Wonders of Getting Outside, Starting Your Garden, and Engaging with the Rio Grande Farm Park

Spring 2020 Newsletter update from Amber Middleton

“I think about growing food right now like my parents did when they put in Victory Gardens; only these are our “COVID Gardens” growing food anywhere we can for a sense of control and contribution”

– Liza Marron, Executive Director of the SLV Local Foods Coalition 

We are in a time where a lot of us feel that we have little control over our daily lives and our future. Things are scary and uncertain. The Farm Park has had to cancel our spring events and workdays and rethink how we can safely engage with the community. However, the importance of local agriculture has never been so apparent! We at the Rio Grande Farm Park have been trying to stay positive and think out of the box on how to stay connected with you all. The best way we’ve thought of is to keep you all connected with the outdoors and keep doing what we do best–supporting our farmers. Below are some of our suggestions and ideas on how to embrace the outdoors during these odd times. 

Get outside

Start your own “Corona Victory Garden” 

In the early 20th century, gardening became a civic duty. During World War I and II, the Victory Garden movement called on Americans to grow food wherever they could.  Now that there are so many things out of our control, one thing we can control is where our food comes from. If you have space–any space–you can grow your own food. Besides providing a consistent source of fresh, healthy veggies, gardening can also be therapeutic and stress-relieving. Here are some helpful resources to get you started with your own garden: 

Safely enjoying the Rio Grande Farm Park

  • Walk Alamosa’s river trails: Starting at Cole Park, walk across the pedestrian bridge to the southwest entrance of the Rio Grande Farm Park. Stroll through the park to see the start of the farming season, spot some birds, and enjoy the view of Mt. Blanca. Continue past the big tractor shed to get back on the river trails that connect to Blanca Vista park, the Disc Golf Course trails, and the Alamosa Ranch trails. The Alamosa Family Rec Center has a helpful trail map on their website here
  • Go bird watching: the Farm Park and the trails that surround it are full of birds! We suggest getting out early in the morning to see the best variety. Stop and watch our birdhouses to see if any bluebirds have taken up residence
  • Clean up! With the spring winds come an extra abundance of trash blowing onto the park. Bring along a bag and some gloves to pick up any trash you find along your nature walk. If you have kids with you, make it a competition to see who can fill their bag the fullest! (It’s like an Easter Egg hunt…just less rewarding at the end)
  • Volunteer: We have some individual volunteer opportunities open that can be done by yourself or with members of your household. If you are interested, please email meg.rgfp@gmail.com

We are very appreciative of the continued support of our volunteers, friends, staff, and community. The land is currently being prepared for planting and we are so excited to be able to supply the community and local food pantries with fresh, locally grown produce this summer. If you’d like to stay connected to what’s happening at the Farm Park or to get notified when we can start our workdays again, follow us on Facebook or sign up for email updates by clicking here.

The Vision for Our Environmental Education Center 

Thanks to Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), we are able to start building our Environmental Education Center! In March we were awarded a $265,680 grant in partnership with Alamosa County for our new education center at the Rio Grande Farm Park. Additionally, funding from an individual donor will go towards creating a new restroom pavilion that will include a wash station for our farmers. 

The center will be used to provide environmental education to children and families visiting the  Rio Grande Farm Park through year-round programming in conjunction with local schools, after school programs, and summer camps. We will also use the center for farmer education, community workshops, and meeting space for our volunteer projects and other events. 

This project was first conceived in our Master Planning process in 2015. In 2019 we also held two community meetings to confirm that an education center would meet the community’s needs. Additionally, Alamosa’s comprehensive city plan identified activating the Rio Grande corridor as a priority. Community meeting attendees were most excited about the potential for demonstrations and workshops on growing and harvesting food in the Valley’s harsh climate, cooking with local food, composting, wildlife, and caring for the environment. 

The overall goal of RGFP’s environmental education program is to ignite a love of and sense of responsibility for the outdoors and the local environment among youth. Using Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s evidence-based curricula, RGFP uses experiential learning to teach youth about healthy soil and water, riparian habitats, growing healthy food, integrative farming, and environmental stewardship. We are part of Alamosa RIO, a GOCO-funded Generation Wild coalition, which has funded environmental programming at RGFP. We currently have an Alpine Achiever AmeriCorps member developing and implementing environmental education at the Park and Ortega Middle School. 

About GOCO: 

Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers, and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,200 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.