Kelle Bruno has spent years doing farm and garden work with youth in Southwest Colorado. These days she teaches 1st and 2nd grade, along with gardening, at a charter school in Pagosa Springs, but back around 2010 she was getting her hands dirty in the Needham Elementary School Garden
In her time with The Garden Project, Kelle was an integral part of our team. Around 2010, Bruno was substituting at Needham, found out about TGP, and was soon involved as a Dirt Club instructor. She spent afternoons teaching students about growing food. Together, they’d harvest garden goodies and make snacks. Kids would also get creative by making nature-based crafts with Annie, the other instructor at the time.
Kelle also stepped in to teach youth about growing food at our biannual event, Farmer Days. In 2010, Bruno and her husband started Southern Roots Farm. That, along with her experiences working in educational farm capacities, made her a perfect fit to provide students with a “farm career day.” In the Fall, she’d teach about seed saving, seed processing, and would help put the garden to rest for the winter. It was an experience that she found valuable for both the students, and herself as a farmer.
“It’s such a cool program to get farmers off the farm and get the kids exposed to that kind of work. I think a lot of farmers get used to what they’re doing and don’t understand how other people have no idea about how we get our food and what it entails. So it’s a really cool opportunity to share your knowledge and get kids excited.” - Kelle Bruno
Lastly, Kelle was a member of our board from 2012 - 2015, helping TGP along with organizational shifts, contributing to the installation of the Miller Middle School Garden, and founding our annual Junior Gardener Summer Camp. She, Sandhya Tillotson, and the board realized school gardens were underutilized during their most productive season - the height of summer. The camp was a way to get kids in the garden when it was active and exciting. She ran the first camp in 2014, bringing garden work, crafts, and fresh food together for a week of fun and hands-on learning.
We’re glad to see Kelle is still introducing her love of growing to children across Southern Colorado, and are thankful for all of her contributions during her time with The Garden Project. Over her time in this area, Bruno has done a lot of work in garden and farm education. It’s given her the opportunity to see organizations both flourish and fall behind. She is excited to see our growth the same way we are excited to see hers.
“It’s fun for me to see that it’s still moving forward. I’ve been part of a couple of [organizations] that sort of dissolve. It’s nice to know that things are continuing at The Garden Project. I saw you guys won Nonprofit of the Year and that’s just really awesome.” - Kelle Bruno