Zero-Proof Happy Hour at the Farm offers alcohol-free wellness

The UCCS Farm is opening its doors for a weekly hour of mocktails. Zero-Proof Happy Hour is a new event this semester that takes place at the Farm every Thursday from 5-6 p.m.  

Students are invited to play bartender and mix a selected alcohol-free cocktail to sip on while participating in mindfulness activities and good conversation. Often, ingredients for beverages are selected from the Farm’s own crops.  

Zero-Proof Happy Hour is taking the place of Farmhouse Fridays, a program last semester where graduate nutrition students prepared farm-to-table lunches for students to enjoy. The featured drink for the Feb. 22. Happy Hour was an orange cream fizz, a bubbly yet smooth drink to partner with wellness activities about cultivating kindness. 

Wellness activities focus on positive mental health. Thursday’s worksheets asked participants to list acts of kindness they recently experienced, ways they can treat themselves and others with their purchases and reflecting on their support systems.  

Leah Patton is a mental health educator at the Wellness Center with a background in safe substance use. Rather than taking the traditional approach of deterring students from drugs and alcohol, she focuses on providing enjoyable alternatives, like alcohol-free cocktails. She also created the workbook that the farm uses for mindfulness activities.  

Zero-Proof Happy Hour bridges Patton’s passion for substance safety with her work to cultivate good mental health. She prints out copies of selected workbook pages for attendees to fill out while indulging in fresh mocktails.  

Patton toured the Farm shortly after she was hired at UCCS. “It’s one of the most unique places on campus to actually learn and talk about nature and get outside,” Patton said. Zero-Proof Happy Hour has allowed her to “take wellness outside of the Wellness Center.” 

The Farmhouse, formerly a residential property, was purchased in 2015. Polly Knutson became manager of the Farm in Aug. 2023. Knutson’s focus has been restoring the Farm and moving towards sustainable wellness.  

“We’ve been focusing on cleaning and creating an environment where plant health is our number one priority,” said Knutson. The Farm fell into a state of disrepair during the pandemic, and Knutson has been hard at work foraging for usable soil and repurposing neglected materials. 

Students are welcome to study in nature or pick crops anytime. According to Knutson, the farm provides “a place to talk about food, nutrition and have a hands-on experience where students can learn about food, growing and agriculture.” 

Knutson said food from the Farm goes through several channels: students get to pick crops first, and the remaining food goes to Clyde’s Cupboard, the produce cart and finally to dining halls and other programs. 

Knutson is currently working with Clyde’s Cupboard to start a farmers’ market, hoping to offer fresh produce to students on campus and fight student food insecurity. Knutson is also working with the Department of Education to extend the Farm’s outreach to underprivileged youth in Colorado Springs. 

The Farm’s calendar is filled with sustainable activities for students. Yoga instructors from the Rec Center will be stopping into Happy Hour to lead mindfulness flows in the coming weeks, Patton said. Knutson advertised the farms’ fall pumpkin patch for students to select their future jack-o’-lanterns. 

The Farm will also offer a variety of plants for students to take home and grow themselves during their extensive plant sale May 14-18. Knutson said students can begin ordering online starting May 1. 

In the coming months, the Farm will be welcoming baby chicks to provide fresh, cage-free eggs to students. According to Knutson, there will be a competition on the Farm’s Instagram to name the chicks soon.

Zero-Proof Happy Hour feature drink Orange Cream Fizz. Photo by Livi Davis.