Organic farm provides more than produce; it’s also an educational tool | TheFencePost.com

Organic farm provides more than produce; it’s also an educational tool

On a Thursday morning in mid-June, the kitchen at Cure Organic Farm was bustling with young kids preparing food for lunch — with supervision, of course.

For the Tribune/Emma Pion-Berlin | | Anne Cure, co-owner of the Cure Organic Farm, stands in front of her farm’s sign on Thursday in Boulder at 7416 Valmont Road. Cure and her husband Paul Cure opened up the farm in 2005 and have many passionate interns and volunteers working in the farm to keep it up and running.

It was the last day of a four-day summer camp for the kids, but they weren't learning to cook. Instead, they learned how the food gets to the kitchen in the first place.

At the farm in Boulder, Colo., there is a large focus on community and learning, and both were important pillars for Cure Organic when the farm opened in 2005.

For the Tribune/Emma Pion-Berlin | | Mariah MacArthur left, and Mollie Landers-Hatt right, prepare produce in the farm store at the Organic Cure Farm in Boulder on Thursday. Landers-Hatt is a farm store attendant from Denver who has been working at Cure Farm for a month and a half. She teaches MacArthur, a volunteer in training, the necessary skills to work at Cure Farm.

Anne Cure and her husband, Paul, own the farm, but it's Anne's background and passion for farming that brought Cure Organic to life.

Anne Cure grew up in upstate New York on a cow/calf operation. She was the youngest of six kids, and some tease her that her efforts on the New York operation lead to her current career.

For the Tribune/Emma Pion-Berlin | | Fineas Prairie 9, left, Maxwell Siedler 9, middle and Georgia Cure, 9, help cook tofu for a meal being served to the farm staff at the Organic Cure Farm in Boulder on Thursday. The kids participate in a day camp where they learn about gardening and other farming skills and on Thursdays they cook a meal for the employees working at the farm.

"My brothers and sisters say I farm today because I didn't have to do anything when I was little because they did all the work," she said. "I don't remember it that way, but I'm sure I got out of lifting a lot of hay bales because of my size."

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Anne moved to Colorado in 1994. One of her brothers got a job in Boulder, and she decided to move there, too.

For the Tribune/Emma Pion-Berlin | | Anne Cure, harvests chard on Thursday in one of the fields at her organic farm in Boulder. At the farm, Cure, her interns and volunteers grow all different types of organic produce and meat as well.

"I'm one of those that come and stay and create families here. Our kids are being raised here now," Cure said.

EDUCATION

Although Cure grew up on a farm, it was actually work in college that led to her career as a farmer.

For the Tribune/Emma Pion-Berlin | | Employees of the Cure Organic Farm plant lettuce in one of the produce fields on Thursday. These employees are refugees from Laos, Cambodia, and have been working for the farm for 10 years.

She worked on farms during summer breaks. She started out weeding, but eventually moved on to planting.

After graduation, she started to work as a farm manager for a few different farms. The last one she was at closed in 2004, but she didn't want to end her career there.

As is the case for many, land was hard to come by. The farm sits on about 10 private acres, and Cure also leases 25 acres of Boulder Open Space.

Cure's experience contributed to the farm's success, and she wanted to share that success to help teach others about farm life and created three different programs for youth.

The summer camps is one program. The four-day sessions give kids a chance to learn about different parts of farming.

They learn about chickens and pigs — two animals that are raised on the farm, along with bees. They get to gather eggs, work in a small garden and pick produce when it's ready.

And to finish the week, the kids use the food they worked with to make a meal for the farm workers. Cure said the kids are engaged throughout the week and leave knowing more about where the food they eat comes from.

"It's great. Kids know the difference between busy work and real work," she said.

Cure said there is definitely a difference in the kids knowledge base about where their food comes from at the start of the camps to the current camps.

"When we first started the camp … of 10 kids, eight of them would have never cracked an egg. Now they come and the kids are sorting through the eggs and saying 'this one's going to be a double yolk.' Just the education and awareness of food has really grown in the last 10 years. It's been incredible to watch," she said.

Kids aren't the only group getting a farm education at Cure Organic.

There is an internship program at the farm that runs from April to November. Cure said normally they get six to eight paid interns every year to work on the farm.

The internship gives people a chance to learn what it takes to work on a farm.

The program allows people who think they want to farm a chance to see if it's a career choice they actually want.

"We teach them, or just show them what the lifestyle is like, where you need to be, thinking wise and perspective wise. Farming isn't that 9-5 job. It's all day long," Cure said.

The interns are full-time employees, working up to 70 hours a week during the peak season. They're planting, harvesting, writing crop plans and learning how to use farm equipment. It's a crash course on farm work.

"You have these people in their mid-20s having so much passion and so much excitement for it. The education is non-stop for them. It fills them up and tires them out," Cure said.

COMMUNITY

There is a lot of support for local, natural and organic products in Boulder County. That's part of what makes the Cure Organic Farm work. With a small shop on the property, the only way customers can get fresher produce is by eating it from the field as soon as it's harvested.

But the most common way local folks enjoy food from Cure Organic is through the Community Supported Agriculture program.

Cure says that being part of the program isn't necessarily convenient for everyone. It's not a burden by any means, but going to the farm isn't necessarily a stop on most people's trip home, nor can people get other groceries in one stop.

But getting produce directly from the farm and knowing where it's coming from is worth going a few minutes out of their way.

And many of those families return from year-to-year.

"There's a lot of reasons not to do a CSA, but we still have 200 families every year that come back and are with us, and I think that's because of the community impact," she said. "I get to see their kids grow, and it feels really awesome that we get to feed their families and see them over time and they get to do the same with us. But that connection is really important; the relationship part of it." ❖

Cure Organic Farm

The farm store is open May through December. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The store is at 7450 Valmont Road in Boulder, Colo.

For more information go to the farm’s website.

Community Supported Agriculture

Cure Organic Farm is part of the CSA program. Pick-ups are 4-7 p.m. Wednesdays at either the farm store, 7450 Valmont Road, Boulder, Colo., or at the Boulder Farmers Market, 13th St., Boulder, between Arapahoe and Canyon avenues.

For more information about available shares and dates, or to sign up, go to the farm’s website.