Polis touts recently passed ag bill benefiting Colorado growers while conserving more water

Gov. Jarod Polis came to some RVF communities to discuss the future of agriculture and water conservation.

Cassandra Ballard
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Spring Born CEO Charles Barr, left, along with Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and Colorado State Rep. Matt Soper of House District 54 chat among themselves in the Spring Born greenhouse facility located just outside of Silt during a tour on Tuesday morning.
Chelsea Self/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Gov. Jared Polis made a few stops in the Roaring Fork Valley on Tuesday, ending his trip in Silt to talk about the future of agriculture and water conservation.

“We saw the future of agriculture today, the future of food production, and it’s a more sustainable future, which it has to be when we’re having these tough discussions about the Colorado River Compact and the changing nature of water in the west,” Polis said.

Polis recently signed House Bill 22-1301, which will utilize hydroponic indoor farming for controlled environment growing year-round in Colorado and use less water than traditional agriculture methods. 

“With increased demand and increased population in Colorado, and decreased water, we have to be able to do this in a more efficient way, and this is an example that’s already been done in Europe,” Polis said. “There’s three or four large scale facilities in Colorado; this the largest. and we’re going to be seeing more.”

Spring Born has no runoff and recycles all of its water, and it also takes the once-used soil in the growhouse and redistributes it to the ranch, which helps to improve the ranch operations, Spring Born President Charles Barr said.

The lettuce is then packaged onsite, lowering the cost of having it moved to a packing company. 

“Bringing all that value add on to the farm at a tax free basis lets farmers earn more money, and it lets them reap more of the rewards that they’ve created,” Barr said. “So that is really the thing that I like to stress about that bill.”

Springs Born employees carry boxes of fresh produce to a refrigerated holding room while state representatives speak with Spring Born CEO Charles Barr and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis during a tour of the greenhouse and packing facility on Tuesday morning.
Chelsea Self/Glenwood Springs Post Independent

The building that Spring Born operates in was a $30 million expense financed by the United States Department of Agriculture, and the Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy. 

“They do these loans for rural development and for agriculture,” Barr said. “So a lot of people don’t realize that if you want to do a sort of development in a rural area that’s not agriculture related, the USDA will support you for them.” 

The company has 16 employees, only two of whom moved in from outside of the county. Barr is ready to expand production to open on weekend days and to have a mirrored greenhouse on the opposite side of the building.