VALLEY — With freezing weather looming, more than 11 schools and hundreds of kids in the San Luis Valley were able to participate in the 2017 San Luis Valley School Pumpkin Patch, finding their very own special pumpkins for autumn.
During the final week of September, farmer Jared Myers of Allied Potato Company Colorado generously opened his pumpkin patch for schools in partnership with the Rio Grande Watershed Conservation Education Initiative (RGWCEI). Schools from across the Valley attended the pumpkin patch, including Crestone Charter School, Creede Elementary, Mountain Valley Schools, Centennial School, multiple Head Starts, Monte Vista Special Needs, Alamosa Elementary, Del Norte Elementary, Center Elementary, and many others.
The time spent picking pumpkins at the patch made for a great opportunity to get the children outside and curious about where not only pumpkins, but other types of fruits and vegetables come from and the process of growing them. The patch, located in Center, is nestled between the road and working farmland. Allowing students time to let their imaginations wander in the outdoors increases the likelihood that they will begin asking questions about the environment, which is a great segue into environmental education in schools.
With community members like Jared Myers, nonprofit organizations like RGWCEI are able to help support large quantities of youth in getting outside and having fun.
The pumpkin patch not only promoted getting outside and being active for the youth, but demonstrated the benefits to parents who attended as well. Myers opened the pumpkin patch on the following Saturday for all community members, inviting parents and children to pick as an entire family after all of the scheduled schools had chosen their pumpkins that week.
Inviting school children to the pumpkin patch is an annual event coordinated by RGWCEI and farmers in the area. Typically, the patch is hosted by Lawrence Ortega at his family farm. Unfortunately, due to some greedy gophers consuming Ortega’s pumpkins seeds not once, but twice during planting, Jared Myers graciously stepped in to help out the kids in the Valley.
School groups not on the contact list for this year that would like to join RGWCEI for next year, please email Bethany Howell at [email protected] For more information about the Rio Grande Watershed Conservation & Education Initiative, which facilitates K-12 conservation activities throughout the SLV, please visit www.rgwcei.org.