From desert to oasis
On July 16, the Greeley-Weld County Chamber of Commerce’s Agricultural Committee brought farmers and city folks together to learn about the process, product, procedures and problems of sharing water.
The tour, “From desert to oasis: The story of how irrigation transformed the plains of eastern Colorado” took a busload of people around Weld to look at different places impacted by and using different irrigation systems.
Stephan Andrade of Evergreen, Colo., said he was looking for the best ways to keep farmers farming and cities drinking water.
“We just want to see what everyone is doing in terms of best practices and how to share this limited resource we call water,” Andrade said. “You get to see firsthand what people are doing that is always helpful as opposed to just reading about it.”
“Our state is only so big. With only so much water, we’ve got to learn how to share it,” Andrade said.
For a farmer, water is always an issue, said Jeff Wilson, executive director of the farm service agency. He moved to Weld in March from Oklahoma and saw this tour as a chance to learn about his new surroundings.
“It’s different here than where I came from,” Wilson said. “I just need to increase my knowledge base and this is a good opportunity.”
Like Wilson, Arnie Fiscus has a personal interest in agriculture. He has been involved in agriculture his whole life. He has a farm in New Raymer, Colo., and a ranch in Fort Morgan, Colo.
“It is probably even more important for city people to know about because they are definitely not aware of the problems that we are going to be facing in the future with water,” Fiscus said.
In 1994, Weld had 18,799 acres in vegetable production. That was three times larger than Adams County and more than double the San Luis Valley. However, because of water concerns during the past few years, vegetable acreage has been limited.
Rob Piotrowski of Ault, Colo., is one of those city guys increasing his awareness. He said this tour is important because it allowed him to know where his food comes from.
“I don’t think most people in the city even consider where it comes from,” he said. “It’s at the store, you buy it, and you’re good.”
Cory Gardner, R-Yuma, who serves on the Legislature’s agricultural committee and is running for Congress in 4th Congressional District, said the tour was eye-opening to the role northern Colorado plays in the world’s food supply.
Garner said it is not only important for him personally to be educated on the matter but to continue to educate others as well.
“We in agriculture have got to do a better job in educating our city citizens,” Gardner said. “We get 70 percent of our oil from overseas. I would hate to see that much of our food come from overseas.”