Developing the vision of Montava has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my professional life. Creating a community like this, in a place like Fort Collins, is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. There are many creative aspects of this community including energy and water conservation, new urbanist "walkable" development, integration of natural areas and open lands, integrating a substantial regional park, creating a town center to serve as the community hub, school system integration, large storm water challenges/opportunities, changing how affordable housing is woven into the fabric of community, and much more. However, of all the pieces of DNA that create this community, “agri-urbanism” is one of the most interesting to me.
The people of Fort Collins have spent two decades imagining what should be developed in the Mountain Vista Sub Area. Maintaining the agricultural history of this area is a critical component of the vision they created. This intriguing idea called agri-urbanism may be easy to describe, but it is much more difficult to create. That is our task.
When stepping into unfamiliar territory I always ask “where is this being done well?”. This search took me all over the country from Virginia to Arizona. Along the way I fell in love with this challenging idea, and the roots of a successful plan began to grow.
Successful integration of agriculture and community development require:
A community deeply supportive of this idea (Hello Fort Collins!)
A tremendous operating partner that shares this vision
A quality abundant water supply
Organic farming requires protection from wind and nearby farms over spraying. Substantial wind breaks and tree/bush lined berms are critical .
Finally a sustainable support structure that integrates this concept solidly in the DNA of everyday life in Montava must be established
We are deep into the design of each item listed above. Locating the farm on the best soil, designing a successful water supply and irrigation plan, designing the land plan for the farm, partnering with a world class operating team are all essential to the success of the vision. We are also earnestly working to design the support structure within the community that insures a real and lasting foundation for this critical objective. Agri-urbanism will make Montava a special reflection of the already amazing city in which it is being brought to life.
My wife and I had lunch this week at The Farmhouse at Jessup Farm where we ate food grown by our operating partner, Native Hill Farms. You don’t have to try very hard in Fort Collins before you are eating great food grown locally by your friends and neighbors who labor to bring us all this incredible blessing. Integrating this into the DNA of Montava has become our mission. It is much harder to do than it is to describe, and impossible without an incredible team. It is my honor to be part of such a team working to make this a reality.