The Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative (RGWCEI) is proud to be the educational partner in the Center and Rio Grande Conservation Districts “Circle Project”. The focus of this collaborative project is to promote the viability of agriculture and focus on its long-term sustainability through soil health.
The construction of this agriculture education center was possible through the cooperation of local farming and ranching owners working with the Center and Rio Grande Conservation Districts. Long time spinach and lettuce growers, Dave and Martha Schreck, worked hand-in-hand with project partners negotiating a reasonable cost for the circle located on Highway 285 and the 10 North in Rio Grande County. Their belief in continuing the conservation that they had started on the circle and forwarding agriculture education general is what peaked their interest and brought them to the table. The Scherck’s have provided complete logs on the soil and water use on the circle, which will allow the districts to move forward with some great data!
Trinchera Blanca Ranch manager Ty Ryland, helped make the purchase of the Circle possible by securing a generous sponsorship grant from Louis Bacon’s Trinchera Blanca Foundation. His interest in the project and in furthering conservation through soil health along with the work he had done with RGWCEI and the conservation districts, as an agriculture education partner was crucial to its success.
The value of agriculture is understated for the average person. It has long been RGWCEI’s educational goal to change that. We have always focused on the conservation side of agriculturists and the value they place on the wise use of our natural resources. This will be the focus of the “Circle Project”.
Farming is a business and like all businesses there is work going on trying to keep a balance between the inputs, what it takes to grow a crop, and the outcomes, crop yield and marketability. This is tenuous. Ty Ryland from Trinchera Blanca Ranch knows this first hand. “We farm and ranch, and in doing so manage a variety of natural resources. The agricultural economy is vital to the San Luis Valley economy and for each of us in so many ways. The more we can get people to understand and support it the better we all are.”
The nature of the “Circle Project” will be multi-faceted. It will become a teaching and learning site for children to understand where their food comes from, and at the same time be able to do small “farming” projects on the corners. For the small acreage landowners, it will provide a place to come to get resource questions answered and attend trainings on rotational grazing, windbreaks and cross fencing. For the producer, the site will be a working circle - growing a rotation of potatoes and green manure crops, less the commercial inputs.