Community Agriculture Alliance: Gardening with an educational lens |

Community Agriculture Alliance: Gardening with an educational lens

Yampatika summer naturalist Kevin McGarity, left, holds out a leaf for Sam Kitchen to examine at Yampatika’s Environmental Learning Center at Legacy Ranch.
Scott Franz

As a child, some of my best memories were from my time spent in our backyard garden picking strawberries, admiring insects and romping in the sun and dirt. Outdoor spaces and gardens have endless curiosities for a child. 

It is important for youth to have these experiences because they are foundational to developing an appreciation for one’s place and influence in the natural world. In a day and age where we can go to a grocery store for all our food, there is a heightened value in teaching children about the process of gardening.

In turn, this creates a greater appreciation for our environment, an understanding of how the land and plants can provide for us and an appreciation for the symbiotic relationship between many insects, plants, animals and humans. 

This is why I am very excited about my internship with Yampatika. I am designing and implementing a garden space for Yampatika’s Environmental Learning Center at the Legacy Ranch. Yampatika is a local nonprofit environmental education organization that has been serving our community for nearly three decades.

They provide youth and adults with experiences that heighten their understanding and appreciation of the natural world. At the Legacy Ranch, Yampatika host summer camps and seasonal festivals for families. With this internship, I have the opportunity to design a space that will serve as a hands-on educational space for gardening. 

This garden space will contain two vegetable gardens, a perennial vegetable and pollinator garden and a sensory garden.

The sensory garden is designed to incorporate the senses by including plants that have unique smells, textures, tastes and colors. The perennial garden is designed to support local pollinators and teach kids the importance of bees, butterflies and other pollinators. This garden will also highlight the difference between annuals and perennials and will last for several years to come. Finally, the two vegetable beds will contain an array of edible plants that can be harvested like potatoes, broccoli, lettuce, squash, snap peas, carrots and many others.

The purpose of my work is to help educate local youth and community about where our food comes from, how to care for these plants and to understand the importance of gardening and sustainable food production. My goal is to inspire an appreciation for our land and how it provides for us.

I hope these children form a love for the environment and understand how important our relationship is to outdoor spaces. I am excited to continue designing and implementing these gardens this spring. After my internship with Yampatika is done this summer, I will hand over the project to them to continue to maintain these gardens for the years to come.

You can get involved and volunteer to support the gardens, volunteer for education programs or simply participate in one of Yampatika’s unique seasonal adult education programs. Visit for more information.

Krista Bratvold is a student at Colorado Mountain College Steamboat Springs and an intern at Yampatika.

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