From the Fort Collins Coloradoan (Sarah Jayne Kyle):
Michael Baute, co-owner of Spring Kite Farm, knows his business needs to be flexible to stay viable in a shifting climate.
“I’ve staked my life on providing fresh, local food,” said Baute, who started his farm in southwest Fort Collins in 2012.
“It was super hot, super dry and I said, ‘Let’s start a farm,’” he laughed while speaking Thursday during a panel on climate change held at Colorado State University.
The farm lost its ditch water and was without irrigation until ash-laden runoff from the High Park Fire rendered water unusable for some industries, freeing it for farm use.
Baute said if he had not gotten water that year, the farm likely would not have survived. The following years launched a series of ups and downs, from floods in 2013 to a short growing season in 2014.
The farm endured snow on Mother’s Day, which Baute said is historically “when you transplant tomatoes,” and six hailstorms.
It soon became apparent that he would have to learn to adapt, Baute told those gathered Thursday at “Fort Collins on the Front Lines of Climate Change,” sponsored by Environment Colorado, CSU’s Student Sustainability Center and other regional partners.
Though the farm started growing only vegetables, Baute recently added a breeding program for pork and dairy goats to diversify the business.
“We have to build systems that are more resilient,” he said. “If I get hailed out this year, I still have pork on the market… I can build a system that keeps me out of bankruptcy.”
Ben Costello, “director of fun” at Fort Collins-based Mountain Whitewater Descents, said his industry has also started planning unpredictability on the Poudre River — the lifeblood of the rafting business. Up to 40,000 tourists go rafting on the Poudre every summer, Costello said.
Mountain Whitewater Descents, and other area rafting guides, were put out of commission for three weeks in 2012 during the High Park Fire.
“Frankly, we’re lucky to still be in business,” Costello said. “That’s a real eye-opener.”[…]
Environment Colorado representative Anna McDevitt said Costello’s and Baute’s stories are some examples of the local impacts of a changing climate.
“We are all victims of climate change,” she said. “There are multiple impacts that we’re feeling here in Northern Colorado.”