Blog | Poudre Valley Community Farms | Page 2

Relocalizing Restaurants

“If we are to become native to our places, the foodshed is one way of envisioning that beloved country.”

Coming in to the foodshed, Kloppenburg et al. 1996

On Monday, February 24th, PVCF had the pleasure of hosting the first in a series of Community Conversations, in partnership with The Northern Colorado Foodshed Project. The event, Relocalizing Restaurants, was a dynamic a farm-to-table conversation with Chef Kevin Grossi, Owner of The Regional, and Ben Pfeffer, Owner of Raisin’ Roots Farm & President of the Larimer County Farmers Alliance. We discussed the relationships between restaurants and farms, introduced the Foodshed Project, and answered many community questions about why relocalizing our restaurants and growing our local food community is vital. The event sold out within just two short days, and we are so grateful for the amazing community interest in the event. We look forward to hosting more Community Conversations in the future! Interested in seeing a particular Northern Colorado food system topic covered? We’d love to know! Email us at info@farmland.coop.

If you were not able to make it to this one, be sure to follow us on Facebook to get notified as soon as events are announced!

Montava Second Reading

Thank you to everyone who attended the Montava Second Reading! We are delighted to announce that the Fort Collins City Council voted to approve the Planned Unit Development. This approval enables the Montava Team and Native Hill at Montava to begin the design and implementation phase of the project. To read more about their commitment to our community, please visit the Montava blog.

January Events

Early this year we hosted the first of many member and community events in support of local farms, the Dixon Station Conservation Easement, and more. In January we had the opportunity to hold two great events on the same weekend.

Friday, January 24th the second screening of Dreaming of a Vetter World was hosted for the community, this time at the awesome Wolverine Publick House. And it was a packed house! All proceeds from the ticket sales went directly to supporting the Conservation Easement on PVCF’s Dixon Station land. Thanks to the amazing interest in this event, we will be hosting more movie screenings in the future such as The Biggest Little Farm, Farmer’s Footprint, and more. If you have a specific movie you’d like to see, we’d love to know! Email us at info@farmland.coop.

The next day, Saturday, January 25th, we welcomed over 30 PVCF cooperative members to a barn warming in celebration of Native Hill’s incredible new packhouse. We enjoyed an evening of community building, conversation, and shared a delicious potluck. We hope to host at least one member or community event every month, so be sure subscribe to our newsletter and keep an eye on our Facebook for event updates and announcements!

Dixon Station Update

As many of you know from our member meeting last Spring, one of the most important objectives we laid out for 2019 and 2020 was to pay back the loans that allowed us to purchase Dixon Station. The board of directors and Executive Director, Clinton, have worked hard on this all year and we’ve learned a lot as we’ve pursued various approaches in the past 10 months. We have worked with Jodar on a variety of strategies and have come to the conclusion that the best way to fulfill our mission to conserve this property, support our local farmers, and to be debt-free, is to sell the house and with it about 35 acres. Jodar Farm will continue to operate on the property and of the 109 acres purchased in 2018, PVCF will retain 74 acres, 2 irrigation wells, and 2 shares of North Poudre water. 

As much as the house seemed like a great benefit for our farmers, the reality for PVCF is that managing a house in this condition presents more difficulties than it is ultimately worth.  We are working with the county to parcel off the house and 35 acres that will be sold.  We will provide more updates on this development as we begin the process of listing the house for sale. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at info@farmland.coop.

New PVCF Team Members

We are delighted to announce two additions to the PVCF Team – Stacy Lischka and Gabi Graves. Stacy and Gabi are coming on board to aid in growing PVCF’s fundraising opportunities, community awareness, membership outreach and events, and more. Please join us in giving them a warm welcome!

Stacy Lischka, Grant Writing

Stacy Lischka is a passionate advocate for the potential of local foods to connect human and ecological communities. Her interest in the connection between local food and conservation began during her childhood on her parent’s hobby farm in northern Wisconsin, and has grown as she moved around the US, observing the power of food to connect people, land, water, and wildlife.  For the past 15 years, she has worked as a conservation professional in state and federal wildlife management agencies with a focus on understanding and changing human behaviors that have conservation impacts. In 2019, she started Social Ecological Solutions, a conservation social science consultancy aimed at increasing community capacity to encourage individual and collective action to support conservation goals. Stacy holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, an M.S. from Michigan State University, and Ph.D. from Colorado State University, all in Wildlife Conservation.  In her spare time, Stacy enjoys cooking, gardening, and hiking, typically with her 2 kids and husband in tow.

Gabi Graves, Events & Communication

Gabi is a recent Fort Collins transplant by way of Houston. She holds a B.S. in Business Management and previously worked as Program Director for a Texas-based non-profit teaching farm. She specializes in marketing, event planning, and strategic business development and is passionate about regenerative agriculture, food access, and supporting Northern Colorado food producers. When not writing or exploring the farmers market, you’ll find Gabi reading, gardening, or in the foothills hiking with her partner and their pup.

The Northern Colorado Foodshed Project

Since 2015, the board and members of Poudre Valley Community Farms have worked to keep farmland in our community and connect farmers to that land through affordable, long-term leases. In the course of this work, the PVCF board realized that, while essential, farmland and farmers are just one part of a vibrant local food economy. To better support the full food system, PVCF led the creation of the Northern Colorado Foodshed Project. Though PVCF was instrumental in the launch of the Foodshed Project, it is an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit with its own board of directors. 

The Foodshed Project’s mission is to comprehensively grow the local food economy in Northern Colorado from farm-to-plate and everywhere in between. It will approach any community need as an independent challenge and project, and work to bring together community stakeholders to identify the best solution.

Data from the 2017 Census of Agriculture shows that only about 1.0% of agricultural products produced in Larimer County are sold locally. Comparable counties with strong local food economies have local sales ranging from 10-20%. The Foodshed Project’s vision is to increase local agricultural sales in Larimer from 1% to 10% by 2027. Achieving this goal will benefit both farmers and our community at large, from healthier, more food-aware citizens to increased food entrepreneurship and a more vibrant restaurant scene. One of the first projects the Foodshed Project (with some support from PVCF) embarked on was to re-vitalize the Winter Farmer’s Market, and we are thrilled to see that come back to life. 

City of Fort Collins Partners with PVCF On Land Leases

PVCF and the Foodshed Project’s first project was born out of a request for proposal released in June 2019 by the City of Fort Collins. The request was for a comprehensive proposal to manage a sustainable agricultural project on 250 acres of city-owned land. The Foodshed Project and PVCF submitted a proposal and learned in October that they were selected to move forward. The proposal calls for PVCF to hold the land lease and place established local farmers on about 100 acres. The Foodshed Project will then work with city staff and PVCF to build out important food system elements on part of the property.  Stay tuned for more information in the new year and check out the location of the properties here.

We, on the PVCF Board, are thrilled to see the Foodshed Project get started and are eager to work together with this new organization and hope we can be a solid foundation for the important projects our local food system may need. 

To learn more about The Northern Colorado Foodshed Project and how to support it, please visit https://foodshedproject.org/.

PVCF Hires New Executive Director

We are excited to announce that starting August 15, PVCF has a new Executive Director.

Clinton relocated to Fort Collins in 2017 from Seattle. For the previous 6 years he worked as a director at FareStart an organization dedicated to training people experiencing homelessness in commercial cooking skills and assisting them to find work in the food service industry.  Prior to that Clinton was the owner/ operator of The Park Pub a neighborhood pub in the Phinney Ridge area of Seattle.  Clinton holds a Masters degree in Counseling Psychology and a Masters in Theology and Culture.  He is a big fan of cooperative business and local food.  He loves local coffee, beer and any opportunity to collaborate and discuss how a community can come together to create a place where everyone (land and water included) thrives.  He lives on 5 acres just north of Native Hill Farm with his wife, Constance, and their three school-aged kids as well as a handful of dogs, cats, goats and chickens. 

You can contact Clinton at info@farmland.coop.

 

After two years as a Cooperative, and over three years of total effort since the idea of PVCF was born, we are the proud owners of 110 acres of farmland north of Wellington. The closing was June 27, 2018.

We have already leased the house on the property and are finalizing the land lease with small animal producer Jodar Farms. For more details on the property see our project page: Jodar Farms at Dixon Station.

More importantly, PVCF is rolling out a new fundraising drive to replace the generous bridge funders that made the timely acquisition of this property possible. As this real work begins, we hope we can count on the diverse skills among our members for some help as we make repairs and improve the property.

 

Contract for First Farmland Purchase Terminated by PVCF

Poudre Valley Community Farms (PVCF) has been pursuing a particular piece of farmland for the last two years.  We have been preparing for and investing in organic certification on that property for over a year and in February 2017, we went under contract for purchase.

In January 2017, a concrete batch plant was proposed on a property just west of the farmland that PVCF was under contract to purchase.  Over the past couple of months, it has become increasingly clear that this concrete batch plant could pose a threat to our goal of making this a thriving organic vegetable farm. The potential impacts of dust on the plants (resulting in reduced photosynthesis and lower yields) and adverse impacts to farmers’ health alone may be enough to eventually make this farmland less suitable for food production. The outcome of the concrete batch plant application, the public process, and any legal action that may follow will not be known for many months. Given the significant unknowns and risk to the future of our project, the Board and our project partners – Colorado Open Lands and Larimer County Open Lands – mutually decided in late April to terminate the contract to purchase this farmland.

On the surface, this appears to be a huge setback, and there is no doubt that this will significantly impact PVCF’s timeline for acquiring farmland for long-term lease to our first farmers, Native Hill Farm. We will lose at least two years (last growing season and this one) toward the eventual organic certification of a property and the ramp-up of food production that was planned. However, all is not lost.

Much of the work we’ve done over the past two years will be applicable to another property. We will leverage our partnerships, conservation easement funding support and PVCF’s capital to seek out and purchase a new piece of farmland. While finding another suitable farmland property is time-consuming and by no means guaranteed, this course of action allows PVCF to focus its resources and time on finding a property that is much more likely to fulfill the Cooperative’s mission.

Thank you to all of our Members for their patience and dedication to the vision.  And thank you to all the interested folks out there that have contacted us with well wishes and support as we continue to move forward.

Our First Producers will Keynote Beginning Farmers Conference

Nic and Katie from Native Hill Farm – our first Poudre Valley Community Farms producer – will keynote the 2016 Front Range Beginning Farmers Conference.