A particularly Pueblo project

Pueblo chile plant. (Photo by McCall Knecht.)

A free program brings the flavor and story of Pueblo chiles to classrooms across Colorado.

Students from all parts of the Centennial State will learn about the famous Pueblo pepper. The newly published children’s book, Seed, Sprout, Spice! All About Pueblo Chiles, is sent out to participating elementary teachers through the Colorado Agriculture in the Classroom Literacy Project. Along with a book, they’ll receive frozen, diced Pueblo chiles, Pueblo chile seeds and planting supplies, and corresponding student lessons. Local Pueblo farmers are providing the chiles for the tasting experience.

The Literacy Project is a way to bring agriculture into the classroom, while reinforcing reading comprehension and other academic standards. A new topic and book, featuring true-life Colorado agriculture stores, are chosen each year. This is a free program for prekindergarten through 5th grade classes.

Students are being presented more information about Pueblo chiles.(Photo courtesy of Colorado Agriculture in the Classroom.)
Students are being presented more information about Pueblo chiles and Colorado agriculture.(Photo courtesy of Colorado Agriculture in the Classroom.)

“We typically get an influx of sign-ups right after the winter break,” says Jennifer Scharpe, executive director for Colorado Agriculture in the Classroom. “We feel confident that we could reach 1,000 classes and more than 22,000 students with this program this year.”

Currently, over 700 classes have signed up to participate, which is the maximum amount grant funding supports. This is 200 more classes than last year and about 55% of this year’s classes are new participants. The classes that signed up represent 135 schools in 40 Colorado counties.

Due to the early demand, organizers are going to start wait-listing classes and will have to turn them away if they are not able to secure an additional $15,600, which is about $52 per class, in funding. The Literacy Project is often a gateway for teachers to then start using other resources from Agriculture in the Classroom, which incorporates food and natural resources topics into curriculum.

Seed, Sprout, Spice! All About Pueblo Chiles was written by Rachel Allnutt, illustrated by Sierra Linke, and published by Knecht Media LLC, all from Colorado. This project was made possible by support from Colorado Agriculture in the Classroom, the Pueblo Chile Growers Association, the Pueblo Food Project, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, through the Specialty Crop Block Grant program administrated by the Colorado Department of AgriculturePueblo Seed & Food Company, and various individual donors. The book was printed in Pueblo at Schuster’s Printing.

For more information, to sign up, or donate visit CoAgClassroom.org or call 720-788-3224.