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Colorado State University masters student Oliver Fulton picks up a tray of lettuce while talking about the rooftop greenhouse with mother and daughter Jane and Sarah Rhodes during the opening day of CSU Spur’s Terra building on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, at the CSU Spur campus in Denver, Colo. (Timothy Hurst/The Denver Gazette)

Metro Denver area youth will get the chance to find out where their food comes from and connect with the state’s agriculture industry, with the Wednesday opening of Colorado State University’s second building on its Spur campus downtown.

“Terra” is on the National Western Center Authority grounds, 4817 National Western Drive. The 60,000-square-foot building houses food research and development labs, test kitchens, a 1,600-plant living wall, rooftop greenhouse and “green roof” garden, classrooms and “high-tech chambers that produce vegetable crops indoors,” according to a CSU publication.

The first building “Vida” opened in January. A third building, "Hydro," will include Denver Water's quality lab when it opens in January 2023.

University officials describe the Spur campus as a “free educational year-round public destination in Denver focused on engaging K-12 students, families, and visitors.” It serves as a point of collaboration between the business and industry communities with educational ones.

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Visitors talk next to a rooftop garden during the opening day of Colorado State University Spur’s Terra building on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, at the CSU Spur campus in Denver, Colo. (Timothy Hurst/The Denver Gazette)

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Speakers cut the ribbon during the opening day of CSU Spur’s Terra building on Wednesday, June 8, 2022, at the CSU Spur campus in Denver, Colo. (Timothy Hurst/The Denver Gazette)

“Food, water, and health arguably encompass the greatest challenges facing our planet and will demand the focus, imagination, and commitment of future generations, which we hope to spark through visits to Spur,” said Chancellor Tony Frank in the publication.

“Our goal is that Spur will become a hub that ‘spurs’ collaboration and innovation. The children who visit are the Coloradans who soon will be grappling with the challenges of sustaining, feeding, and healing our planet. We hope Spur will be part of the future they build.”

Terra officials are looking to host community cooking classes. Much of the programming is shaped by CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences.

“Terra has a critical role, because it connects us to our food and the science of its production,” said Jocelyn Hittle, assistant vice chancellor for CSU Spur. “Terra’s programs are designed to develop agricultural innovations, link visitors to the people who dedicate their lives to growing our food, and ensure sustainable food production.”

Visitors will witness “researchers testing temperature, humidity, and carbon dioxide variables to maximize crop yields inside growth chambers or watch entrepreneurs and CSU scientists develop meat, dairy, and fruit and vegetable products in state-of-the-art food labs.”

Opening week events:

• Kids Day, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, includes food tastings and a chance to see the CSU Bug Zoo.

• Community, Family and Friends Day, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, includes a community art project and interactive exhibits.

The National Western Center Authority was created in 2015 with an agreement between the Western Stock Show Association — which puts on the National Western Stock Show — the CSU System and the City and County of Denver.

Vida includes the Temple Grandin Equine Center for equine assisted-services program — where people receive therapy by working with horses as well as sports medicine and therapy for the horses themselves. It also has a subsidized Denver Dumb Friends League veterinary hospital for those unable to pay for pet surgeries.

Terra was designed by Anderson Mason Dale Architects of Denver. The “Art at Terra” exhibit includes works by area artists Patrick Marold and Sandra Fettingis.

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