Teaching the value of local, healthy food one garden at a time.

Manna & The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado have Merged!

We are thrilled to announce, Manna and The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado are merging to address the root causes of poverty, hunger and hardship in our community. Together we will expand our community relevance and impact, cooperating with families and individuals of all ages to achieve greater resilience and sufficiency by providing nourishing meals, support services, garden programs, food security education and job skills training. 

This union comes after 15 years of focused collaboration between the two nonprofits, including sharing of programs, participants, grant funds, volunteers, and tangible resources. We are inspired to take our partnership to a new level by merging the two organizations and creating an even stronger focus on food. Sandhya Tillotson commented, “As a former Executive Director of The Garden Project, I’ve witnessed the organization’s growth and adaptation over the years and am proud of how much we’ve accomplished together with the community. I’m thrilled to see this merger with Manna, one of our closest partners, to continue The Garden Project’s mission of growing a healthier community – in a way that is relevant to the times and increases our focus on food security.” 

Learn more about our merger:

Garden Education Programs

All programs are currently on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions. Check back for garden education updates!

Junior Master Gardeners

Our AmeriCorps service members design and teach a series of lessons tailored to second grade classrooms that coincide with state standards and are based off of the Junior Master Gardener Handbook. Lessons are designed to be taught both in the classroom or in the garden throughout the school year. A school does not need to have a garden to receive these lessons, which are taught in partnership with Colorado State University Extension’s (CSUE) 4-H program.

Junior gardeners Summer camp

Though camps will not be hosted in the summer of 2020, we aim to start week-long summer camps in 2021. These camps will combine aspects of previous summer programs hosted by The Garden Project and Manna, allowing students to spend a half day in the Manna garden and a half day in our culinary kitchen learning cooking skills. Keep an eye out for more information on this program next year!

Online garden education lessons

Our online lessons are made to teach elementary-aged children about science and nutrition through the lens of plants and gardening. The Junior Master Gardeners are created in line with Colorado Academic Standards and provide a creative means of at-home learning.

The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado: Legacy Gardens

Manna Garden

Manna is one of only a handful of soup kitchens in the United States that has an onsite garden thanks to a partnership with The Garden Project of Southwest ColoradoThe garden’s purpose is multidimensional and serves various segments of the population. It helps Manna be more self-sustaining and provides educational and nutritional benefits to the community. Food harvested from the garden feeds Manna’s clients and supplies instructional produce for Manna’s Culinary Program.

Ohana Kuleana Community Garden

Ohana Kuleana Community Garden broke ground in 2013 through the work of The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado. It sits on a slice of land over an acre on the north end of Durango below Riverview Elementary School. OKCG has 45 garden parcels: six of them are cultivated by schoolchildren under the guidance of their science teacher; the rest are assigned to community members who pay annual plot fees to help underwrite garden expenses.

Thank You to our Garden Committee

In the 2020 merger of Manna and The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado, these committee members helped facilitate the continuation of garden programs and education.

Nora Stafford – Chair
Patsy Ford
Ellen Smith
Michael Kaiser
Madeline Marquardt
Dan Oschmann


Growing Opportunities, Feeding Community.

Every day Manna works to strengthen the food security of La Plata County. Your support makes this happen.