Can Conservation Easements Give Young Colorado Farmers a Chance?
Dwarfed by five stainless steel grain-storage bins outside the Root Shoot malt house in Loveland, Emily Olander gestures toward the horizon. A two-story cookie-cutter house with a white fence peeks out from the rolling green land. “See that?” 38-year-old Emily asks. “That’s what we don’t want.” The Olanders, who farm nearly 2,200 acres in northern Colorado and run a malt business that regularly supplies 150 breweries in the state, have nothing against the homeowners, of course. It’s the big-picture development they’re wary of—an encroaching sprawl that’s gobbling up farmland along Colorado’s I-25 corridor faster than older farmers can devise ways to affordably retire without selling their fields to the developers behind the ubiquitous mixed-use retail and residential enclaves.