ALAMOSA — More than 55 community members gathered to honor outstanding volunteers and partners at the 2017 Valley Educational Gardens Initiative (VEGI) Kick-Off.
VEGI, a garden educational program of La Puente, kicked off its growing season by recognizing “prominent community members who have helped grow our gardens and our programs” for their contributions. Honorees including Luette Frost, the gardens’ first volunteer back in 2002, Alamosa Elementary principals Lori Smith and Christy McBee who welcome more than 270 annual garden lessons each school year, Garden-in-a-box recipients, members of La Puente’s Veteran’s Program who grow food in the Shelter GrowDome, and local community leaders who volunteer, contribute, and help mold the impactful and important work VEGI does in the SLV.
For those who haven’t had a chance to learn much about VEGI, venture on down to what used to be an old parking lot on the corner of State and 11th, and discover a transformed terrain. A lot of hard work and dedication went into that community garden space. VEGI serves a need in the Valley because of high rates of hunger and food insecurity in this region as well as the lost skill of growing food. VEGI strives to provide fresh produce to those in need and to offer a grassroots approach through offering educational programming for local community members, focused on youth.
Within the past year, on less than two acres of land, VEGI grew more than 1,200 pounds of fresh produce all of which was donated to the shelter, food bank, and elementary school cafeteria. When young minds see where their food comes from and are a part of the growing process from seed to harvest, they eat more nutritious foods and take better care for their environment.
These efforts wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers and donors who give their time, money, and insight. VEGI also recognizes those who planted the first seeds of the program, who maintain garden spaces for themselves, their families, and their communities, partners who include garden programming in their work, and people who are open to learning a skill while contributing a service. This mutual benefit is the essence of the Garden-in-a-box program that has provided more than 50 local families with locally constructed garden boxes, soil, seeds and seedlings, and mentorship and support over the last decade. It is with a spirit of collaboration and willingness that these gardens are able to thrive every season.
The community is invited to take part this season. Whether at Boyd Community Garden Nights Tuesdays 5-7 p.m. starting May 2nd, or through supporting educational efforts, VEGI is grateful to those who leave their legacy and those who continue to carry the mission forward.
Top: VEGI Director Claudia Ebel is shown with garden volunteer Raymond and AmeriCorps volunteer Afum.