4th generation Palisade farmer honored for his conservation efforts | PostIndependent.com

4th generation Palisade farmer honored for his conservation efforts

Sharon Sullivan
Bonnie and Harry Talbott of Talbott Family Farms in Palisade.
Submitted photo |

Sometimes, it pays to make a fuss.

Harry Talbott and Talbott Family Farms are being honored with the Friends of Open Spaces Award by the Colorado Springs-based Palmer Land Trust for their efforts at protecting Colorado landscapes.

Talbott said he doesn’t know much about the award, which he’ll be presented with this fall at a ceremony in Colorado Springs.

What he does know is “we’ve fought a lot of battles over the years trying to save farmland,” Talbott said.

“There was a time when there was a great deal of (land) speculation. There was subdivision fever. They wanted to subdivide everything in the area.”

A fourth-generation farmer, Talbott attended hearings; he met with Mesa County commissioners; and in 1980, with a group of other Palisade farmers, founded the Mesa Land Trust for the purpose of preserving farmlands at the east end of the Grand Valley — the first in the nation to be founded by farmers. Intense development was going on due to the era’s oil-shale boom.

Two years later, Talbott donated a portion of the family’s orchard as one of Mesa Land Trust’s first conservation easements — giving up future development rights to save the land in perpetuity.

“It was gradual, slow, but as time went on it became a viable way to save farmland,” Talbott said.

Through conservation easements, many sensitive pieces of land in Mesa County have been preserved, he said.

“Once you do that, the speculation dries out,” Talbott said.

Eventually, the Palisade area became known throughout the state for its agriculture.

Founded in 1977, the Palmer Land Trust holds 75,000 acres in southeast Colorado as open space. Each year, the organization recognizes individuals or entities for their “innovative efforts at conservation and protecting lands,” spokeswoman Beth Byer said.

Talbott was among many nominations, covering a wide scope of projects, said Byer, who called Talbott a “trendsetter.”

“Over the past 30 years, Harry and the Talbott family have been at the forefront to conserve orchards and vineyards around Palisade,” said Mesa Land Trust Executive Director Rob Bleiberg, who nominated Talbott. “His family has conserved a lot of their land, volunteered countless hours to the cause of conserving the East Valley that is an incredible asset to our community.”

Talbott served on the Land Trust’s board of directors for 25 years, donated two additional conservation easements, and oversees a family operation that packs and ships 9 million pounds of peaches annually.

Talbott and Talbott Farms (three of his four sons are farmers) also promote the Fruitlands Forever Initiative, an effort to conserve a critical land mass to support fruit growing into the future.

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