In a world full of gadgets and gizmos, it’s hard not to wonder what it might be like to go back to a simpler way of life — back when High Country pioneers and miners grew their own food, raised their own chickens and gathered honey straight from their own beehives.
These things aren’t just part of the past. Colorado Mountain College and the High Country Conservation Center are teaming up to offer a selection of continuing education classes open to anyone who’s interested. Topics include practical beekeeping for beginners, backyard chicken basics, secrets of seed saving and a culinary class on cooking leafy green vegetables.
“They are really eclectic classes that are a little all over the place, but are really fun and interesting for people,” said Jennifer Santry, HC3’s community programs director.
The non-credit classes range from $25-$35 and will take place between May 30 and Aug. 7. Pre-registration is necessary to secure a spot in the classes.
Not only will classes be taught by local instructors who know the High Country environment, Santry said, but the dates of the classes match the theme seasonally — for instance, the harvesting class is taught during harvest season, and the seed-collection class at the end of the growing season.
“Even though our gardening season is very short, we have seen a lot of interest in it,” said CMC’s continuing education director Rolo Cuadrado.
The college and nonprofit HC3 decided to expand on their already established partnership by offering the summer garden classes.
“It seemed to make sense to offer classes similar to what HC3 is offering,” Cuadrando said.
He said he hopes offering these classes at Colorado Mountain College will make the topics accessible to a larger audience. The partnership also makes sense for the High Country Conservation Center.
“We thought it would be really great to put a twist on the garden classes we offer by making them a little more professional and structured, and putting them behind a name like Colorado Mountain College,” Santry said.
First on the schedule is a course covering the fundamentals of beekeeping. It is geared toward anyone considering raising bees in the backyard, or who is simply interested in the topic.
“You can come learn about honey bees, why they are disappearing, why they are important to our environment and how to build a hive and watch the bees make honey,” Santry said.
Another class organizers are expecting to be popular is backyard chicken basics, which class will teach participants everything they need to know about raising rural or city chickens, including care, housing, fencing and livestock regulations.
Although current regulations don’t yet allow residents to keep bees or raise chickens unless they live in an agricultural zone, that could soon change, Santry said.
“We have been working with the county for quite some time now to get these regulations passed, and it’s on the edge of happening,” she said.
HC3 representatives said they are happy to be an educational resource community members to learn the right way to incorporate urban farming and gardening practices into their daily lives.
“You really need to know what you are doing before you start these projects — not only for the sake of the animals, but it will also save you a lot of money in the long run,” Santry said.
Community members interested in signing up for the continuing education classes can visit the Colorado Mountain College Breckenridge campus at 107 Denison Placer Road, call the college at (970) 468-5989 or visit the CMC continuing education website. More information about the classes is also available in the summer non-credit course catalog. Funds generated from the courses will support continuing education at the CMC and Summit County community gardens.