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Spotlight: Jeff Pieper, Eagle County   arrow

Jeff Pieper, Eagle County Extension Agent
Eagle County, a rural community located in the central Rocky Mountains, is reviving its interest in its agricultural roots. A combination of legacy ranchers and beginning farmers is building support for diversified food production in the area. Jeff Pieper and Eagle County Extension play an important role in educating the public and helping the community produce food. Their main outreach is done through workshops that range from training beginning farmers with no agricultural background, to constructing high tunnel growing beds, to supplementing NRCS land access programs, to adapting agriculture to a mountain environment, and to teaching students how to grow their own food. This variety partially results from traditional agricultural families parceling off land into smaller parcels for Building Farmers Class, January 2016diversified agriculture. “These established ranchers really embrace and work with those who want to start farming,” Pieper said. “Agriculture takes shape in many forms and faces, so when they feed off each other’s support it really enables everyone to be successful.” 2016 is the first year for Extension to offer courses for beginning farmers. Four to five people signed up for the Building Farmers class, which Pieper described as having a “fantastic” outcome. Eagle County Extension has additionally supported the start of a local Colorado Young Farmers Education Association and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union chapters. Jeff Pieper serves as the Horticulture and Small Acreage Extension Agent for Eagle County. He credits his interest in food systems to growing up on his grandparents’ farm in Idaho, his relationship with former Colorado State University professor Frank Stonaker, and participating in CSU’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program. Pieper has also worked on small farms around the country and obtained his Master’s Degree from the University of Rhode Island. Eagle County may be known as a resort area, but the community’s cooperative spirit still encourages agriculture to flourish. For more information, please visit