PVCF News | 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!

2020 Member Update & Letter from the Executive Director

Check out our recorded member update to catch up on what we have been working on!

Letter from the Executive Director, Clinton Wilson

First, we are sad that we are not able to all meet in person right now and look forward to rescheduling for a time later this year for us to gather and lift a glass to all the things that PVCF is doing and has done over the past year. Regardless of our ability to meet in person, your contributions and participation in allowing PVCF to exist speaks loud to this time of social distancing and the power of people coming together to make an impact for good on this planet and our community.  We also want to celebrate and make sure you saw the announcement in February about the birth of Evan Price-Jenson. Welcome to the PVCF family Evan.  

If you have been out Taft Hill lately you have seen all the beautiful rows of vegetables that are “Springing” to life at Native Hill farm. After a year of rest and soil replenishment, we are very happy that Native Hill produce is once again available for CSA and community purchase. Thanks to four members that provided interim financing for the new storage and processing barn. Also excited for the expanded farm stand and greenhouse that will enhance the growing and shopping experience this season. Summer shares are all sold out, but fresh produce will be available daily 10 am-6 pm at the farm in the new farmstand and at Larimer County Farmers Markets every Saturday through Oct 31st from 9 am-1 pm. Please visit Native Hill website for the most current updates.

If you head a few miles further north up to Dixon Station, you will find Jodar Farm full of life with chickens and pigs frolicking in the green pastures and basking in the Spring sun.  Lots of pork and pasture-raised chicken and eggs are available. There are a number of purchasing options.  Jodar has added organic pasture-raised chicken back in the mix this year and a reminder that chicken is only available to CSA members. They have also added an online store, as well, where you can purchase pork and eggs, with a few different pick-up options. Check out the Jodar website to sign up for their summer CSA and for more details on how to order and pick up fresh locally raised meat and eggs.

A few further updates related to Dixon Station and Jodar. As was shared in previous newsletters, the Dixon station House and feed yards are currently on the market along with 35 acres. It is currently under contract with a proposed closing date of July 16th.  This sale will allow PVCF to pay off the bridge loans that made the purchase of the Dixon Station farm possible. We are excited that the prospective buyers raise cattle and will continue using the property for agricultural uses. The board has been in constant communication with Aaron and Ria during this process to ensure a smooth transition to a new farm headquarters with new out buildings and yards that will be located on the north end of the 74 remaining acres. This new infrastructure will provide a significant upgrade to the current outbuildings and will help support Jodar as they scale their pasture-raised chicken and pig operation, and continue to grow good quality hay and alfalfa on the 70 acres of  irrigated  pastures throughout the growing season. Aaron and Ria have recently purchased a home in Fort Collins that was owned by Aaron’s family and moved out of the Dixon Station house the beginning of June.

One last note about Dixon Station is that after two years of working with Colorado Open Lands we have finally submitted the grant application to NRCS that will hopefully provide funding for up to 50% of the conservation easement on the remaining 74 acres. This will keep the land conserved as working farmland into perpetuity. This has been a long process and we are very appreciative of our Bridge Funders that extended our loans making this application possible.  There is a chance that we will need each member to sign off on this grant, so please stay tuned to future emails for updates and requests.

Many of you have been following the progress of the Montava development over the past couple of years. After a few big city council meetings (both big importance and big crowds) Montava was given the support and approval they needed by City Council to continue moving all processes forward. Due to the COVID -19 outbreak, the timeline has been extended a bit, but the Montava team is still working full time to get all things in order to bring this new community and agriculture centric development to Fort Collins. Native Hill’s transition will most likely be pushed back a year to begin growing in the spring of 2022. This will allow for another year of cover cropping and preparing the soil for a smooth transition to a thriving vegetable production.  For the most recent updates on the Montava development, please visit the Montava website.  

Another fun update is the ongoing conversation with the City of Fort Collins for PVCF to manage up to 200 acres of city-owned natural areas. Last fall we received word that our proposal had been chosen by the city to begin using these properties for agricultural use and development.  Julia Feder is heading up the process for the city.  We are hopeful that this will result in PVCF being able to offer access to this land for the 2021 growing season. Please stay tuned to future monthly newsletters for updates to this project. In addition to the City of Fort Collins the conversation we have also been approached by Larimer County and a few private landowners in the area about the opportunity to manage their land for agricultural use as well. This is a bit of a pivot from our original business model. However, it provides a more affordable entry point for us to fulfill our mission of providing affordable land access in our community.  By expanding to land that we manage but do not own we are able to keep more farmland in agricultural use.

The last update that hopefully you read about in the December newsletter is about the launch of the Northern Colorado Foodshed Project. The Foodshed Project is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The aim of the Foodshed Project is to support the comprehensive growth of our local food economy by collaboratively improving infrastructure, organizational capacity, and demand while cooperating with PVCF and others to continue the all-important work of ensuring we have enough farmers and farmland. PVCF has been instrumental in the launch, but the Foodshed Project is an independent entity with its own board of directors. The PVCF Board is thrilled to see the Foodshed Project come to life and we are eager to work together with this new organization on the important work of growing our local food economy, from farm to plate and everywhere in between. To learn more visit the Foodshed Project website to see what they are already working on!

Market Ambassador Campaign

We are excited to announce that the Northern Colorado Foodshed Project is partnering with Larimer County Extension to help create a farmers market diversity and inclusion program. Too often, language and cultural barriers mean that not all community members feel welcome at our farmers markets, and we aim to do something about that!

To support the creation of a Market Ambassador Program at the 2020 Larimer County Farmers Market, we have set a goal to raise $3,000 by June 30th. Thanks to a generous matching gift, every dollar donated will be matched up to $1,000. This means that each tax-deductible dollar donated makes twice the impact!

The Foodshed Project was founded to grow our local food economy, which includes increasing the number of people with access to locally grown food. A Market Ambassador will increase local food access for underserved communities by conducting outreach during the week and providing education and translation at the market. By donating to support this program, you will increase the accessibility of locally grown food for all members of our community.

While the initial need is to raise funds for a pilot program at this summer’s market, our ultimate goal is to have a Market Ambassador at all future local markets, including at the Winter Farmers Market. Therefore, all donations in excess of our current goal will be placed into a Market Ambassador fund to provide support for the program for years to come.To donate, please click the button above or visit our How to Help page and select “Market Ambassador” as your donation allocation option. 

Every dollar will have an impact and goes a long way to growing a vibrant local food economy in Northern Colorado. We are grateful for your support – thank you!

Support Local

Now more than ever before, it is so important to support our local farmers and ranchers. Below are some ideas for how you can help:

JODAR FARMS

Jodar Farms’ online store is a convenient way to purchase your eggs, pork, and lamb with weekly pickups in Fort Collins, Wellington, Boulder, Longmont, and Denver.  Summer CSA shares are also still available! This program helps fund the season early and support the farm through the current crisis.  Half and whole hog orders are also available for May and June, with limited availability.

NATIVE HILL FARM

Secure your summer CSA share from Native Hill today! The farm is full steam ahead and excited to be growing fresh, nutrient-dense food for our community. Read more about their commitment to health and safety here.

eFARMERS.org

Missing the farmers market and looking to support multiple local farmers and vendors at once? Check out the new eFarmers.org market featuring farm bundles full of local food and produce! Deliveries are on Sunday in the Front Range and Larimer County.

SHOP LOCAL

Don’t forget to support the restaurants and businesses that support our farmers! This is a very challenging time for the service industry,  so please considering buying a gift card to use in the future.  A little like a CSA for restaurants! Many of you know and love The  Regional, who is an amazing supporter of local food.  Click here to purchase a gift card from their website. Two-for-one idea: Jodar Farms’ eggs are carried at local favorites like Little On MountainLittle Bird Bakeshop, and Pig & Plow. Get your pastries, lunch, or dinner and a dozen eggs all in one-stop (or delivery, in some cases!) 

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/.