The science of food is sprouting in Terra – the second of three buildings to open at the new CSU Spur campus in Denver – and the public can get a taste of new programming at the unique, urban setting starting in early June.

The Colorado State University System, which is developing CSU Spur, will celebrate Terra’s opening June 8-11 with a variety of special activities for stakeholders, kids, and community members. CSU Spur is built for public education, research, community outreach, and collaboration with business and industry. It’s a destination for everyone – from K to gray.

Year-round campus programs center on food, water, and animal and human health, with the aim of shaping the future, in part by exciting K-12 students about college and careers in these vital fields. They are topics the CSU System and its campuses excel at studying and teaching – and are matters central to the globe’s most urgent challenges.

“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 Tony Frank, chancellor of the CSU System. “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 is a 60,000-square-foot building dedicated to food and agriculture. Visitors will find features including food research and development labs; an expansive test kitchen that doubles as a site for community cooking classes; a rooftop greenhouse and green roof gardens; learning labs for K-12 students; and high-tech chambers that produce vegetable crops indoors.

Many offerings in Terra are led by CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences, based on the flagship campus in Fort Collins.

“Terra has a critical role because it connects us to our food and the science of its production,” said Jocelyn Hittle, the CSU System’s 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. 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, testing, and marketing new food products.”

Even more, Terra will help connect urban and rural communities around food and agriculture, with the goal of encouraging people from all backgrounds – and with a variety of perspectives – to work together to feed the world.

Program leaders hope CSU Spur will enable Colorado State University and the CSU System to better serve a diverse community of stakeholders. They expect the campus to become a convening place, where academia, government, and industry come together to co-create solutions for grand challenges.

“Spur is going to provide new ways for us to fulfill our land-grant promise, both in research and in educational access,” said Jim Bradeen, Colorado State University’s associate vice president for CSU Spur strategy. “Terra, in particular, underscores the importance of agriculture and food in Colorado – and our long history with agriculture in the state.”

Terra’s inauguration follows that of Vida, a building featuring programs related to animal and human health, which opened in January. Its launch precedes the opening of Hydro, which is dedicated to water and is the third building to rise at CSU Spur; Hydro’s debut is set next January, just before the 2023 National Western Stock Show.

The Colorado General Assembly allocated $250 million to the CSU System to develop Spur and related programs. Planning and construction have been underway for nearly a decade.

CSU Spur serves as the educational anchor at the National Western Center, which is a redevelopment of the historic grounds of the National Western Stock Show in north Denver into a site for year-round entertainment, education, and innovation.

The CSU System is a founding partner in the National Western Center. It joins the city and county of Denver, the Western Stock Show Association, History Colorado, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Together, the organizations are carrying the site into the future with new, forward-looking programming.

Involvement of the CSU System is notable in part because its flagship campus in Fort Collins has partnered with the National Western Stock Show to advance education and innovations in food and agriculture since the stock show debuted in 1906. That year, hundreds of college students rode the train from Fort Collins to the Denver stockyards to evaluate animals and exhibit livestock from the college herd. A 1,150-pound Shorthorn from the college named Yampa was the stock show’s first grand champion steer.

In the past four decades, more than 1,000 CSU students studying agriculture and veterinary medicine have earned scholarships from the National Western Scholarship Trust. And many alumni and faculty leaders also have held leadership roles with the stock show.

“The opening of the CSU Spur campus marks a new era for the partnership between the university and the stock show,” said James Pritchett, dean of CSU’s College of Agricultural Sciences. “Our programs in the Terra building will elevate CSU as the premier steward of agricultural literacy and innovation. This is an exciting step because we’ll be able to connect with entirely new audiences around food and agriculture to foster agricultural education, sustainable food systems, and climate resiliency.”