Ruckman Farm Conserved for Future Generations

Mesa Land Trust is pleased to announce the conservation of the Ruckman Family peach farm in the Palisade Community Separator Area. This story is covered in the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel here.

ruckman, peach farm

Al Ruckman with son Ted, grandson Nick, and great-granddaughter Ellie.

Al Ruckman, the patriarch of this farming family spent most of his life traveling with his engineering career. When it came time to settle in one place, Al and his wife returned to the Western Slope and made their home in Palisade. After purchasing their first farm and building a home, Al continued expanding the farming operation. Now his son Ted and grandsons Nick and Christopher are also involved with the family run peach farm.

Led by a desire to keep the farm in productive use over the long term and to have the future generations continue farming Al decided to place the farm into a conservation agreement with Mesa Land Trust. Through the agreement the 17 acre farm will not be further subdivided and no residences will be built on the property. The farm will forever stay in tax paying, productive open space. “I have lived and worked all over the world and this is still my very favorite place,” Al said “The conservation easement allows us to continue the farming operation and preserve the farmland for future generations.”

Situated along the Fruit and Wine Trail, this farm contributes to the local economy. This property produces an abundance of peaches that are sold locally and shipped all over Colorado and the mid-west. The beautiful farms also contribute to the Grand Valley’s quality of life and tourism industry. “The East Valley is an agricultural treasurer for the State that generates millions in both fruit and tourism dollars,” said Ilana Moir, Director of Conservation at Mesa Land Trust. “Locals and visitors alike can enjoy the farms as they pedal or drive by and can be ensured that the views they enjoy of this conserved farm which will always remain intact.”

Mesa Land Trust raised nearly $369,000 for acquisitions, with lottery-funded Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) providing $84,688, the Farm Bill’s conservation incentives awarding $205,452, and the local Community Separator Partners (Mesa County, Fruita and Palisade) added $68,800. The landowners donated a total of over $160,000 of property value, while the Gates Family Foundation provided a $10,000 challenge grant.

“The efforts of the Mesa Land Trust, Mesa County, Fruita and Palisade, and the owners of this beautiful farm are to be applauded,” said Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Board Member and Grand Junction resident Tom Burke. “Farmlands are important to our local economy and maintain a quality and way of life that has become the standard in this area. The Ruckman Farm is a wonderful addition to the Palisade Buffer of more than 770 acres of preserved farmland, an effort GOCO has helped fund for many years through the Fruitlands Forever Initiative.”

The Fruitlands Forever Initiative grew from the Land Trust’s long term commitment to conserving orchards and vineyards around Palisade. The Initiative seeks to protect an additional 500 acres of prime farmland over five years. To date, Mesa Land Trust has conserved more than 47 family farms and over 770 acres of prime fruit-growing land in the Palisade area.