BERTHOUD — A family farm south of Burgdorf and its water rights have passed to a new owner who will use the land to train future generations of farmers.
Lewis Family Investments LLLP, which has an address in Lakewood, sold the 226-acre property for $2.2 million to the Trust for Public Land, a California-based organization with an office in Denver, according to records from the clerk’s office and the Larimer County Recorder.
The land at 1001 Larimer County Road 6C, which is south of Burgdorf and south of the Little Thompson River, will be operated and ultimately owned by the Colorado Future Farmers of America Foundation.
The Trust for Public Land permitted the purchase with the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust, which holds a conservation easement on the property. The Colorado FFA Foundation will operate the site as an immersive agricultural experience for youth and the public along Colorado’s Front Range in conjunction with various youth-serving organizations, according to a press release.
Now called Lewis Heritage Farm, the arrangement will help the FFA Foundation begin running its educational programs now and eventually take title to the land.
“Our foundation is extremely excited to be a part of this project and expand our mission to provide educational opportunities for people to learn about farming hands-on,” said Don Thorn, executive director of the FFA Foundation, in a written statement.
Wade Shelton, senior project manager for Trust for Public Land, explained the deal. “Protecting spaces like the Lewis Heritage Farm not only helps to continue sustainable farming practices, but also highlights the importance of land and water conservation and the educational opportunities they provide for our younger generations. It is essential that all Coloradians know where our food comes from and how much our rural and urban communities benefit from agriculture and water conservation. We are grateful for the support of our partners, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust and the Colorado FFA Foundation, who will maintain and continue to develop this unique educational resource.
Buyers credited the Lewis family’s vision for the future of the land with the success of the deal. “The patience required to complete a conservation easement requires a vision for the future,” said Milly Fales, staff attorney at the Ranchers’ Trust. “Throughout this transaction, the Lewis family and all of our partners have worked tirelessly to ensure Lewis Heritage Farm remains a farm used to connect local students to agriculture, create a training ground for the next generation of farmers and connecting local communities to food production.”
Scott and Oma Lewis, the people behind Lewis Family Investments, said they started working in 2016 to find the future operators of the farm.
“Lewis Heritage Farm, dubbed the jewel of the Little Thompson Valley, has been in the care of just two families for almost a century. This year marks the 50th year of agricultural production under the direction of our family, after Scott’s father acquired the farm from the Alvin Stumpf estate. The farm has some of the best native soil and water rights in the area, including a controlling interest in the oldest decree on the Little Thompson River. We had three major goals at the start of this process: to protect native water rights from land separation, to preserve the farm as a working/teaching farm, and to pass ownership of the farm to a formidable perpetual owner. steward of land and water.
“We believe we have found this steward at the Colorado FFA Foundation. …We believe the Colorado FFA Foundation will be able to use this farm for the hands-on education and training of educators and young farmers to keep them at the forefront of their profession.
To make the deal work, the ranchers trust received a $2.6 million grant from the Natural Resources Conservation Service for the conservation easement. Funds from the Conservation Service were matched with a landowner donation partially incentivized through Colorado’s state income tax credits program for donations of conservation easements. The Trust for Public Land and the Colorado FFA Foundation received a $1.5 million grant from the Great Outdoors Colorado Board of Directors to acquire the farm and its water rights. The funds were also matched by $50,000 from the Gates Family Foundation.
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