Expanding Horizons Farm teaches children about sustainable living and finding their sustenance in God | TheFencePost.com

Expanding Horizons Farm teaches children about sustainable living and finding their sustenance in God

A giant sunflower stands proudly as campers from Expanding Horizons Farm camp march by taking notes on what they're learning.
Photo by Lindsay Daley

Just two weeks before her graduation, a University of Wyoming professor’s Sustainability Rangeland Roundtable Organization lecture particularly captured Emma Englesby’s attention. The young woman might have understandably been a bit distracted by the upcoming big event.

Instead, she not only intently focused on the lecturer’s words but also simultaneously began to recognize another voice, an unspoken one from God. Something wonderful began to stir in her: excitement for a previously unforseen future.

As both of her teachers continued instructing, Englesby pondered about old-time farmers and ranchers whose goal revolved around long-practiced sustainable methods. Those, blended with modern technological ideas, tantalizingly swirled around in her mind.

She realized, too, that most of today’s urban children sadly lack a connection with their food sources. Obesity and other medical challenges result from a lack of holistic understanding.

Englesby shared that, as she sat in that university lecture hall, the Lord immediately imparted an entire, complex new purpose and path for her life, complete with a mission statement.

“I’d attended U of W with the sole intention of becoming a veterinarian,” the Truckee, Calif., native said. “It was now two weeks until graduation and my entire plan suddenly and instantly changed.”

The astounding revised plan she’d heard in her heart was to establish a kids’ ministry, complete with a mission statement: “To teach children about sustainable living and finding their sustenance in God.”

Although she did receive her bachelors degree in animal science pre-vet, and ultimately a masters in agriculture from Colorado State University, Englesby chose to pursue her new mission rather than her previous dream of a vet career.

Teaching some classes and cleaning houses for income, she worked toward her God-given goal. In May 2015, her summer camp ministry, Expanding Horizons Farm for kids ages 6-12 began; May 2017 saw the addition of a board of directors.

The primary definition of the word “sustain” is “to provide nourishment.” EHF not only teaches about sustainability, it in itself sustains produce; livestock; children’s souls, hearts and dreams. EHF is a model for Earth itself as a naturally sustainable (nourishing), life-giving planet.

On alternate weeks from June through August, 28-year-old Englesby now instructs day campers at several venues around Fort Collins, Colo. Several five-day sessions include a scriptural path clarifying humans’ God-given purpose in Earth’s life-sustaining garden. Youngsters learn in an atmosphere that includes fun and freedom to express their individual talents and interests.

MONDAY: CREATION

Held at Council Tree Covenant Church, EHF camp’s beginning starts with the Biblical beginning: the Old Testament book of Genesis. Each camp day’s activities build upon the previous one’s spiritual and hands-on lessons.

TUESDAY: PROVISION

Northern Colorado Feeder’s Supply in Fort Collins partners with EHF by hosting a rousing discussion on the ruminant digestive system (Englesby admits to being personally obsessed with cattle) versus human’s monogastric type; chickens; feeds and feeding appropriate for various species, etc. Scripture verses describe God’s provision for us and all of His creation. Kids learn first-hand about milling, the bulk truck, chicks and other functions of the feed operation.

WEDNESDAY: SUSTENANCE AND SUSTAINABILITY

Similarities between the fruits of the Holy Spirit and earthly, physical foods become apparent. Discussions include projects such as Zip Grow (based in a vertical hydroponics system); an amazing 12-year-old boy inventor who designed a method to recycle styrofoam; the footprint we each leave at our lifetime’s conclusion.

THURSDAY: PRAISE, PRAYER AND PROMISES

Seven types of praise worship are described in Old Testament verses. These and the Lord’s prayer teach kids how to connect with God. Promises He makes display His faithfulness. These uplifting revelations and more are shared at Smoke Stack Pottery, where campers learn to create useful pieces from clay.

FRIDAY: TREASURE AND HEAVEN

We each have a special purpose in God’s kingdom and, as on Mondays, the children travel to Council Tree Covenant Church to discover how that blessing connects with the fellowship’s community supported agriculture garden. Kids harvest whichever type of produce that’s ready to be picked while learning its purpose, and ours.

About the camp

Englesby attends Mill City Church, which “adopted” Lincoln Middle School about five years ago. The church pays for EHF camp scholarships (10 in 2109) for qualifying Lincoln students.

Currently, each summer session allows 10 or fewer campers. But Englesby hopes to increase numbers, group kids by ages, and expand to a year-round program.

The third step of Expanding Horizons Farm is a work in progress as well. Englesby is seeking to secure ownership of an 11-acre Fort Collins properly-zoned property. It’s the last such remaining intact original homestead in Fort Collins and includes a house, barn, outdoor horse arena, cattle pasture and more.

“I have lots of community support,” Englesby said. “Most of the land’s neighbors resist development and so would love for me to acquire the property. But I certainly need and welcome more support and help.”

Right now, EHF’s champions are a diverse and dedicated lot. For example, one of its board members is manager of a Horton Cattle northern Colorado feedlot. Through a valuable community partnership, Horton and EHF donated a whole beef to FoCo Cafe in Old Town Fort Collins. FoCo’s unique business model includes the opportunity for patrons to pay for meals or work off their cost, donate in-kind services and supplies, etc.

Englesby is also delighted to announce that EHF was awarded a “Best of Fort Collins” designation in 2019. She continues to marvel at God’s provision in fulfilling His promises. ❖

— Metzger is a freelance writer from Fort Collins, Colo. She can be reached at ponytime47@gmail.com.