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Farm and Food Forum

Posted in Ranch Report

Christian and I recently traveled to Montrose, CO to attend the 3rd annual Western Colorado Food and Farm Forum. This was both of our first times attending a farming conference of any sort and neither of us quite knew what we were in for.

We arrived early in the morning for registration and upon entry discovered a room full of electricity. We were surprised by amount of excitement and conversation happening at 8AM! Immediately after receiving our conference materials, we met and chatted with a slew of agriculture organizations, farmers, and gardeners from the Western Slope of Colorado. Everyone was eager to hear each other's stories and to share growing methods specific to our challenging climate. After only a few minutes of browsing and getting our bearings, Christian turned to me and said: “Now I know how all the comic book fanatics feel when they arrive at Comic-Con.” 

The day began with an inspiring talk by the keynote speaker, Bill McDorman. Bill, a renowned seed-saver, author, and activist, brought to life the incredible and powerful technology that lives within every seed. Every seed is a living, hibernating embryo that can survive up to 600 years dormant, and then come to life and even self-replicate! Even more fascinating: plants take in information from their immediate environment and then store that information in their seeds for the next generation to be better adapted and successful. This is how we have been able to transform a corn cob found thousands of years ago (which was slightly larger than a fingernail) into the large, sweet cobs we know today, simply by saving and growing the largest and best seeds!

Bill finished his talk by describing his time spent on the Western Slope. He shared how amazed he was by regional growers’ knowledge, excitement, and motivation to change food production systems. This energy resonated with us the entire day. As we attended each session (on topics ranging from year round cattle grazing to soil bacteria science to growing the most flavorful tomatoes) we noticed one constant—the local food movement in Western Colorado is growing rapidly! Farmers are excited to accept the challenge to grow in our climate, and to work together to build food security in our corner of the world. 

We left the conference feeling privileged to be part of the developing sustainable food community. All of us at Rock Bottom Ranch are eager to make our mark on the future of food production in this valley.  

~ Harper Kaufman, Rock Bottom Ranch Agriculture Assistant