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Old Fort at Hesperus
Address: 18683 Hwy 140 Hesperus, CO,
Email Address: ewwhittlesey@fortlewis.edu
About Us
The Old Fort at Hesperus, located near Hesperus, Colorado, is a growing and multi-faceted answer to farmer training in the Four Corners region. One of the few educational farms specializing in high-elevation desert farming, these programs are uniquely positioned to support farmers wishing to work in arid mountain environments. Welcoming everyone from college interns for brief summer experiences to incubator farmers ready to start a business, the Old Fort offers good (and challenging) growing conditions, supportive staff, and diverse resources for high elevation market farming.
Practices
The Old Fort promotes soil health by incorporating cover crop into the field rotation, both during the growing season and during the off season. Using cover crop minimizes the time soil is bare and protects our fields from erosion. We use tractors and/or hand tools only at optimal moisture levels to protect the soil structure. In addition to using cover crops to build soil, we sometimes apply compost and organic, natural amendments to supply nutrients to the crops. In previous years, we have used organic worm castings and organic chicken fertilizer.
Our primary method of pest control is to keep the plants healthy and well-watered. Healthy plants tend to resist pest populations. If action is necessary to control pest populations, we may release beneficial insects, and apply neem oil and/or diatomaceous earth. We manage weeds through timing of sowing and planting; using tarps for pre-planting weed suppression; removing weeds through hand-weeding, hoeing, flame-weeding, and tractor cultivation; and by using mulch, including straw, biodegradable plastic, cardboard, and woodchips.