The Beginning of MSTFP with Nadia Hebard

When we talk about the plant cycle in the classroom, we describe the seed as both the beginning and the end. Nadia Hebard and her legacy as the founder of Montezuma School to Farm Project is an example of the cyclical nature of time, and what grows from endings and nurtured beginnings.

In 2009, Nadia was serving as the Office of Surface Mining (OSM)/Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) Watershed Coordinator for the Mancos River Watershed Project. Nadia’s supervisor, Felicity Broennan, maintained strong relationships with both conservative ranchers and liberal community members, and inspired Nadia to unify the community for healthier land. Nadia remembers,

“It was so rewarding to be part of the effort to find common ground on such an important topic (water conservation) and it really opened my eyes to the value of human connection and the depth of skill, wisdom, and experience that so many people in Mancos have.”

As her service term ended, Nadia researched programs around Colorado that were connecting students to farming. With the help of Jack Burk, her current supervisors, the Mancos Conservation District, and strong roots in the community, Nadia transformed her position and the expiration of her service term into a new endeavor: Montezuma School to Farm Project.

Nadia believes that Mancos is “special and full of opportunity because of its rich history of ranching and farming, which has led to a remarkable amount of people who are involved in agriculture.” She sees the Mancos Valley as an ideal place to host garden programming because students are “part of a strong community with immense amounts of wisdom...and they are fully capable of being part of the local food movement.”

During the very first MSTFP field trip which included tracing the watershed to the Burks’ ranch, Nadia showed students how the watershed’s health “is vital to maintain a thriving environment and our very existence.” Water conservation and sustainable practices to this day continue to be at the core of MSTFP’s garden curriculum. Nadia adds,

“It is important that we raise our kids to be stewards of the earth; and what better way than to empower them with the curiosity, knowledge, and skills to grow their own food.”

The growth and expansion of the Project since Nadia left speaks to the seed she planted and the strong roots her work and dedication cultivated for the program to thrive. Nadia is grateful for how her years working in Mancos shaped her. During her time in Montezuma County, she had the opportunity to get to know and respect the community, learn about the watershed, start MSTFP, and work at the Wily Carrot Farm.

Now living in Montana with her two kids and partner, Nadia reflects on the past decade since starting MSTFP: “Mancos left a legacy in me: a love of community and a desire to grow as much of my own food as I can.” She hopes that MSTFP leaves a similar legacy with its students.

Nadia Hebard