BOULDER COUNTY PARKS AND OPEN SPACE
Staff from CSU Extension in Boulder County, Boulder County Parks and Open Space, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks, and Boulder County Community Planning & Permitting collaborated to document top constraints to Boulder County farm and ranch business success and identify potentially viable proposed solutions.
Agriculture in Boulder County has unique challenges and opportunities. Farmers and ranchers producing crops and livestock in the urban interface encounter business constraints that create barriers to the long-term vision of sustainable agriculture on local public and private lands. Additionally, constraints are amplified for beginning farmers and ranchers.
In summer of 2021, this team created a two-phased survey process that first drew input from key farmers and ranchers to develop a list of known agricultural business constraints for Boulder County agricultural producers to rank in the fall of 2021 for phase one. 57 responses were received and then grouped by four businesses classes: 1) Beginning Farmers and Ranchers (BFR) (or BFR, 0 – 10 years of experience), 2) Non-BFR with $0 - $24,999 in annual sales, 3) Non-BFR with $25,000 - $349,999 in annual sales, 4) Non-BFR with $350,000 - $999,999 in annual sales.
Based on these ranked constraints, the team drafted proposed phase-two solutions with partners Longmont and Boulder Valley Conservation Districts, Flatirons Chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition, and Boulder County Farmers Markets (BCFM) to provide edits and additions.
To receive details of why and how ranked constraints were impacting farms and ranches, the phase-two survey included multiple text fields for typed responses in addition to a simpler ranking of named proposed solutions. Phase two was open for responses winter of 2022. The number of responses decreased to 27 in phase two, presumed to be due to the open-ended response text fields.
To gain confidence in these findings, the team sought verification of the summary responses from the same partners. Through small group discussion, the team received affirmative review of the findings from two of the three partners, with BCFM challenged to get broad feedback from its producers during the production season.
In August of 2022 the team released a report, Exploring Solutions to Boulder County Agricultural Sector Constraints, with the intention of convening a meeting in near future to share current progress and explore collaborations with producers and producer groups.