In 2010, Senate Bill 10-81 created the Colorado Farm-To-School Task Force in conjunction with the Farm to School Healthy Kids Act, and in 2013, the Assembly reauthorized the Task Force to continue their work of developing Farm-To-School (FTS) programs indefinitely. Colorado took a major step in establishing this act and Task Force by enabling communities to develop robust and self-sustaining agricultural programs that fully promote healthy foods at schools and the utilization of local farms and greenhouses in their meal service programs. This was a huge win in not only improving nutrition services for children, but also in strengthening local and regional economies through agriculture production.

Within the last five years, several FTS curriculums began emerging within Colorado school districts and supporting organizations. One organization that has developed a unique, high-altitude garden and supporting education program is trh Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center, located in Fairplay, Colorado. We began with a small, demonstration garden for students and are expanding to a year-round, sustainable production garden in partnership with local schools to increase a ‘green school’ ideology. This ideology teaches students to think ‘green’ – recycling, energy conservation, reuse, repurpose, and being responsible for making less of an environmental footprint. Students have participated in this program via local school districts in partnership with Beaver Ponds and through the local Boys and Girls Club. Most students have no idea where their food comes from and do not have the benefits of garden-based experiential learning. As the program expands, Beaver Ponds will be offering student designed cookbooks that include healthy recipes using edible foods grown at the elevated climates, a harvest of produce for school cafeterias, farmers markets, and donations to the local food bank.

Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center - Fairplay Colorado - Students
Beaver Ponds staff with students in Fairplay, Colorado. Photo courtesy of Beaver Ponds Environmental Education Center.

The educational opportunities will only expand as the Beaver Ponds program expands. Our plans include teaching students how to correctly store food at higher elevations and a implementing a school food stand that will allow for peer-to-peer education. Along with students, the local community has the opportunity to learn how to grow locally sourced and organic food despite challenging elements and a short grow season. As an environmental education center, Beaver Ponds actively pursues its mission to provide knowledge and the tools necessary to empower individuals to become better stewards of the earth. Good stewards are more likely to make positive choices to sustain their health and their environments, including growing and promoting nutritional and healthy food that the entire community can enjoy.

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We are driven by our deep respect for our environment, and our passionate commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. We believe in the right for everyone - from all backgrounds and cultures - to enjoy our natural world, and we believe that we must all do so responsibly. Learn More