OSMRE / VISTA Team Projects

Montezuma School to Farm Project

Christine Foote

OSMRE / VISTA: Christine Foote
Supervisor: Sarah Syverson
Address: 40160 Road J, Mancos, Colorado 81328
County: Montezuma
Voice Telephone: 970-903-8831
Email: syversonsarah@yahoo.com
Web site: www.facebook.com/MontezumaSchooltoFarm
Congressional District: 3rd
Bureau: Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)


The Montezuma School to Farm Project unites their local agricultural heritage with their growing future by engaging students at the crossroads of sustainable agriculture, resource conservation, health and economics through educational experience in outdoor garden classes, on field trips, and summer farm camps.

About the Surrounding Community

Montezuma County, the location of most of the Ute Mountain Indian Reservation, is within the Durango Coal Field District. Many Montezuma County students and families lack access to fresh and local foods. Healthy foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, are more expensive than less healthy foods, such as refined grains and sweets. The healthy choices may be too expensive for low-income families. Extensive research proves that childhood obesity rates resulting from poor quality food options are directly linked to low-income areas. Of the residents served by the Montezuma School to Farm Project, 18.53% live below the national poverty level.

Project Overview

The Montezuma School to Farm Project (MSTFP) provides garden classrooms where diet, nutrition, active lifestyles, water and soil conservation, and core curriculum lessons intersect. Garden educators teach seed to table concepts through hands-on experiences which build in complexity from year to year. The OSMRE/VISTA aims to alleviate poverty by equipping students with critical thinking abilities and well informed nutritional practices. By educating students on how to grow and cook their own food, the OSMRE/VISTA helps students to develop a sense of ownership in the garden, making them more likely to eat the fruits and vegetables they grew themselves. MSTFP developed Youth Farmers’ Markets to provide affordable access to local food and encourage students’ families to make healthy choices. Market experiences fuse real world applications of math and science with economics to reinforce classroom learning, while simultaneously building support for the local food system. MSTFP utilizes field trips to cultivate relationships between students and local farmers, bring attention to local resources, and promote an appreciation for the region’s agricultural roots. A drought resilience curriculum, heritage orchard and permaculture design features -- all found in the school gardens -- serve as tools to further inspire stewardship from a local perspective.

Sponsors and Partners

Mancos and Dolores Conservation Districts

Mancos, Dolores, and Cortez School Districts

City of Cortez: Cortez Recreation Center

Mancos Valley Resources

First Southwest Bank

Tierra Madre Herbs

Cliffrose Garden Center and Gifts

Kiwanis Club of Mesa Verde

Dolores Rotary Club

Coutts & Clark Western Foundation

Colorado State Conservation Board

Livewell Colorado

Colorado Health Foundation

El Pomar Foundation

Ballantine Family Fund

Anschutz Family Foundation

National Farm to School Network

US Department of Agriculture

Western Hardrock Watershed Team AmeriCorps Program

SW Rural Homeless Initiative Americorps Program

Natural Resource Conservation Service