Young farmers in the Roaring Fork Valley

Spring at Mt Sopris Colorado. The Roaring Fork River is in the foreground and located just outside Carbondale CO.

From The Aspen Times (Scott Condon):

[The] biggest challenge [for Christian La Bar and Harper Kaufman] was rationing water. They have limited rights to a historic ditch that serves the property. They had to quit watering their potato and beet crops late this summer and hope for rain. It didn’t fall so their yield was probably stunted a bit, La Bar said.

La Bar and Kaufman achieved their goal of turning a profit in just their second year working 0.83 of an acre on the land owned by Mike and Allison Spayd…

The Saturday Market in Aspen has been a godsend for their Two Roots Farm. They have built a loyal following by offering greens and veggies different from what established farmers from the North Fork Valley in Paonia delivered. Aspen-area shoppers responded.

They also sell direct to restaurants and provide produce for Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) allotments, where customers pay in advance and receive bounty on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

“People are excited to see new farmers, young farmers close to home,” La Bar said.

There’s been a mini-explosion of young entrepreneurs getting into agriculture in the Roaring Fork Valley. A documentary on their trials and travails, “How We Grow,” is being made by valley residents Tomas Zuccareno and Haley Thompson.

La Bar and Kaufman, both 26, worked as the agriculture managers at Aspen Center for Environmental Studies’ Rock Bottom Ranch, learning from ranch manager Jason Smith before heading out on their own.

Other aspiring farmers have taken advantage of the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails program’s interest in promoting sustainable agriculture and food self-sufficiency.

Cooper Means, 25, pitched a winning proposal for agricultural use of 10 acres of the 40-acre Lazy Glen Open Space parcel, acquired in 2015. Means’ Shining Mountains Farm LLC received a 10-year lease that started this year. He doesn’t have to pay for use of the land, but pays $600 per month for a small apartment attached to a barn on the site…

Means is focused on protein production — raising chickens and lambs on pastures. He’s also using two rooms in the barn to grow mushrooms. The demand for the mushrooms has exceeded his ability to supply them.

He said he knew he wanted to be a farmer since he was a 9-year-old student at Aspen Community School and did a mentorship at Sustainable Settings, an educational farm and ranch outside of Carbondale.

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