We also provide education opportunities in agriculture and the arts, including scholarships to local students; collaborating with other local nonprofits; bringing money into the North Fork community; and throwing a grand party celebrating all of our harvests during the last week of September each year.
MHC hosts the annual Mountain Harvest Festival in Paonia, CO. The Festival benefits the economy of our small, rural area by bringing visitors and providing a significant boost to the for-profit economy, particularly at our lodging facilities and restaurants. It has become the second largest event held in Paonia annually, and the only one whose focus is on charitable goals. Mountain Harvest has now grown to embrace a central charitable focus in which the Festival is no longer the objective of the organization. So in March 2015, we renamed the organization Mountain Harvest Creative. The Festival is now just one vehicle through which funds are raised to support education and the work of other local nonprofit organizations. It has become a very important event for our local not-for-profits, who report significant funds raised during the Festival.
The Mountain Harvest Creative derives most of its financial support from two sources (1) donations from the local community, including businesses and individuals, which are tax deductible; and (2) sales at the Festival. We are also pursuing other avenues of support, including grants.
From 2009 to 2015, we gave scholarships for teenagers to participate in Teens on Farms, the innovative program that provides invaluable farming experience for students in our area. Last year we sponsored Plants R Us, a program in which kids grow their own market garden, located at the fairgrounds in Hotchkiss. Together with very experienced adult leaders, these students gain valuable work experience in the continuation of farming skills, and earn money in the process.
Last year, we expanded our collaboration with the Blue Sage Center for the Arts. We provided funds to help bring school children to the Center to learn from professional artists about art and its creation. We sponsored the Visual Thinking Strategies program. This taught kids to think through the perspective of art. This year our sponsorship allows a visiting performer, Dr. Bill Kalinkos, to be a guest teacher in Paonia and Hotchkiss High Schools. Students will also attend a special performance by Dr Kalinkos at the Blue Sage.
Delta County Schools no longer have the funding to bring this kind of creative diversity into the curriculum. So in May 2015, MHC sponsored Musical Explorations, a music in the schools program created by David Alderdice and Embodying Rhythm. The program taught music from around the world, how musicians work together, and how kids can experience music for themselves. It was presented to the elementary schools in Paonia, Crawford, and Hotchkiss, while also paying ten local musicians.
A Mountain Harvest Creative grant to the Paonia Film Festival Film School helped the organization offer scholarships for students to attend the series. The intention of the series was to inspire budding filmmakers to get out there and start making movies. The education program also hoped to feed the submission pool for the festival, in April 2016, by providing new skills to seasoned filmmakers and foundations for newbies starting to explore the film making process.