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Courtesy photo

Recycled tire garden - all over the community educators have been tilling the soil, building greenhouses, planting seeds and growing seedling starts for harvest over the summer and fall.

This spring as we are together at home with our families is a great time to plant some seeds whether in a garden or a container on your porch.

Planting seeds is a way to learn and practice skills of patience, observation, awareness, gratitude and responsibility. Many generations of grandparents have planted and saved seeds in Taos Valley and taken care of the land and water. Now we can share that practice and skill with our children and it is more important than ever.

Students have been planting at school gardens at Parr Field at Enos Garcia Elementary School for over eight years. Growing Community Now, a project of AIRE (agriculture, implementation, research and education) has been supporting growing traditional crops such as blue corn, red beans and calabasitas. The students participate in planting, harvesting, saving seeds, and, of course, eating the fruits of their labor. Important traditional practices such as making chicos, atole, apple cider, tortillas and many other favorites are part of our annual harvest festival.

Farm to school benefits everyone involved -- children, farmers and communities. KIDS WIN-Farm to school provides children with nutritious, high-quality local food so they are ready to learn and grow. Farm-to-school activities enhance their education through hands-on learning about food, agriculture and nutrition.

FARMERS WIN-Farm to school can serve as a significant financial opportunity for farmers, fishers, ranchers, food processors and food manufacturers by opening doors to an institutional market worth billions of dollars. COMMUNITIES WIN Farm to school benefits everyone from students, teachers and administrators to parents and farmers, providing opportunities to build family and community engagement. Buying from local producers and processors creates new jobs and strengthens the local economy.

We are wrapping up this school year with so much to be thankful for. Over the last month, our educators have tilling the soil, building greenhouses, planting seeds and growing seedling starts for harvest over the summer and fall. The food grown at our school gardens will be used in the school meals.

We are also planting the seeds for online programming - sprouting online with lots of lessons, recipes and resources to choose from. If you haven't already, check taosfarmtoschool.org and to learn how to make yummy recipes like blue corn atole, blue corn muffins, kale smoothies, carrot muffins, lunch burritos and kale chips.

You can also see the progress that we are making at Enos Garcia grow dome, Parr Field garden, Arroyos del Norte salsa greenhouse and the Taos high school garden. We'll update our lessons every week, so make sure to keep checking in for more.

We will be sending home seeds to plant a three sisters garden with the school lunch buses and pickup points on Monday (June 1), Wednesday (June 3), and Friday (June 5). (See the three sisters garden links on our website.) Families will also receive blue cornmeal grown at Tamaya Farms, Santa Ana Pueblo. Blue corn pancakes atole, and muffins are a fun, healthy, and delicious way to share a local tradition with your family.

Send photos of your recipes and gardens to growingcommunitynow.org or post them to Instagram.

For more information about growing in Taos, check out Farmer Melinda from Morningstar Farm's series of Facebook videos demonstrating a variety of basic gardening techniques at facebook.com/103473711307839/videos/211807266940930.

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