm work and fun. We will help work on some projects for Weathervane Farm, and the day will conclude with a special, tasty frozen treat thanks to the cows at Cottonwood Creek Dairy!

FARM CAMP
Aug. 3rd-5th – ages 5-7
If a one-day program seems too short, come join us for this unique and exceptionally fun 3-day program. Each day begins with farm chores and a snack. Then it really gets exciting! Days will be filled with teambuilding, nature exploration, aquatic ecology, farm projects, art, journaling, music and possibly even a hint of magic…. We will conclude the camp with a farm feast, harvested and prepared by the campers for their families. Offered throughout the summer. We hope to see you there!

FAMILY FARM DAY
Aug. 1st 9-11:30am
Want to come to camp, too? Here’s your chance! Spend a morning on the farm with the whole family. Meet and feed the animals, tour the farm, assist in a farm project and create a farm-inspired craft to take home. A farm-grown snack will be provided. You are invited to bring a picnic lunch and stay as long as you like!

Pre-registration is required for all programs. Please contact Andrea Earley Coen at (970)309-3175 or pflower[at]sopris.net to register or for more information.