Urban Thistle Farm & Market broke ground at 1014 Glenarm yesterday afternoon.

The former North Casper Elementary School site is a 4-acre property that has sat empty for nearly 10 years–"holding the promise of a bright future quietly in its emptiness" stated the owners, Casper Housing Authority (CHA), who purchased the property from the Natrona County School District.

The vision for an urban farm, grocery store, and community center came from colleagues Kim Summerall-Wright, Joe Dedic, and Jamie Purcell.

"This week the celebration of a decade long dream begins," wrote the group leading up to the ground breaking ceremony on Wednesday.

Urban Thistle Farm & Market is being led by a group of individuals and bolstered by the support of the Casper Housing Authority and its non-profit arm CARES.

The goal is for this new food hub to become a center point of local food access, production, and sales.

This project was first announced in 2021. Now, three years later it's officially happening; it is expected to be complete this year, but the organization is hoping sections will be ready for use by the end of the summer.

At first CHA thought they would turn the former school into a hub with all the CHA services in one location, but a "more appropriate location presented itself" at the former Willard School on Elk street, which the organization says is more centrally located for all the diverse populations they serve.

Thus, CHA bought the former Willard School and is in the process of converting that facility to their forever home. The Willard Envision Center will house all housing administrative services, mail boxes for homeless neighbors, CHAnge Course Career Center, an early learning center, an edible playground, and more.

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