Posted on Jan 11, 2023
Last week we got an update on one our club’s favorite venues – The Farm at Lee Martinez Park, from the Recreation Supervisor, Bridget Brownell. The project started as the vision of HR Phillips, Fort Collins Director of Parks and Recreation.  His idea of teaching the growing cities’ inhabitants about farms and farming received pushback at the time because much of Ft Collins was involved in, or close to farms. Because of his persistence land for the Park was purchased in 1973 although it wasn’t until 1985 that the Farm started to become what we know today as a source of education, hands-on experience and family fun (especially for kids). Art Wilcox was the next force behind its further development, especially what would become today’s interactive museum.
Bridget’s long-term personal commitment remains her love for teaching youngsters. She (is one of3 ) full-time staff (with one of those positions currently open) . During the peak season (summer) she adds 6-8 additional part time employees. Volunteer groups and individuals help with short term projects. Special events occur throughout the year with Halloween activities perhaps the most popular.
Like almost everything else, there is an ongoing rebuild after the COVID lockdown. Nonetheless, the Farm’s revenue is about 85% of pre-pandemic levels.
Revenues come from the general fund of the city as well as sales in the gift shop,
Revenues generated come from (admission, class registrations, room rentals, pony rides, tours, hayrides, gift shop sales, and special events). These revenues along with general fund subsidy from the City pay for operations at The Farm.
A few questions followed leading to additional information.
What animals live there, and do they generate revenue?
Ans: Chickens, sheep, goats, ponies, pigs, turkeys, cows, and ducks.The ponies are the biggest draw and generate a lot of revenue through lessons and rides on the weekends, by the way, they have outgrown the horse shed. This discussion led to information on a recent addition “the proving-up house”. After the Homestead Act passed in 1862 “immigrants” to this area were provided land to farm for 5 years after which they could apply for ownership for a small filing fee. The typical simple house on the land was called a “proving-up house”. The last such house in our area was located on Horsetooth Rd that had been moved to the future site of the recycling center on Timeberline.  It needed a permanent home and it was decided it needed to be with the agricultural museum (aka Rotaries project) at The Farm.  The house needed a major restoration which was done at the site. It has become our speaker’s favorite place to teach youngsters how little a family needed to survive in the 19th century.
What is the history behind the name attached to the park?
Ans: Lee Martinez never lived on the current property but he was a prominent citizen of north Fort Collins and the name was given to honor his legacy. The Martinez family still hosts family reunions at the site.
What’s coming up?
Ans: the horse shed and garden areas will be upgraded. Since the site was a dairy from 1918 through the sixties, we have honored that history with milking a cow with the kids in the programs. Definitely one of the high points in the programs. Since covid we have been unsuccessful with producing a calf, fingers are crossed our cow calves and we can carry on teaching youth about dairy practices.
Does the Farm produce any farm products?
Ans: No.  However, animals that are birthed on site may be sold. We purchase piglets which are sold as well.
We appreciate this update and look forward to our club having future events at the Farm at Lee Martinez Park.