It’s official! We are delighted to announce that PVCF has signed two long-term agricultural leases with the City of Fort Collins! The leases began on November 1st and include 150-acres on South Timberline Road, known as Flores del Sol, and 30 acres on West Vine Dr, called Kestrel Fields. These projects represent a great leap forward for PVCF, and we are grateful to all who have worked over the years to make it possible! Special thanks goes to the City Natural Areas staff, who have patiently stewarded this project through many ups and downs.
Our vision for this land is to continue to relocalize food production in Northern Colorado, focusing on access to farmland for local producers. This includes providing infrastructure as well as partnering with other organizations to increase producer capacity, develop education programming, and grow demand. We will begin by subleasing at reasonable lease rates to core tenants – established, successful producers committed to sustainable agriculture and local marketing of their products.
We are very excited that after five years of PVCF work, our first tenant on these properties is Native Hill Farm. While they continue to collaborate on the Montava project, Native Hill will immediately expand on to Kestrel Fields, the 30-acre parcel on West Vine Dr. This is part of the old Smith Farm and is adjacent to the wonderful community at Grey Rock Commons. There is also a beautiful barn where we will host lots of fun events (that day will come!).
The southern parcel of land, known as Flores del Sol, is much larger and will be more diversified in its use. First, we will sublease some of the land to established farmers through our Farm Commons program. Then, we are working with The Northern Colorado Foodshed Project to launch other opportunities on the remaining land, the first of which will support beginning farmers ready to start their own business via a Farm Incubator. Over time, and with our partners on the property, we will build other essential, exciting elements, including a community garden, multi-farm CSA, meat locker, educational programming, and a food hub. All producers, including those within the Farm Commons, Farm Incubator, and Community Gardens, will use sustainable best practices, with the goal of building and maintaining healthy soil, managing water wisely, minimizing air, water, and climate pollution, and promoting biodiversity.
We are working diligently to begin structuring programming and finalizing partnerships. Native Hill has already broken ground at Kestrel Fields, and Flores del Sol will be up and running by Spring 2021. Stay tuned!
One More Board Member Needed
It is truly an exciting and pivotal time for PVCF, and we need your help! The new land projects will be a massive undertaking, and we won’t be successful without your energy, knowledge, and passion. Regardless of your background or skill set, every bit of support is welcome.
We are still looking for at least one more Board member to help support the leadership of PVCF. This individual does not need to be a PVCF member but must be passionate about the Cooperative’s mission of providing affordable land access to producers in our community and vision of Community Supported Farmland. Elections will be held in January.
Now is the time! Please don’t be modest. If you or someone you know is interested in supporting PVCF in this way, please let us know. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss the opportunity and be more involved in this pioneering relationship with the City and growing our cooperative model of providing local farmland access in our community.
We hope you have a happy and safe holiday season, and we will keep you updated on these exciting developments as they continue to evolve!
CITY OF FORT COLLINS LAND
Last June, the City of Fort Collins released a request for proposals for 250 acres of city-owned land in south Fort Collins, seeking interesting ideas for agricultural development on the land. In response to this exciting opportunity, PVCF put together a comprehensive proposal for the land, including a farm commons for established producers, community gardens, a farm incubator, farm stand, educational programming, and more. We were delighted to receive word last fall that we have been selected by the city to manage the land for agricultural use and development.
Since then, we have been growing an incredible partnership with the city and city staff, particularly the Natural Areas Department. Currently, we plan to convert 150 acres for agriculture use including a variety of projects that contribute to a range of city goals. This project is a new use for city land, so we are working diligently to build support among important entities at the city, as well as with the citizens of our community. This includes bringing together local organizations, such as The Growing Project, to lend their expertise in making the project’s ideas come to life.
We are targeting 2021 to begin building out the land for use. The remaining 100 acres is a bit more challenging in terms of conservation, though it is still part of the conversation. Our goal is to build a vision for what agricultural conservation looks like on publicly owned lands, and use that as a model for other properties in the future. There is already an opportunity for this on city-owned property in northwest Fort Collins. We are pursuing the land in partnership with Native Hill and will be submitting a proposal when the RFP is released in June 2020.
Please stay tuned to future updates to the project thought our monthly newsletters and on this blog!
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.
The USDA recently released the 2014 Tenure, Ownership, and Transition of Agricultural Land (TOTAL) survey and Southern Farm Press has a good summary. Highlights include the news that 11% of farmland in the West will transition in the next five years and that it is difficult for new farmers to gain access to this land.
From the article:
“Access to land is one of the biggest challenges facing agricultural producers, particularly beginning farmers,” said Mary Bohman, ERS Administrator. “TOTAL gives us a chance to demonstrate the extent of the land access issue and provide realistic projections of future land availability for purchase or for rent.”
Here on Colorado’s Front Range, development is the primary pressure driving up land prices and challenging our young farmers who desire to work here. However, development isn’t the only challenge faced by food farms seeking affordable access to land. Investors speculating on a return from rising land prices are purchasing farmland in the U.S. and around the world at an increasing rate. While a handful of these investment companies, such as Iroquois Valley Farms and Farmland LP, prioritize the sustainability of the farm and the food it produces over immediate profits – though they are still making good returns – most of these investment companies seek profit at the expense of the farmer and our food. The article Buying the Farm provides a great overview of these investment pressures and the alternatives offered by the more progressive investment firms.
Poudre Valley Community Farms offers a model for community ownership of farmland – through the power of cooperative member-ownership – that allows those of us who are not accredited investors to play a role in preserving access for the farmers and ranchers of our local food economy.
He’s [Harold Wilkens and son – farmers] not talking about profit; the Wilkens, father and son, are making money. He’s talking about time and the condition of the soil, environmental impacts, and the quality of the food he provides to human beings. Harold needs an investor that will put him on land he’ll never have to leave, and not force him to “mine” it—his term—for the sake of predictable profits.