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Support local agriculture

Dear Editor:

Congratulations to Scott Condon for his fascinating article, “Food For Thought,” and to the farmers and ranchers who are trying to keep agriculture alive in the Roaring Fork Valley. As he mentions, it hasn’t been long since agriculture was the dominant industry in the valley, even around Aspen where the altitude is higher and the growing season shorter.

In 1950, for example, my family bought a small ranch east of Aspen (now the North Star Nature Preserve) from Emily, Adolph and Alex Barrailler. At that time, they had beef and dairy cattle, horses and chickens, raised potatoes and vegetables, and even produced their own wine. To winter their cattle, they put up one cutting of hay each summer, using their horses. For irrigation, they built an extraordinary set of ditches along the mountainsides on each side of the valley. They were almost totally self-sufficient and consumed no energy because they had neither a car nor a tractor.

There was great support for agriculture back then. Like the Grange family mentioned by Condon, I remember school being canceled when I was 11 and 12 years old so that we could all ” Aspenites as well as farm and ranch kids ” pick potatoes for farmers like Stanley Natal and Rene Duroc.

Agriculture will never again dominate the Roaring Fork Valley as it did years ago and that’s not all bad. It was a grueling life for farmers like the Barraillers with few financial rewards. Thanks to farmers like the ones Condon mentions, however, there are new opportunities for the kinds of locally grown, high-quality meats and vegetables that you simply can’t find in today’s supermarkets. With community support, they will be successful.

Morgan Smith

Santa Fe, N.M.


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