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Residents raise money, help with farm for family involved in fatal crash

A head-on crash May 21 killed Judy Rohwer, injured Heidi and Angela Rohwer and their nephew Zachery Berg
Judy Rohwer was killed in a head-on crash May 21 on U.S. Highway 160 near Hesperus. (Courtesy of Rohwer’s Farm)

Pleasant View Fire Department and the local farming community have come together to support the Rohwer family and their farm after the May 21 head-on crash that killed Judy Rohwer and injured Heidi and Angela Rohwer and their nephew Zachery Berg.

“It’s a big network that’s able to organize,” said Melanie Gonzales, Durango Farmers Market manager. “Fortunately, we are able to divide the work and all put our focus where we are best suited.”

Darrin Parmenter with La Plata County Extension Office went out to Rohwer’s Farm on May 24 to do an assessment of the immediate and long-term needs of the land. The farm already has peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and other crops in the ground.

Parmenter and Emily Lockhard with Montezuma County Extension Office are now recruiting volunteers to help with farm duties through the rest of season.

“They (crops) need to be watered on a regular basis, the greenhouses need to be tended to, weeding needs to happen. All of that land can still be productive,” Gonzales said. “It’s not going to be as productive this year without Heidi and Angela able to work the farm, but the idea is, they’ll get some volunteers out there to manage what they can and be able to save the plants that they can for harvest,” Gonzales said.

The purpose of keeping the farm running is not necessarily for income for the Rohwers.

“The idea of planting and being a farmer is to feed the community, which the Rohwers have been doing since 2006,” Gonzales said.

Lockhard is also helping to organize a “Meal Train” for the Rohwers. Meal Train is a website that allows community members to view a schedule and sign up to deliver daily meals to those in need.

“Judy made all the meals for her family. That freed Angela and Heidi up to do all the farm work and the fire volunteer work. They really didn’t cook,” Gonzales said.

With Judy’s loss, it’s going to be difficult for the Rohwers to integrate preparing meals into their busy lifestyles.

“We just want to make sure that is one less worry that they have for a while,” Gonzales said.

The Meal Train is open to those in the Pleasant View area, but may eventually become available to the Durango community, Gonzales said.

Durango Farmers Market is handling fundraising for the Rohwers. Gonzales has set up a GoFundMe page with a donation goal of $250,000. The large goal aims to alleviate the family from having to earn farming income for the year. Money will also go to memorial services for Judy, insurance and medical bills not covered by insurance, and to help replace equipment lost in the crash.

As of Thursday, $46,840 has been donated through GoFundMe. The page can be found by searching “Rohwer’s Relief Fund” on the GoFundMe site.

People can also donate directly to an account set up at TBK Bank. Checks should be made out to Lynndee Beller, for the benefit of the Rohwers.

kpercival@durangoherald.com

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