A bushel of money for two farms
Two Palisade-area growers are the latest recipients of dollars from the state’s Greater Outdoor Colorado grant program to conserve fruit-growing land in the Grand Valley.
A 52-acre parcel owned by Christianson Vineyard and a 17-acre parcel owned by Ruckman Farm will benefit from a total $478,000 Greater Outdoors Colorado grant to place the areas in conservation easements.
The money represents about half of what’s needed for the Mesa County Land Trust to help complete easements on the parcels, said Ilana Moir, land protection specialist with the Mesa County Land Trust.
“In both of these cases the younger generations are wanting to take over the farms, which goes along with our mission to conserve these lands,” Moir said.
Christianson Vineyard, which sells wine under the brand Canyon Wind Cellars, is one of the first vineyards that greets motorists heading west on Interstate 70 after exiting De Beque Canyon. When the easement is completed, it will also help protect a half-mile of Colorado River frontage.
Working to preserve Ruckman Orchards also is important because the land falls within the Palisade buffer zone, Moir said.
Conserving a peach orchard also helps with the goal of the local land trust to conserve fruit-growing lands for future generations.
These parcels will add to Mesa Land Trust’s Fruitlands Forever Initiative, which to date has helped 31 growers conserve 771 acres of land. The program was started a few years ago when about 500 fruit-growing acres were protected by conservation easements. The Mesa Land Trust aims to double that number, placing 1,000 acres of farmland in conservation easements.
Workers with the Mesa Land Trust are applying for other federal conservation easement dollars and are looking to a combined fund from local governmental agencies that contribute to helping conserve land in the Grand Valley’s buffer zone to help with costs.
“Our goal is to conserve a sustainable industry, so that people can stay in business,” Moir said. “We still have some work to do with these two properties. It won’t be the end of our work out there.”