The Excelsior Food Hub (Arkansas Valley Organic Growers - AVOG), in partnership with the Colorado Tourism Office, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union and Guidestone Colorado, is co-hosting a Farm & Field Experience for beginning and expanding farmers and ranchers.

The tours will take place 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. May 17 at Excelsior Farmers Exchange, Larga Vista Ranch, and Hobbs & Meyer Farms.

“This exciting initiative is not only an investment in the next generation of farmers and ranchers but in the future of our state’s agricultural and agritourism economy, too,” said Elizabeth O’Rear, manager of CTO's Heritage & Agritourism Program.

“The Colorado Tourism Office is proud to partner with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Guidestone Colorado and Arkansas Valley Organic Growers to build on the success of existing programs in the state by increasing resources and enhancing opportunities to help Colorado’s newest producers expand their work and more quickly achieve success.”

Through a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Progra,, these farm & field experiences, in conjunction with previously offered vision and scaling up workshops, aim to support and enhance the success of the next generation of farmers and ranchers in Southern Colorado. The three-year initiative will develop a coordinated education and mentorship program to help train early farmers and prepare them to enter emerging wholesale and agritourism markets.

The project entails three main integrated activities:


Visioning courses to help plan the future for these new businesses and ongoing coaching provided by Guidestone;
Business scaling workshops orchestrated by the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative Development Center in concert with Arkansas Valley Organic Growers; and
Expansion of a mentorship program for beginning producers.

"Beginning producers in rural and remote areas often have limited marketing options available to them,” said Dan Hobbs, Cooperative Specialist at the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. “That’s why this multi-year cooperative project is so important, to facilitate new choices, opportunities and resources for family farmers throughout Southern Colorado."

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program provides grants to organizations for education, mentoring, and technical assistance initiatives for beginning farmers or ranchers.

According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s most recent Ag Census data, the number of young people entering farming continues to decline, but the number of new farmers and ranchers over the age of 35 rises, as does the number of  smaller farms and ranches nationwide.

Ensuring there will be a “new generation” of beginning farmers and ranchers - regardless of age or production choice - is especially important to the continuation of agricultural  production in the United States.

For more information and preregistration (required), go to GuidestoneColorado.org.