As I drove through Northern Colorado on our way to Harvest Farm, I couldn’t help but have a comforting sense of home. The fields, corn, cattle, and small-town feel remind me of where I grew up in Ohio. But then I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the mountains looming in the distance and realized: I’m not in Kansas—or Ohio rather—anymore.
A few weeks ago, I asked a New Life Program candidate, who was planning on going to the Farm, “What makes someone want or need to go to the Farm for the Program instead of staying at The Crossing or at Fort Collins Rescue Mission?” He explained that it can be a wide range of reasons. Some guys need the seclusion from society that the Farm offers to get past whatever addictions they might be facing. Others have failed programs before or relapsed and the Farm exists as a deeper level of training and rehabilitation for them. And some simply volunteer for the opportunity because of their life experience on a farm or because the secluded atmosphere is going to help them best recover.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. As I pulled into the driveway, I was once again overcome by that familiar sense of belonging. Harvest Farm looked like a permanent snapshot of a fall festival near my parent’s home. It was refreshing.
After lunch, I spent most of the afternoon learning about the Farm and meeting guys in the Program. I was impressed at the wide variety of work therapy options available to the men in the program. When you think of Harvest Farm, you might think it’s mostly planting crops, raising chickens, and milking cows each morning. And that does happen. But there’s also a mechanic shop, fences to mend, goats, a small clothing and food distribution center called Mom’s Closet, and a full kitchen. The opportunities for the guys in the Program to learn new skills and have the satisfaction of working hard are endless.
I ended up spending a little extra time with two guys in particular—Scott and Scottie. I even helped them corral a calf or two while I was taking photos. Scottie said he’s done farm work before, and you can tell he’s knowledgeable and comfortable in his role here. Scott on the other hand says he’s never done this kind of work. He really enjoys learning, and when he’s done with the Program, he’s thinking about getting a job on a farm so he can work hard and earn a living.
The guys in the Program often impress me with their perseverance and tenacity. These guys have been through some of life’s most difficult situations, yet here they are fighting for a chance at a future. They’ve made some of the worst decisions possible, but they’re not giving up. Though some of our guys look tough and maybe a little rough around the edges, most of them are just happy for a chance to make a better life. And I’m grateful to be a part of it and to encourage and cheer them on.