Mountain Harvest Creative is a charitable nonprofit corporation.  Our mission is to celebrate and serve our local communities by showcasing the bounty of the North Fork Valley.


Mountain Harvest Creative (MHC) is the charitable organization which brings you Mountain Harvest Festival. We also work year round to highlight the creative talents in the North Fork Valley, and to provide arts and agriculture education to kids.

For many years, MHC sponsored scholarships for the Teens on Farms program, which allows kids to experience every aspect of farming from soil to sale. This year, MHC sponsored Marimba residencies at Hotchkiss K-8. David Alderdice and Embodying Rhythm brought eight marimbas to the school, and taught forty 5th graders how to play them in a week and a half of in-school classes. The kids performed for the rest the school and also later in the day, for the community.

We enjoy collaborating with other organizations. Through our collaboration with Blue Sage Center for the Arts and The Learning Council, we have provided the Arts for All program in Paonia Elelmentary, and placed world-class musicians in the schools to play for them and speak about being a musician. The Arts for All program provides after school arts classes on a gift model, like Orchestra, Dance, Circus Arts, and Visual Arts. We have continued the program through the summer, providing classes in Choral, Strings, Circus Arts, and Animation Movie Making – the latter sponsored by Aspen Arts Museum.

Thank you to all who have contributed to our endeavors. We will continue to bring creative programs, and feed your inspiration in the North Fork Valley!


We do this by showcasing the bounty of the North Fork Valley of the Gunnison River, including local musicians, authors, poets, artists, farmers, vintners, brewers and chefs.

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.

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.

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.


A diverse group of individuals dedicated to celebrating and supporting the abundance of the North Fork Valley.

Tom Backhus



Ethel Garrett



Andee Rose-Small



David Jacobson










The festival is carried out with a mostly volunteer work force.  Its focus has changed over time, it began as a community celebration aimed at uniting the community around the single idea that our valley is a wonderful place to live, and that remains the spirit of the festival.


Our expanding mission in the North Fork Valley includes supporting arts and agriculture education.  Young people in our valley participate in most of our harvests; including in music, theater, the visual arts, literature, agriculture and value added product that comes from it.  We are committed to supporting these endeavors.

We are grateful for 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.  Last 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.

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. 

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 fed 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. One result won the Best Film Award!

These programs illustrate one of the most important “harvests” we celebrate: the maturing of our youth.  We are proud to be able to support enhanced arts and agriculture education across all our “mountain” communities now and in the future.  And so we will continue to support and encourage the growing “harvest” represented by the next generation of “creatives” in our valley.