“Improving the lives of children living in high-risk, urbanized neighborhoods by helping to create a sense of positive self-regard and self-reliance, a strong work ethic, and hope.” Seriously, what could be more noble than that? I just found out about The Urban Farm here in Denver, which happens to be only 4 miles from my house or so. Started back in 1993 as “Embracing Horses”, the facility began as a horsemanship program for 15 inner-city kids. It was designed to give them a farm experience here in urban Denver, and in 1998 it moved to its current location here in Stapleton, a few miles outside of downtown. It is here that they have adopted a much bigger mission, which is to provide environmental education to children and their families alike. Over 3,000 kids visit each year, learning about agriculture, sustainability, and taking care of animals. Their facility has a 20,000 square foot indoor teaching barn, a 20,000 square foot Children’s Garden with a greenhouse, and 24 horse paddocks, all sitting on 23 acres and home to 250 animals. It is quite a sight to behold when you drive over by it, seeing as how you can see downtown Denver in the background!
After attending, their programs have shown that the kids:
- Demonstrate increased knowledge and skills in the areas of plant and animal science
- Understand the multi-cultural influences on Colorado’s continuing agriculturally-based economy and be able to track their own personal linkages to farming, ranching, and agriculture
- Integrate their educational experiences at The Urban Farm with their school
- Exhibit increased positive, non-aggressive, cooperative behaviors which incorporate acceptable conflict resolution approaches
- Exhibit a strong work ethic and a sense of pride in the products they produce
If that’s true (and I am sure it is), these type of farms should be in every community across the country! They also offer tours, gardening workshops, birthday parties, and a therapeutic riding program for the Denver community. Looking to have your own plot of land to garden in while still living in the big city? You may want to check out their community gardens, which can provide you with plots ranging in size from 8×10 10×15 for seasonal fees between $50 – $70… composted manure included! Not bad for having a garden of your own to work, along with granting you and your family access to the other Urban Farm amenities and programs.
Learning about this farm has shown me just how important they can be for our inner-city and urbanized kids, with the majority of them never being around nature and gardens, or seeing any other animals other than their own dogs and cats. While I didn’t grow up in the “country”, I did have access to wide swaths of untouched nature to run and play in, and our town did have some small horse farms in it. If you live in an urbanized area, do your family and your kids a favor and see if you have a farm like this one near you – and go check it out. You won’t be sorry.
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