Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
The 4-H symbol of a four leaf clover always reminds us of how lucky we are. Head, Heart, Hands and Health represent each leaf of our clover. These H’s guide us in working hard to become better people. Our program believes that the harder we work at these principles, the greater the luck we create for ourselves.
This year, we will actively engage our community in our fourth H – Health. We encourage our members’ healthy living through exercise, eating well and education about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. We have also been promoting health through our 4-H Giving Back Garden.
In its third year, the 4-H Giving Back Garden will manage a one-eighth-acre plot at the Old Fort in Hesperus. This project has allowed us to teach the importance of growing fresh local food for our community.
We have distributed our produce through local granges, food banks, community events and, significantly, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s “Produce Bounty” Program in the fall.
Penny Crawford, leader of the Mountain Shadows 4-H Club, and other leaders have engaged the community in healthy living by organizing the Harvest Festival. Last year, we grew lots of pumpkins for the community to harvest and use for decorations at Halloween and for making pies for Thanksgiving.
In addition, we gave away potatoes, onions, peppers, root vegetables and winter squashes. The event got people outside to celebrate the community’s agricultural roots.
The focus for this year’s garden will be healthy cooking and preserving our harvest. During the year, we show people how to use these foods in recipes for healthy snacks and meals. Also, we will teach vegetable preservation through canning, freezing and dehydrating, so you can use these vegetables throughout the year.
We will also be contributing to the 2016 Old Fort Market Gardens Community Supported Agriculture program. Participants in this program buy a share at the beginning of the season and receive a weekly box of vegetables from the bounty of produce harvested throughout the season. It’s a great way to become connected to the food you eat.
This CSA is unique in that produce will be coming from the farmers’ incubator program at the Old Fort. This program helps support farmers of all ages obtain access to land, water and education to be successful.
To learn more about types of shares and prices for the CSA, call The Old Fort Market Gardens at 385-4574 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Furthermore, we teach and act in support of healthy land for future generations. Our garden is used to teach about the benefits of healthy soils and other sustainable agriculture practices.
We encourage youth groups interested in field days, volunteers or people in need of fresh vegetables to contact the La Plata County 4-H office to get involved.
Greg Felsen is the La Plata County 4-H youth development agent. Reach him at email@example.com or 382-6463.