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Aspiring farmers share learning, experiences at Mancos workshop

Guidestone Colorado hosts educational event
Elizabeth O’Rear, of the Colorado Tourism office, presents a program on agritourism at the Mount Lookout Grange in Mancos on Feb. 24 as part of a Guidestone Colorado farming workshop.

Novice and experienced growers gathered in Mancos on Friday, Feb. 24, for a course presented by Guidestone Colorado, a nonprofit organization that provides agriculture education.

About 30 people attended the meeting at the Mount Lookout Grange to discuss topics such as agritourism and farm planning, The workshop’s goal was to create opportunities for aspiring farmers on how to get started.

“Our hope is that we’re helping people who are interested see if farming is right for them and what their next steps are,” said Jennifer Visitacion, Guidestone’s executive director.

Participants also discussed how to diversify farm portfolios and which kinds of agriculture are needed in Southwest Colorado. Experienced farmers shared knowledge with new farmers.

Mindy Perkovich, who grows vegetables just outside Mancos, said it’s good to see what other growers in the area are up to.

“Hearing from others is always helpful,” she said. “Seeing ways we can collaborate is helpful, too.”

Tiana Lemley, of Bayfield, said she wanted to see how she might get started, and was encouraged.

“There are a lot more younger people here than I anticipated,” she said. “It shows farming is not a dying field, it just needs some support.”

Dave Hodges, of Nucla, recently started a small orchard and now sees a potential for livestock and poultry. He attended the workshop to learn about resources and getting started.

Sophia Kusumoto-Puryear is working in McElmo Canyon as an intern with World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. She was interested in how to make local food more accessible, and how different farmers think and share their varied philosophies.

“There’s not just one way to learn a certain thing,” she said.

Raymond Wharton, who lives in the Mancos Valley, said he attended to for broad picture of the region’s agriculture. Growers are constantly trying to keep up with trends, he said.

“A theme that has stood out to me is how much farmers have to deal with larger society,” he said.

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