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Vandals target family farm with swastikas, anti-gay slurs in bias-motivated crime

Vandals target family farm with swastikas, anti-gay slurs in bias-motivated crime

WELLINGTON, Colo. — Buses hand-painted with images of “Love” and “Peace” at an organic farm in Wellington were defiled with spray-painted swastikas and anti-gay slurs in a possibly bias-motivated crime.

Used as mobile free-range chicken coops and a tour bus, the Grant Family Farms buses had been colorfully adorned through a regular tradition at the farm. One of them was donated weeks earlier by Cherry Creek Schools after 70 children helped paint it.

Sometime between 9 p.m. Sept 7 and 11 a.m. Sept. 9, criminals passed a “No trespassing” sign and sprayed the messages across windows and all sides of three buses. Most of the messages were swastikas and slurs against gay people.

Vandals sprayed the buses with swastikas and anti-gay slurs
Photo by Dawn Madura, The Coloradoan.

Ann Grant Martin, a member of the organic farm’s founding family, who is gay, said the act was committed by “somebody with a lot of darkness in their hearts.”

“The farm is a safe place to work, and it’s a healthy place to work, and it’s a very inclusive and respectful place to work,” she said, adding that the vandalism is “really upsetting.”

No suspects have been identified, and the incident is being investigated as criminal mischief and a possible bias-motivated crime, according to Larimer County Sheriff’s Office.

Angela Simon, Grant Family Farms chef and representative of the farm’s community-supported agriculture program in Boulder, said the bus-painting tradition reflects the farm and its “vibrancy, beauty, nature, love and respect for the land – and who doesn’t love a fun hippie bus?”

She was at an event last August when as many as 70 kids helped paint the donated bus.

“It was just so awesome, because the kids were so excited knowing they were creating a home for those chickens,” Simon said.

She said the farm doesn’t have any known enemies.

“But I guess in every community, you’re going to find small-minded individuals,” Simon said.

The farm has about 10 buses which are driven into agricultural fields, where the chickens help the farm by fertilizing the ground and pulling weeds, Simon said. Hens’ eggs are collected from baskets built inside the buses.

The Grant Family Farms is Colorado’s first organic farm, and it sits on 2,200 acres, said Martin, who lives in Colorado Springs while her family operates the farm.

The farm each year donates “hundreds of thousands of pounds of food a year to people who are hungry,” she said.

The buses aren’t the only colorful component to the farm; hired artists have painted distribution trucks with fruits and vegetables depicted in eye-catching, sometimes amusing images.

She said the vandalism creates an opportunity to “reach out to those people who don’t understand and … are fearful of people of differing sexualities.”

“The people who did this are just very limited in their scope and understanding of humanity, because we are all one,” Martin said.

“We all live under the same sky and drink the same water, and we have the same needs.”

Larimer County Sheriff’s Office asks anyone with information connected with the crime to call dispatch at (970) 416-1985.

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