By Eric Heinz
Leaders from Colorado State University cut the ribbon June 8 on the latest building, named Terra, to open on its Spur campus, which will foster learning centers for producing vegetable crops and other agricultural information.
According to CSU, the 60,000-square-foot Terra at the National Western Complex has a living wall and vertical gardens, food research and development labs, a test kitchen that doubles as a site for community cooking classes, a rooftop greenhouse, and green roof gardens. It also has learning labs for K-12 students, high-tech growth chambers that produce vegetable crops indoors, and places for kids to play and get hands-on with learning.
“Terra provides a chance for visitors to connect with the scientists and businesses touching every step in the food system, from growing food to developing new food products, all with an eye toward innovation and sustainability,” said Jocelyn Hittle, the CSU system’s assistant vice chancellor for CSU Spur.
The university stated that in addition to getting the public and school groups to learn about local food systems, the Terra building will connect urban and rural communities around food and agriculture, “with the goal of encouraging people from all backgrounds, as well as scientists, policy makers, and business and industry leaders to work together to feed the world.”
“The main theme of this campus is around connections, connections between research and policy, connections between urban and rural,” CSU Chancellor Tony Frank said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “I’ll tell you what, I don’t know that we ever envisioned this. If these three facilities and the programming that goes on in them don’t make a dent in ag literacy, I’m not sure what will, so I’m very grateful for all of you for helping inspire this.”
The Colorado State Legislature allocated $250 million for the construction of CSU Spur’s three buildings, as well as resources at CSU connected to CSU Spur programs.
“A lot of things will grow in this building, but the thing that we’re most excited about watching grow are the young people who are here,” Frank said. “The main purpose of this building is to take those young minds, inspire them and get them off on a path to a wonderfully successful future.”
Frank said the building will provide education on how to address problems that could arise in the near future, such as the planet’s population rising with food sources being stretched and how to conserve as much water as possible to create and sustain crops.
The university stated that at Terra, visitors can watch researchers testing temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide variables to maximize crop yields inside growth chambers or watch entrepreneurs and CSU scientists develop meat, dairy, fruit, and vegetable products in the food labs.
The state funding provided was intended to build a space for research, teaching, and public use that is meant to inspire and engage people in educational, fun, and forward-thinking programs and activities,
connect visitors to research and careers, and share the resources of the university’s three campuses, according to CSU.
CSU Spur opened its first building, called Vida, which serves as a learning center for human and animal health, in January 2022, and the university plans to open the final building, Hydro, dedicated to water education, in January 2023.