Grant to help preserve Palisade farmland

The Mesa Land Trust has received a nearly $160,000 grant to expand on its efforts to conserve Grand Valley farmland.

The Grand Junction-based organization will use the $157,700 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado to work with a Palisade farming family to conserve peach and apricot orchards on East Orchard Mesa.

This conservation project will expand on the efforts of the Fruitlands Forever initiative to conserve farmland and ensure the viability of the fruit growing industry.

“The family farms around Palisade are an incredible resource for Mesa County and Colorado. This beautiful landscape contributes to our economy and quality of life,” said Ilana Moir, director of conservation at the Mesa Land Trust.

From less than 2,200 acres of farmland, farmers export nearly 20 millions pounds of peaches annually. This in turn makes Colorado the eighth largest peach producing state in the Country, Moir said. “The small amount of land dedicated to fruit farming is critical to the continued success of our farming economy. We are working with farmers to ensure that generations from now, these farms are still productive, income-generating properties.”

Mesa Land Trust has raised matching funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Services and local partners to help fund the effort. The landowners also will donate a portion of easement value.

The Fruitlands Forever initiative grew from a commitment to conserve the peach and wine industry around Palisade. The goal is to protect 500 additional acres of farmland over five years.

To date, Mesa Land Trust has partnered with landowners to conserve 300 additional acres for a total of more than 40 family farms and 800 acres of prime land in the Palisade area.