It’s time to start thinking about seeds, plant starts and prepping soil for this year’s production of fresh fruits and veggies for the Holman Avenue location of the Healthy Food, Healthy Growing – Garden to Cafeteria (GtoC) Program. This program is a collaborative effort with the Salida School District, Guidestone and LiveWell Chaffee County and aims to provide fresh, healthy produce and encourage healthy eating for the Salida school district’s meal program. In its first year of production in 2012, the Salida Middle School Garden and the Holman garden site yielded over 1,000 pounds of produce, a majority of which went into school meals and the expanded salad bars for Salida schools.
Partners have secured nearly $100,000 to support phase two of the program, to be implemented in 2013, which will include increasing garden infrastructure and expanding production. A key component to maximizing food production given our elevation and climate constraints is a structure that will extend the growing season and provide cover to grow early plant starts. To support this need, a 24×48 foot gable roof hoop house is being installed at the Holman garden site the week of March 11-15, 2013. This structure and a potential second hoop house, slated for installation the following year, will extend the growing season, increase yields and put more fresh fruits and vegetables onto the plates of Salida children.
Guidestone has also received funding to develop education programming around the garden and build upon the school district’s new health and sustainability standards. This comprehensive program aims not only to increase healthy foods in the school lunch program, but also to integrate nutrition and food-production concepts district-wide. In addition, Guidestone will be hosting volunteer days throughout the spring and summer to help with planting and harvesting, so look for those announcements and bring the kids to get hands-on experience bringing fresh produce from the ground to the table. You can find out more about these opportunities by visiting www.GuidestoneColorado.org.
For more information about the Garden to Cafeteria Program, please contact Lisa Malde, Director of LiveWell Chaffee County.