Ag. In a New Age

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By Liam Adams


Staff writer

This one is called Kohlrabi, he explained, as he pulled out a green, rounded, root vegetable fortified by a spiky shell. Most people around here don’t know what it is, so only a minority will come to purchase the German turnip, said José Gutiérrez, a long-time farmer at Palizzi’s Farm.

Kohlrabi isn’t the only rare vegetable they grow there. They also have okra for the Southerners and specialty peppers for the Italians.

“We grow any vegetable from A to Z,” said Debora Palizzi, owner of Palizzi’s farm. The specialty is sweet corn, which is shown off each fall at the Corn & Chili festival, held at their farm stand at Bromley and 6th Avenue.

The festival is still months away, though. But corn – and other veggies - are beginning to grow.

Like Palizzi’s, another farming initiative – this time, from the government- is beginning its growing season. The District Plan, as it’s called, is an effort by Adams County and Brighton to allow landowners to have greater choice over their land’s use. Specifically, the agreement is meant to let farmers preserve their farmland in an area that’s increasingly developing.

Though adopted in 2016, the land overseen by the District Plan acquired a name, “Historic Splendid Valley,” in May. The city is just starting its marketing campaign and residents can soon expect to see stickers and signs around town.

The plan is vital for an area where, “there’s really good [farm] land that we want to preserve as much as we can,” said Anneli Berube, agriculture innovation specialist for the city of Brighton and Adams County, which oversees the District Plan.

Palizzi’s Farm, for example, knows first-hand the challenges that come with newly developed neighbors. In 2013, Solaire Apartment Homes went up just east of Palizzi’s Farm.

The residents, said Palizzi, complained about the plane that was used to spray the crops for worm protection. Eventually, the farm had to find other means, which was a difficult transition at first, she said.

Another issue related to development came when city officials asked Palizzi about digging a ditch through her farm field for water flow from tk development area. Ultimately, Palizzi was successful in getting the city to lay off the request.

While it’s difficult to change past development, Berube said in moving forward, “The hope would be that there’s a little bit more thought given to those kinds of [development] impacts than there was before,” because of the District Plan.

Another challenge the District Plan hopes to address is the minimal interest among young people to farm. Since starting in 1929, Palizzi is the fourth-generation family member to have run the business. As of right now, she doesn’t know who will take it over, causing her to fear about the farm’s future.

The District Plan, though, is sponsoring initiatives to deal with this issue, including a partnership between the Bromley Local Foods Campus and the Future Farmers of America.

Oher programs include farm tours for young people to have up-close, educational experiences with farmers and their crops. Berube also said the city has farm land that can be leased for young people to practice their own land management.

While Palizzi is ultimately supportive of the city’s efforts to support farmers, she wishes it was done 20 years ago.

Berube doesn’t disagree, either. For farmers who’ve been in town for a while, “they can look back and remember the farmland that existed that’s no longer there today,” she said. “They’ve already lost a lot.”

However, in a Denver metro region that’s been overrun by development, the Historic Splendid Valley has about 300 acres of land for conservation and agricultural open space. With that land, Berube said, the goal is to support as much agriculture as possible and not lose any more.