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Laying Groundwork in Paonia

Hi family and friends,

On Friday, we packed up camp in Gunnison and headed on the winding roads north and west to Paonia, a stunning agricultural valley in Western Colorado. We are spending 3.5 days here learning about seeds, agriculture, and water, as well as doing some hands-on farming with our friends from Laying Groundwork. Yesterday we participated in seed school, learning about the importance of seed diversity and the history of the modern seed industry. We have also gotten our hands dirty on the farm, helping with tasks such as harvesting clover and amaranth, weeding, laying compost, moving the irrigation system, sorting turnip seeds, shelling emmer seeds, and processing corn. This afternoon, the group went swimming at the Paonia Reservoir to cool down.

Beyond these activities, students have been deeply involved in the roles that they have taken on to help run our program. Everyone has their own responsibility, and students are stretching into greater ownership of the day-to-day management of our course, including communicating with our hosts about the plan, keeping the group on time, keeping our van and trailer clean and organized, managing our camp kitchen, and keeping us inspired. They have also been cooking excellent meals for us in their cook crews, and they should all come home ready to prepare a few meals for you too!

When we leave Paonia on Tuesday, we will head toward Mancos in Southwest Colorado, where we plan to learn more about farming and the indigenous communities in the Four Corners area. We’ll spend a few days there before heading out on our float on the San Juan River in Southeastern Utah. We’re enjoying our time together and excited to make the most of the rest of our days ahead!

With care,

The Instructor Team (Christy, Atieno, & Nate)