It takes a community to save a farm

In 2017, Colorado Open Lands took attendees of Land Trust Alliance's Rally: The National Land Conservation Conference on a field trip north of Denver to tour a local foods co-operative. Four years later, we've finalized our first conservation easement with Poudre Valley Community Farms. The Dixon Station farm in Wellington, Colorado is now protected under easement.

By Leslie Volkar April 21, 2021

PVCF is a grassroots co-operative founded by local residents to protect the future of local food production in Northern Colorado. Their business model involves purchasing or leasing land, protecting that land and providing career-long leases to farmers and ranchers. This helps support their agricultural careers with affordable, long-term land access.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that 70% of our nation's farmland will change hands in the next 20 years. For each American farmer younger than 25, five are older than 75. As land increases in value and current farmers consider retirement, they often find themselves selling their greatest asset to the highest bidder rather than to a future generation of farmers. This means more land is converted into non-farm uses, forever removing it from production agriculture. At the same time, the desire for fresh local foods has never been greater.

The PVCF approach aims to solve both problems with this innovative approach of purchasing or leasing land as a co-operative. The farmers who lease the land also offer community-supported agriculture shares to co-operative members who have guaranteed access to local foods grown by community members that they know and value.

A key method to make land affordable for the co-operative is the conservation easement. PVCF has partnered with Colorado Open Lands to ensure the viability of the future of ag in the area.

The Dixon Station farm is just the first property that PVCF has conserved in perpetuity for agriculture. PVCF will continue to grow their cooperative membership and look for opportunities to leverage community-based ownership of farmland. They are hopeful that other communities will follow their lead in increasing local land and food access across the state.

Because it takes a community to save a farm.