Farm and Aquaponics Related Media
Local Nonprofit Blooming Health Farms acquires 2,000-square-foot building
Blooming Health Farms, a nonprofit startup in Greeley, has acquired a new facility to aid its mission of bringing sustainable agriculture to its community while providing counseling and job skills training to at-risk youth. The 2,000 square foot facility will be utilized to grow 1,500 pounds of vegetables weekly.
We believe agriculture offers the best chances to create the future leaders of our community,” Director of Operations Sean Short said. Short, who holds a degree in Molecular Biosciences and Biotechnology, partnered with Master’s level Clinical Counselor Ryan Smith to combine their goals and interests and create Blooming Health Farms.
The new facility will use aquaponics, a type of agriculture that mimics the natural ecosystem as closely as possible in order to produce more food with 93% less water and 90% land than the traditional farm. In this process, fish raised in tanks are fed a nutrient-rich diet. Plants growing in the tank filter the water for the fish, while fish waste provides nutrients vital for plant growth.
Sustainable agriculture is only part of Blooming Health Farms’ overall mission — it also strives to reduce crime involvement among at-risk youth who will staff the farm, with the goal of reducing their criminal involvement by 90% within 5 years. In addition to participating in cognitive behavioral therapy, these young people will receive job skills training in both STEM fields and soft skills such as communication and leadership.
“Blooming Health was always destined to be a place of learning,” Smith said. “Whether it’s job skills training, clinical supervision, community classes or exploring new methods of crop production— learning is at the core.”
Youth crime costs about $200,000 per individual yearly. Many young people get caught in the revolving door of the justice system and end up in a lifetime of crime and addiction, costing taxpayers millions. Blooming Health Farms is currently forging partnerships with local youth centers in order to change this and save Weld county taxpayers over $2 million a year.
Participants receive paychecks, food rations and cooking classes. They are eligible for a peer mentorship program to develop leadership skills and enhance employability.
“We’re turning desperation into passion — helping kids find meaning in a world where it’s hard to survive,” Smith said.
Blooming Health Farms still needs help from its community in order to achieve its goals. The organization is seeking speakers, donors and event planners in order to host an upcoming fundraising dinner and is also seeking funding and volunteers for a community give-back event. Those interested can contact the farm directly at www.bloominghealthfarms.com, or by phone at 970-518-5266 or 719-351-7287. To donate, visit https://chuffed.org/project/blooming-health-farms.