The Cesar Chavez Organic Gardening Project with the I Have A Dream Foundation “Dreamers” was a great success. Our group camped out for three gorgeous evenings at Sunrise Farm, just west of Loveland, CO on a secluded hillside above their organic farm and living community. The campsite was complete with ponderosa pines, prickly pear cacti, and an area called the “moon rocks,” providing a perfect setting for the trip, which focused on practicing wilderness skills, learning about organic farming, and the life Cesar Chavez.
The folks at Sunrise were great hosts and intrigued us with discussion around the ecological importance of sustainable agriculture. They really got us thinking about the amount of pollution, water, and fossil fuel that it takes to maintain our current industrialized agricultural paradigm. Seeing their way of farming provided our group with a hopeful perspective on the complex issue of modern food production.
In return for their hospitality and teaching we spent about 35 total ‘people hours’ planting and harvesting herbs and vegetables in their permaculture garden where we learned experientially about this unique form of agriculture where virtually nothing is wasted!
When we weren’t working side-by-side with the farmers we practiced survival skills such as natural shelter making, various fire-building techniques, and sensory awareness activities near our wooded hillside above the farm. Not only may these skills help save our lives someday, they also are super fun to practice and helped us strengthen our connection to the outdoors we want to help protect and preserve.
At night we cooked delicious dinners together and used our newly acquired fire-building skills to create a fire where we had rich discussions about the life and legacy of Cesar Chavez, including his core values of acceptance of all people, importance of service to others, and the value of hard work, as well as the impact he had as an organizer for the farm-workers of the United States Southwest.
To check out a slide show of the project, Click Here.
A special thanks goes out to our partners for this project, including: Rigo Tostado and Jen Doyle from I Have A Dream Foundation for rallying a group of amazing students to work with, Kristin Maharg and Brandon Jones our Cottonwood Institute Instructors for facilitating a great course, and Patrick Padden at Sunrise Farm for teaching us about organic farming and sustainable agriculture. This project would not be possible without support from our funders, including: Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County Expanding Leadership Initiative, Mile Hi Foods, New Belgium Brewing Company, and Whole Foods Market.
“The act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown, is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth.” ~Francis Moore Lappe
After much discussion and deliberation about their Action Project, “Winter” Community Adventure Program (CAP) students at New Vista High School chose to research food miles and the importance of growing food locally. Students decided to prepare and repair the existing garden for the 2010 growing season, which was originally created by spring 2009 CAP students, and they decided to build a tool-shed for garden tools and other supplies.
In order to put their plan into action, students collaborated with several different community members and organizations. They volunteered at Growing Gardens in exchange for fencing, mulch, and seedlings. They connected with Patrick Padden of Sunrise Ranch to learn about permaculture gardening techniques and how to apply them in their garden. To build the tool-shed, students researched building plans, looked at other tool-sheds for ideas, and procured the materials they needed to build the tool shed. By the end of the quarter, everyone learned a great deal about how to grow food locally.
“This class has opened my mind to the possibility that one person can make a difference and that doing small things still has an effect. I also realized that high school students have a strong voice and people will listen to you if you use it. Before this class I thought of myself as educated about the environment and now I have even more knowledge and ability to make a change in my lifestyle.” Liam Dodd.
This Action Project could not have been completed without the time, dedication, and inspiring willingness of parent volunteer Jon Hall, who is a carpenter. Jon volunteered 8 + hours of time to help us create a tool-shed and teach students about building throughout the process. Many thanks to all the incredible community members who are always willing to help students make their Action Projects a success.