08-25-17 “Innovating for Viability” Make plans to attend the 2017 Land and Water Tour of the Lower Arkansas Basin in Avondale on Sept 27th

“Innovating for Viability” Make plans to attend the 2017 Land and Water Tour of the Lower Arkansas Basin in Avondale on Sept 27th

Tour Overview:

The Colorado Foundation for Water Education, National Young Farmers Coalition, Colorado Ag Water Alliance and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union are partnering together to offer this one-day tour focused on innovative solutions for agricultural viability. Hear from speakers and visit operations focused on irrigation efficiency, soil health, adaptation for climate change, alternative transfer methods, water quality, farmland succession planning and more.

Participants will enjoy a unique local meal during the tour and will walk away with a stronger understanding of the local nexus between water and the agriculture industry.
Tour Goals:

Informed Coloradoans-
Help interested citizens, elected official and community leaders gain a well-rounded, objective look at regional water management considerations so they leave feeling more equipped to engage in local and statewide conversation and to approach leadership and decision-making roles with confidence.

Stewardship- Showcase the local nexus between water and the agriculture industry, including opportunities for working towards a more secure water future.

Collaboration- Convey the importance of partnerships in water resource management, water supply planning, soil health practices, and river health and the innovative water technologies surrounding the agriculture industry.

New Perspective-
Bring diverse audiences together to learn from each other and create an environment for collaboration.

Farmland Access/Succession- Discuss the importance of ensuring secure farmland access and succession planning for the next generation of farmers and ranchers in Colorado to maintaining the state’s agricultural heritage, supporting rural economies, and passing down stewardship of our land and water resources.

Tour Agenda:

Meeting and Parking:
Tour will start from and end at the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers (AVOG) Building located at: Confirming Address

8:00- AVOG open- Time to get settled and used the restroom before we board the bus.

8:15- Welcome and Introductions

           We will begin the day with a welcome from host organizations and an overview of the day.

8:45- Depart AVOG for the Rusler Family Farm (15 minute drive) 

           Bus Talk: Greg Peterson, Colorado Ag Water Alliance
Introduction to CAWA
Setting the stage and tour expectations



9:00- Rusler Family Farm Tour and Discussion,

          Speaker: The Rusler Family, Rusler Family Farm (40 minutes)

The Rusler Family has been active in agriculture scene in the lower Arkansas Valley. At this farm we
will learn about the local Bessemer Ditch Project and Study, Water Rights, Land Development and
Succession Planning on the farm and how those topics are incorporated into daily operations.

     Speaker: Jeff Goats, National Resource Conservation Service (20 minutes)

Jeff will speak to work he is doing to assess and improve soil health for farmers. He will show us
how he collects samples and what the current soil health conditions look like in the region.

10:15 Depart for Hirakata Farms (40 minute drive)

Bus Talk: Aubriel Jones, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union
                            Introduction to RMFU
Bus Talk: Matt Heimerich, Palmer Land Trust and Crowley County Farmer
                            History of Water and Agriculture in the region
Provide farmer perspective on owning a water system and ditch and land access


11:00 Hirakata Farms
           Speaker: Michael Hirakata, Hirakata Family Farm (45 minutes)

The Hirakata Family has influential in the creation and coordination of the Rocky Ford Growers
Association that was created after the listeria outbreak in 2011. We will hear about how the
the growers in the region came together to address water quality. We will also visit the
cantaloupe packing facility for the region and hear about how the Hirakata’s are involved in the
Catlin Canal project and how it impacts their operations and leasing water.

12:00 Depart for Colorado State University’s Arkansas Valley Research Center (5 minute drive)


12:15 Lunch- Catered by Christine’s Fine Dining- Meal prepared from local pork and chicken and local


12:45 Lunch Discussion

           Speaker: Mike Bartolo, CSU Arkansas Valley Research Center (20 minutes)

Overview of the research center and what work is being done there

How climate change is impacting agriculture in the region and considerations for future

1:15 Depart for Aurora Water Revegetation Fields and Lease Back Site (10 minute drive)

2:00 Aurora Water Revegetation Fields and Lease Back Site
Speaker: Jerry Knapp, Aurora Water   (40 minutes)

Drive by the revegetation fields and learn about the purpose of the fields.

Visit the lease back site- Learn about the project, challenges, and how it impacts the region.

2:45 Depart for AVOG (40 minute drive)

        Bus Talk: Kate Greenberg, National Young Farmers Coalition
                         Introduction to NYCF
Bus Talk: Blake Osborne, Colorado State University Water Institute
                         His role at the Water Institute
Basin Round Table Involvement and local update on projects included in Colorado’s Water


3:30  Small Scale Operation Perspective           

         Speaker: Dan Hobbs, Hobbs Family Farm (15 minutes)

The Hobbs Family Farm is a prime example of a small scale operation in the region. Dan will share
with us his perspective as a farmer on how his farm fits into the food infrastructure in the area
and how he uses different crop systems and operations for his farm.


3:45 Tour Wrap Up
Speaker: Stephanie Scott, Colorado Foundation for Water Education

         Final thoughts, feedback and discussion

Next steps and how to engage with host organizations

4:00 Tour Concludes