GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – A typical day for students attending Yampah Mountain High School in Glenwood Springs might include feeding chickens, harvesting pumpkins and building compost bins. Instructor Kim Doyle Wille directs an army of high schoolers in a well-orchestrated garden dance. On Wednesday, they worked hard to get the produce picked and the garden “put to bed” before the winter really sets in.

The school serves at-risk students across a vast region that includes Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin Counties. Students get hands on and up close to growing produce, keeping farmyard critters alive and learning how to make products from the things they grow.

Students at Yampah Mountain High School learn life lessons at a greenhouse.

Students at Yampah Mountain High School learn life lessons at a greenhouse. (credit: CBS)

“Keeps us calm and at peace while working outside with all these fruits and vegetables learning what’s healthy, what’s not,” senior Ramona Kirschling said as she untied deer coverings from a patch of raised vegetable beds.

The students spend part of the day toiling in the greenhouse, learning what it takes to get things from seed to finished product.

They have learned to adapt to Mother Nature like when an early October freeze hit their greenhouse hard.

“It took a lot of seeds, hard-work and getting along to get all this done,” Kirschling said.

The fruits of their labors end up being cooked by the students inside the school and served up in the cafeteria. What’s left over helps to stock local food pantries in the community.

The students have constructed composting stations to take care of school food waste through regular compost, vermicomposting, bokashi composting, and feeding chickens and ducks.

They are currently constructing a 12 foot by 24 foot hoophouse so they can get a head start on plantings/transplantings of 1,500 peppers and tomato plants that will be distributed next spring to six Lift-Up food pantry’s clients.

Matt Kroschel

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