Palisade farmer named to ag hall of fame

Harry Talbott, a fourth-generation farmer who joined with his family in developing one of the largest fruit growing operations in the Grand Valley, has earned additional recognition for his efforts.

Talbott will be among the four latest inductees into the American Ag Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame.

“I was totally surprised and very much appreciate being nominated to the hall of fame,” Talbott said. “The one thing I want to emphasize is that anything I’ve been able to achieve is because I’ve had my three sons working with me. Now I have grandchildren entering the business.”

Talbott, his wife Bonnie and 11 family members operate Talbott Mountain Gold in Palisade, an operation that sells peaches as well as apples, pears and grapes.

Harry Talbott will be inducted in a banquet set for Feb. 21 at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver. The banquet is held in conjunction with the annual Governor’s Forum on Agriculture.

The other inductees are Mary Lou Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Rocky Mountain Food Industry; Tom Kourlis, a former state agriculture commissioner who also served as the first president of the American Lamb Board; and Lee Sommers, a former professor and administrator at Colorado State University.

“We are proud to add four more outstanding individuals to the Farm Credit Colorado Agriculture Hall of Fame. The selection pool was very competitive,” said Ed Cordes, chairman of the Colorado FFA Foundation, which hosts the induction banquet.

Since 1989, 97 inductees have been honored for their contributions to the agriculture industry in Colorado. Their portraits are displayed in the hall, which is located in the CoBank Center for Agricultural Education at CSU in Fort Collins.

Talbott was honored for his contributions not only to the agriculture industry, but also the community.

He was a driving force behind the establishment of the Mesa Land Trust to preserve agricultural land from development and help young growers get started in the industry.

“We realized that the land on our end of the Grand Valley is a special microclimate, perfect for fruit production,” Talbott said. “The soil has been designated as ‘prime and unique,’ so my wife and I, despite opposition even from my parents, felt strongly that it needed to be preserved for agricultural use for future generations.”

Talbott also was involved in establishing the United Fruita Growers Association and served on the Colorado Lands Project and Mesa County Planning Commission. That’s in addition to working as a high school science teacher and serving as a Boy Scott leader.

The Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers also supported Talbott’s nomination.

“As I have gotten to know the Talbott family and have learned about their history, I think Harry represents the pioneer spirit which the hall of fame so wonderfully exemplifies,” said Robert Sakata, president of the group.

The Colorado Farm Bureau and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union supported Talbott’s nomination.

“An early supporter of conservation easements to protect farmland from development, he donated the development rights to part of his farms to the organization he helped form, now known as the Mesa Land Trust,” said Carlyle Currier, vice president of Colorado Farm Bureau.

Ben Rainbolt, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, praised Talbott and his legacy. “The Talbott family is a pillar in the fruit industry on the Western Slope. Harry took his father’s orchard and turned it into a very successful operation. The Talbotts were instrumental in organizing the United Fruit Growers Association, a member-owned cooperative.”