Ensuring the Future of Farming

In 1979, Rob and Clare Talbott purchased their first orchard in Palisade, with the hope of relocating from Golden to farm full time. Four decades later, they’ve not only achieved their goal, they’ve also helped ensure that others can follow their footsteps.

“It was working for my cousin, Harry Talbott, in 1979 that got me interested in orchards,” Rob Talbott said.

Gradually Rob and Clare added additional parcels to their C & R Farms, allowing them to move to the land and farm full time in 1994.

Twenty-three years later, the Talbotts protected 22 acres of Palisade peach and apricot orchards through a conservation agreement with Colorado West Land Trust.

The couple had previously conserved 59 acres of prime farmland with the Land Trust. Clare and Rob used proceeds from the conservation agreements to acquire additional farmland so that their son and daughter could join the growing operation.

“We believe it is important to preserve farming for future generations,” Rob said. “There is a lot of pressure on orchards to subdivide their land so homes can be built. Once these homes are built, the small orchard on the property can’t sustain the cost of the home, therefore putting the property out of reach of young farmers to purchase the property as an initial investment or an existing young farmer to expand. We want future generations who want to make farming their livelihood to have the ability to afford to do so.

”Palisade’s favorable micro-climate, prime soils, and senior water rights make it the most productive fruit-growing district in the time zone. “It’s worth preserving the highest fruit growing area in the United States with its very unique weather pattern,” Rob said.

The Talbott’s 22 acres marked Colorado West Land Trust’s 850th acre of Palisade farmland conserved through the Fruitlands Forever Initiative. This effort seeks to preserve 1,000 acres of productive farmland in the East Valley and provide a critical mass of farmland large enough to sustain the industry into the future. Funding for the conservation agreement with the Talbotts and other Palisade-area farms has been provided through Great Outdoors Colorado, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Gates Family Foundation, the City of Fruita, the Town of Palisade, the City of Grand Junction and Mesa County.

Thanks to the foresight of people like Rob and Clare Talbott, the fruit and wine industry has a stable land base for production. Colorado’s future farmers will continue the Palisade fruit-growing tradition as consumers clamber for the perfect Palisade peach.

By Elaine Matthews