Harvest Farm residents cultivate faith in the potential of their own futures

There is no church at Harvest Farm. Nevertheless, it is a place of faith where miracles are not uncommon.

It is no ordinary farm, though on its 209 acres it raises all kinds of animals and a long list of produce, operates a CSA and donates to the Food Bank of Larimer County. The farm also serves meals to the 72 men who live there, made mostly from the food they grow.

The men work on the farm, in the kitchen, garden or servicing vehicles and farm equipment. Some operate Mom’s Closet, which welcomes anyone in need to help themselves to clothing. Others have jobs off the farm but some still are working through a program that includes counseling and job skills. Each man is struggling to escape from a lifestyle of addiction and homelessness — a common bond that brings them together and makes them realize they are not alone.

While Harvest Farm has no connection to a specific denomination, and welcomes people of all faiths, as well as non-believers, there is a strong focus on Christianity. The Farm, a few miles northeast of Wellington, is a branch of the Denver Rescue Mission in downtown Denver, which has been in the business of serving those with addictions for more than 100 years. The program draws participants from all over the U.S. and there is a waiting list.

Whatever a man may believe or not believe, if he abides by a few simple rules, he is welcome at the Farm. In addition to maintaining sobriety, participants must attend a devotion services Monday through Friday at 8 a.m., and Sunday morning church attendance is required.

“It doesn’t matter which one,” said Hannah Baltz-Smith, the Farm’s community and events specialist. “Sunday mornings are organized chaos.”

During the week, participants sign up for the church of their choice. The challenge is organizing drivers to the various churches. “We encourage people to get involved with the church they choose, and do things like joining an AA group,“ Baltz-Smith said. “The churches are very welcoming.”

The daily devotions service at the Farm is held in a building with long tables and a big coffee pot. Men sit around sipping and chatting until a minute or so before 8 a.m. when they rise and line up around the edge of the room. Someone up front raises an arm, then lowers it slowly, indicating the service has begun and if you’re not there now, you’re late.

“It’s one of the things these guys need to learn,” Baltz-Smith said.

The service consists of a rousing hymn and then prayers for people in need as identified by participants who ask prayers for their loved ones. The service ends with a Bible verse and an interpretation by a Farm program participant, a recent graduate or a staff member.

In 30 minutes, the service is over and the men resume their chatting as they prepare to begin their workday, carrying with them a sense of hope and community.

Before Angelo went off to work at Mom’s Closet, he shared a bit of his story. Long a person of faith, he grew up going to church, but lost his way as a young person and did several stints in prison. It was while he was incarcerated that he learned about Harvest Farm. After two months in the program, he finds his faith strengthened and is happy to talk about it. After he completes the program, he wants to enroll in emergency medical training for disasters. “I want to do something that provides a service,” he said.

Another man, who did not want to give his name, has been in the program for three months and is currently enrolled in life skills classes. “I’ve been a traveling man,” he says. “I was around my kids only off and on as they grew up. Now I want to change. My kids are skeptical. I understand that.”

There’s no building called a church at Harvest Farm but there’s no denying the spirituality — in the air, in the conversation, in the caring — is to be found at this extraordinary farm tucked away in rural Northern Colorado.

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