By Jesse Soule
Dedicated to supporting agricultural producers in any way possible, the Jefferson Conservation District (JCD) in Colorado provides technical assistance and educational resources to a variety of urban farms, ranging from cut-flower production to animal husbandry, through its urban agriculture program.
The district conducts informational site visits, helps landowners plan and implement conservation practices, provides critical networking opportunities, and facilitates the implementation of USDA farm bill conservation programs. Most recently, JCD began offering an urban agriculture internship to help expand the efficacy of the district’s urban agriculture program and provide hands-on agricultural experience to interested interns.
Throughout the course of their internships, JCD interns cultivate relationships with local farmers and landowners, collaborate with a variety of organizations, and help expand support for the district’s work with urban farmers. In addition, the interns have taken part in the development and implementation of a variety of educational programs and materials, including a showcase of their individual internship projects, which have included: (1) the creation of a book detailing the district’s conservation practices, (2) the development of pasture seed mixes to be sold through the district, and (2) collaboration with the non-profit GoFarm, a local food access company, regarding food distribution practices.
JCD interns also helped establish the district’s Equipment Share Program for local urban farmers, which allows producers to reduce production costs by renting district-owned seeders or roto-tillers. Given the success of the urban agriculture program thus far, both in terms of the internship program and the technical assistance it affords local farmers, JCD hopes to continue the program well into the future.