Nestled in the Western Slope of Colorado is the Roaring Fork Valley, a 50-mile stretch of verdant land snaked with babbling tributaries—including the Roaring Fork River and Crystal River—that feed into the Colorado River.
In Carbondale, a 6,777-person town in the middle of the valley, these water sources fuel a small but rapidly growing farming community dedicated to sustainable growing methods.
There are many areas of the country that serve as a beacon to those interested in sustainable agriculture; my home of Boulder County, Colorado is one of them. But in the Roaring Fork Valley, the majority of farms are being launched by young farmers in their 20s and 30s—notable, given that for every six farmers over 65 in the United States, there is only one farmer under 35.
“There's been a mini-explosion of young entrepreneurs getting into agriculture in the Roaring Fork Valley,” journalist Scott Condon recently wrote in the Aspen Times. “They work in one of the greatest settings on the planet. It's a gorgeous, sun-drenched piece of ground surrounded by open pastures. Across the valley the brush on the Crown is turning orange, brown and burnt Sienna. Mount Sopris looms in full majesty.”
Carbondale is a prime incubator for these young farmers to share their ideas, successes and many frustrations (such as hailstorms and early frosts) of farming small plots in the Rocky Mountains. Some young farmers in this area, such as Erin Cuseo, founder of Erin’s Acres Farm, and Harper Kaufman and Christian La Bar, founders of Two Roots Farm, plant on less than an acre of land.
Filmmakers Haley Thompson and Tomas Zuccareno are chronicling Carbondale’s fledgling farming community in a new feature-length documentary, How We Grow. The almost-finished film recently received a coveted Redford Center Grant to conclude production, and just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised $24,000.
"Ultimately we want How We Grow to be used as an educational tool in schools to help inspire future generations of farmers and awareness around the powerful impact of local food in every community," explains Thompson. "This includes having it available to view online hopefully by next fall of 2018."
Watch the above trailer to stoke your interest in the film (and get seriously inspired about supporting local growers), and click here if you're interested in making a tax-deductible donation toward the project.