For each American farmer younger than 25, five are older than 75. As farmers consider retirement, many find themselves forced to sell their land to development rather than to a future generation of farmers. This means more land removed from production agriculture.
Last year, Colorado Open Lands took steps to address this problem when the accredited land trust finalized its first conservation easement on the 72-acre Dixon Station farm in Wellington, Colorado, owned by Poudre Valley Community Farms.
PVCF is a grassroots cooperative founded to protect the future of local food production in northern Colorado. The cooperative addresses a major agricultural challenge in the U.S.— affordable land access — by purchasing or leasing land, protecting it and providing careerlong leases to farmers and ranchers.
“A key method to make land affordable for the cooperative is the conservation easement. PVCF has partnered with Colorado Open Lands to ensure the viability of the future of agriculture in the area,” said Leslie Volkar, director of communications for Colorado Open Lands.
PVCF entered a long-term lease with Jodar Farms to raise free-range pigs and chickens on the protected land. The family-run operation sells its meat and eggs to many Front Range restaurants, as well as through a community-supported agriculture operation and at local farmers markets.
A model for future land protection in Colorado, the conservation easement was supported by the Larimer County Natural Resources Department’s Help Preserve Open Spaces sales tax funds.