Land Access | Poudre Valley Community Farms

City of Fort Collins Land

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!

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.

Little Farmland Available for New Farmers

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.”

Development isn’t the Only Threat to Farmland Access

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.

From Buying the Farm:

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.

Housing Boom in Northern Colorado on Former Farmland

The Coloradoan recently covered the explosion of new housing development in Northern Colorado on lands formerly used for farming.  This article tells the story of the development pressures that will make farmland increasingly hard to find and afford for farmers and ranchers wanting to be a part of our local food economy.  From the story:

Ronald Ruff (former rancher) has watched farms in southeast Fort Collins switch from growing hay and corn to a new, more lucrative crop.

Houses.