These Colorado programs are helping beginning farmers overcome huge challenges |

These Colorado programs are helping beginning farmers overcome huge challenges

The assistance is crucial as farmers in the U.S. are aging faster than young farmers are getting in line to take their place.

Moe K. Clark
Colorado Sun

When 37-year-old Erin Foster West was in her early 20s living in her home state of Montana, she thought she was going to become a farmer. But after being diagnosed with a chronic disease, she quickly realized the path wasn’t feasible.

“If the Affordable Care Act had existed, and I’d been able to access health insurance, that would have been key, but there’s so many of these barriers along the way,” said Foster West, who works for the advocacy organization National Young Farmers Coalition to remove barriers for the next generation of farmers.

“I would have needed land,” continued Foster West, who is now based in Denver. “I would need water rights and access to some kind of funding, whether that’s a loan or an investment. You need to find a market. You need access to state and federal programs. So there’s a lot that has to fall into place for someone to really be successful.”

A handful of unique training opportunities in Colorado are sprouting up across the state to help the next generation of farmers — whether that’s backyard gardeners or experienced growers — access land and water, adapt to climate change and create sustainable business models.


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