You know what they say in Colorado: if you don’t like the weather, just wait 20 minutes. On the way to Ollin Farms in Longmont, the skies were gray and menacing over the mountains. A few minutes after the students arrived in the fields, however, the clouds cleared and the sun was shining. It was perfect pumpkin harvest weather.
When Mark and Kena Guttridge moved to his grandmother’s farm 10 years ago, they had a vision: a farm that would be “family owned and community driven,” a motto that still holds true after a decade of serving families in Longmont and Boulder.
CU Denver students in the Human Development and Family Relations (HDFR) program in the School of Education & Human Development, listened as Mark, an environmental engineer, spoke about the importance of traditional farming practices that respect and replenish the land for future generations, reminding students that “we have to keep in mind how we are going to grow our food, how we’re going to feed ourselves from an ecological perspective.” HDFR emphasizes the importance of ecology and its connection to humans: the environments and interactions between families, schools and communities. HDFR students helped to harvest pumpkins that would later be used in one of Ollin Farms’ community outreach events: the Fall Harvest Festival.
Farming for future, service with a smile
Ollin Farms, which stresses not only nourishing the body, but also providing education for the next generation of consumers, was a perfect location for students to serve. In addition to the farm’s Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program and involvement with local farmer’s markets, Mark and his family work with the Boulder Valley School District to provide organic fruits and vegetables for school cafeterias. During the summer, Kena holds children’s summer camps with classes in English and Spanish about farming, nutrition and cooking.
Learning from and serving alongside community leaders is nothing new for the HDFR program. In the past, students have worked on Colorado Heritage farms and prepared bilingual community events to address college readiness. As part of the program, students are required to participate in service learning in the community. Ruben Viramontez Anguiano, PhD, the HDFR program leader, notes that “the discipline has over 170 years of understanding the importance of partnering with the community and connecting with our environment as humans.”
The HDFR program offers students opportunities to explore themes of diversity and justice in the multicultural neighborhoods in the city of Denver, along the Front Range and beyond. Whether service means harvesting pumpkins on community farms, connecting parents to community resources, or preparing college readiness presentations for Denver high school students, HDFR students are well-equipped to help diverse families both during their undergraduate career and later as helping professionals in fields such as social work, non-profit management and therapy.
Guest Contributor: Jennifer Greiving