A geographical separation from significant food sources makes the Gunnison Valley vulnerable to extensive resource use, limited food choices, and a disconnect from natural food systems.    With fertile soil and ample water, the Farm can make a significant impact in increasing our community’s food resources. The Farm will connect consumers directly to local produce and animal products without a large or resource intensive system of distribution.

The majority of our area’s ranchers are nearing retirement age and many of their heirs do not want to continue the ranching tradition.  The number one barrier to young farmers and ranchers is access to productive land.  The second barrier is lack of on-the-ground training for those without an agrarian background. A third key need is providing our community’s children with fresh and healthy food, and connecting them with the land.    The Farm will help to cultivate a new generation of farmers and ranchers to grow food for our community.  Our high-altitude education center will provide programming for K-12 school children, university students, and adults, addressing the need for current and future generations to be connected with natural and food systems and to be empowered to engage in conservation.

As our societies have urbanized and we have lost much of our connection to the land and understanding of how food grows. We have therefore lost our ability to be knowledgeable advocates for good agricultural practices, sound agricultural policy, and appropriately diverse and equitable food markets.  The Farm will demonstrate and teach tenants of cold climate sustainable agriculture to meet our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


info@mountainrootsfoodproject.org        PO Box 323 Gunnison, CO 81230

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High-yield farming is the industry standard, and is negatively impacting the environment.  The new Community Farm will utilize, model, and teach a management approach appropriate for the location and culture that enhances the environmental management of the property. This includes the use of:  Organic or better growing standards, Integrated Pest Management, Holistic Land Management, and incorporation of Permaculture principles throughout.

The key element is ensuring that environmental integrity is upheld during the production of food and education for the community. Sustainable agriculture integrates environmental health, economic profitability, social and economic equity, and learning from our area’s farming and ranching community.

Mountain Roots has been seeking a secure venue for modeling and teaching sustainable agriculture as an essential component of their work in food production to strengthen Gunnison Valley’s local food system.  The Farm is a long-term commitment and a significant step toward building a resilient food system because it will increase food resources at the community level, address local food security, conduct high-altitude agricultural research, support the development of the next generation of farmers, and serve as a resource for other food and conservation organizations.

New!  Community Farm

About This New Project

The New Community Farm will revitalize local agriculture through restoration and conservation of an historic ranch on the east edge of the Town of Crested Butte into an educational, working farm that will be a replicable model for demonstration of sustainable agriculture through active conservation and holistic land management. The farm provides a venue for emerging farmer training, for research and development of value-added organic crop products, and for the expansion of educational programming for children, volunteers, young adults, and community members. Development of the Community Farm is expected to significantly increase local food resources, to catalyze economic development around agriculture, and incubate small ag and food businesses. Above all, the new farm will positively impact equitable access to healthy, nutritious food and promote community food security.


Mountain Roots is currently working with a private landholder for a long-term lease on the farm property. Through a graduate fellowship provided in partnership with the Western State Colorado University (WSCU) Masters of Environmental Management Program (MEM) and with support from the Slick Family Foundation, a Master Plan has been developed and groundbreaking is set for May 2017. 

In this first phase, we will develop infrastructure such as our irrigation system, fencing, production space, and animal husbandry area. This first year, we will welcome our Farm Manager, two interns, and an Americorps NCCC team to develop these spaces and grow food for our community. We will also host several programs at the farm including weekly work days, and host groups and field trips.

Phase two of the farm site will include expanding our growing space and adding animals to our system. At that time, we will also expand our programming to include more community and farm to school events.        

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Increasing Agricultural Production

We’re responding to the growing demand for local, organic foods and answering the call to revive local agriculture and steer the future of resource use in the region.

Working the land in a responsible, sustainable way takes time. Over the next five years we’ll be growing on 5 acres of this 40 acre property.

In 2017, we will plant 1 acre of crops and raise a test flock of heritage breed chickens, but our focus will be on building soil fertility and improving water conservation strategies.


When we engage in Active Conservation, we act with the perspective that humans can have a positive influence on the land through intentional interactions.

Active conservation balances the requirements of management with the need to learn about the system being managed.  It weighs access to and use of the land with long-term management goals.


Stewardship is about inspiration: inspiring people, especially children, to love the land and care for it in a way that preserves its natural resources for generations.

Stewardship is actively caring for a place in a comprehensive way, optimizing the land for all the forms of life that dwell on or interact with it. Stewardship is service to something greater than ourselves.

There are many expressions of stewardship in the Gunnison Valley. Our area’s enduring ranches, public lands and conserved parcels provide a tremendous opportunity for continued stewardship of vital and sensitive landscapes that are among our most familiar and beloved.


In simplest terms, sustainable agriculture is the production of food, fiber, or other plant or animal products using farming techniques that protect the environment, public health, human communities, and animal welfare.

Sustainable farms produce crops and raise animals without relying on toxic chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified seeds, or practices that degrade soil, water, or other natural resources. By growing a variety of plants and using techniques such as crop rotation, conservation tillage, and pasture-based livestock husbandry, sustainable farms protect biodiversity and foster the development and maintenance of healthy ecosystems.

Providing Hands-On Experiences & Education

Our new farm space will be a living classroom where volunteers, community members, community groups, and school groups are able to interact with their food.


Our weekly work day allows community members to see first hand what it takes to grow their food, from starting seeds through harvest, and all the work and dedication in between. Community members can learn about our growing principles and methods, how we practice land conservation ethics, ways to grow food at home, and many other fun and interactive topics specifically designed for youth and community members.


Through Internships, Graduate Fellowships, and Americorps positions, we provide opportunities for  young people to gain field experience in sustainable agriculture combined with experience in other areas of the food system, including distribution, food security, education, and policy.


In 2017  the farm will host our Farm to Market Summer Camp, GCSAPP’s Choice Pass summer program, school visits, and  field trips.

We are partnering with Coldharbour Institute's Youth Development Program to help teach valuable skills to at-risk youth, including food preparation and healthy eating.

Improving Access to fresh, nutritious, healthy food

We’re working to increase the availability and abundance of locally grown food in the community by “sharing the harvest” with people of all economic backgrounds.

Our farm commits a portion of our crops to donation outlets including Backyard Harvest, Senior Meals, the Gunnison Country Food Pantry, to Living Journeys Cancer Support clients, and directly to families in need.

Mountain Roots recognizes that building Community Food Security starts with teaching a community how to meet its own food needs.