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High School Spring Experiences: Farming and Gardening| by Jon Ray Gardner

During our High School Spring Experience week, we visited some different local farms, working with crops and animals. We started the week at Aspen Moon Farm, where Jason gave us a tour of their top-notch Biodynamic vegetable farm in Hygiene. We learned a bit about cover cropping, crop rotation and using animals to improve the fertility of the land. Since the vegetable fields were too wet to work in, we weeded and mulched some perennial beds, then we hung out with their cows for a bit.

On Tuesday, we went to Light Root Community Farm, a biodynamic, horse-powered dairy farm just north of Boulder. They were in the process of building terraced gardening beds on a hillside, so we removed cactus and yucca to clear the way for the horses. Then, we each got a chance to guide the plow with Cameron behind their two gentle but powerful draft horses, Belle and Beauty. Daphne gave us a milking demonstration, and we each also got to try our hand at milking. It’s not as easy as she makes it look! When we had time to take a break, we cuddled the baby chicks and lounged around with the friendliest calves we’ve ever met.

On Wednesday, we volunteered with Sarah at the Cultiva! Youth-powered CSA project at Growing Gardens. Though we all ended up a bit cross-eyed and sore, the long rows of beets were just about weed-free when we were done. In the afternoon, we all worked with the 2nd grade during their gardening class.

On Thursday, we renovated, planned, cultivated and planted the High School Peace Garden (aka “Claude’s Garden”). We planted peas, beans, kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, herbs, raspberries, strawberries, chard, beets, carrots and more. Hopefully, we’ll get together again soon and over the summer to plant more, care for the garden, and, of course, harvest!

On Friday we finished our work in the garden and then worked with the 8th grade in the Pumpkin Patch. We finished our week with a visit to Mountain Flower Goat Dairy, where we got to try our hand at milking goats, and Maddie gave us a tour. We also fed the baby goats, but, apparently, they were still pretty hungry. Though adorable, they wouldn’t stop nibbling on boots and belts and shirts and even our hair!

Jon Ray Gardner
SMWS Grounds Manager and Gardening Teacher