Fruitlands Forever saves 58 acres

With the help of the Mesa Land Trust, three parcels of land totaling 58 acres are protected under conservation easements in Palisade’s peach orchard country. This ensures the land will be preserved for agriculture. Mesa County produces 75 percent of the peaches grown in Colorado.

Three more parcels totaling 58 acres now are protected under conservation easements in Palisade’s peach orchard country, thanks to the help of Mesa Land Trust.

Thirteen acres owned by James and Laura Sanders are included in the latest easement acquisitions.

“We’re excited that the option is even there,” James Sanders said. “We’re excited about the idea of it staying protected. It’s nice to know there will be Palisade peaches on the property forever and ever.”

James Sanders said putting some of his land into conservation allows his family to reduce their debt on their peach-growing operation. He also hopes his 2-year-old daughter will one day take over the business.

Ensuring the land will be preserved for agriculture also helps bolster the peach growing community as a whole; and his orchard along Interstate 70 acts to visibly market the area’s peaches, Sanders said.

“(Visitors) may just keep driving if they can’t see it off the highway,” he said of the peach trees.

The two other recent conservation easements brokered with Mesa Land Trust include 35 acres owned by Avant Farm and Vineyards and 10 acres of farmland owned by Lance Hudson.

In an effort called the Fruitlands Forever Initiative, Mesa Land Trust has worked with growers to conserve more than 50 family farms and more than 730 square miles of mostly peach orchards, vineyard and farm land in the Palisade area. The goal of the Initiative is to protect more than 1,000 acres of farmland.

Mesa County produces 75 percent of the peaches grown in Colorado and 80 percent of the grapes grown in the state.

According to Mesa Land Trust, the peach industry generates gross annual profits of $16 million and generates $9.3 million in grape sales. The industries provide more than 450 jobs.


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