Field Trip to Colorado State University SPUR Campus

A large group of Garden Club of Denver members turned out for a tour of the Colorado State University SPUR campus, visiting Terra-with its focus on food and agriculture, Hydro-the study of water in Colorado as a headwater state, and Vida-a research facility for human and animal health. We began with a tasty lunch at Western Daughters Café, which will feature food grown onsite once the gardens are established. Sarah Miley, Programming and Community Outreach Director, gave a thorough and enjoyable tour of the facilities.

The CSU SPUR campus is a place for science, research and education and is open to the public. One of the most impressive features of SPUR is the educational component, and the ability for the community to witness and participate in the sciences, largely free of charge. SPUR provides support to budding entrepreneurs across the food production, preparation and consumption spectrum as a research and teaching facility. The SPUR buildings are architecturally stunning and add a great deal to the National Western Complex. A future visit will reveal new exhibits and outdoor spaces that are currently being developed.  It was exciting to see this amazing new resource for Denver and beyond.

We visited the rooftop hydroponic greenhouse at Terra, where researchers are developing sustainable ways of growing and distributing food, especially in urban spaces.  We saw how the hydroponic system works, and that it uses a fraction of the water compared to soil growing.  There are extensive plans for developing the greenhouse and outdoor rooftop garden.

At Terra, researchers study water, soil, and plants in labs, offering educational programs for school age children as well as master’s degrees in food innovation and entrepreneurship. There is a community teaching kitchen for people interested in careers in food.

Recently opened Hydro focuses on water conservation and water quality through its partnership with Denver Water. We “played in the mud” at an exhibit meant to replicate how water erodes soil and distributes soil elements. This summer there will be additional activities along the adjacent and restored South Platte River.

An unexpected add-on was a tour of Vida. Visitors can watch veterinary surgeries live thanks to a partnership with Dumb Friends League. Classes, exhibits and school focused activities focus on the connectivity between human and animal life. Equine therapy is a primary focus.