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No big till: Paving the way for the future of farming

Chantae Shor, owner of Grassroots Farmers, stands with a friend in a desert field near Fountain, Colorado.
Lindsey Ford
/
Rocky Mountain PBS
Chantae Shor, owner of Grassroots Farmers, stands with a friend surveying a recently donated piece of land near Fountain, Colorado.

Grassroots Farmers lives out their name: they are passionate about healing the land from the ground up. They are a collective of farmers and farm organizations working to restore the soil in the Denver and Boulder areas through no-till, organic and regenerative farming practices.

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One of Grassroots Farmer’s first big projects this year is creating a sustainable, regenerative farm located in Fountain, Colorado. No-till agriculture means there is minimal disturbance to the soil where seeds are planted to decrease the amount of soil erosion. 

“It does take a village to raise a chard, as the farming saying goes,” said Chantae Shor, Owner, and Founder of Grassroots Farmers.

A unique opportunity sprung upon Shor when she attended a Tony Robbins business seminar event. There, she discussed with a guest that she is a regenerative farmer and during the conversation, a local landowner in Fountain overheard Shor talk about her agriculture experience.

This shows a plot of land near Fountain, Colorado where Grassroots Farmers plans to create a no-till farm.
Lindsey Ford
/
Rocky Mountain PBS
A six-acre property near Fountain, Colorado was donated to Grassroots Farmers to become the latest no-till farmed piece of land.

The landowner told Shor that he was at a point in his life where he “wanted to give back to his community” and asked her if she would steward his six-acre property for the greater good.

Shor excitedly told the landowner, “Well, looks like I’m going to be your farmer!” 

The vision for the six-acre property, Shor said, is “to start small,” meaning she and her team of Grassroots Farmers will start with a quarter of an acre first. This quarter acre will provide housing to 4-8 farmers and be a place for learning and education. 

“Grassroots Farmers is all about cultivating the next generation of growers, so we really want to use this site as a proof of concept of what can be done on a small scale,” said Shor.

Shor said Grassroots is raising funds to build yurts for community gatherings, so people can visit on-site and visually see where their food comes from. Shor said she hopes this sparks a change in how people purchase food. 

“Not everyone may have access to six acres, but we do have access to little chunks within the city,” Shor said. “So, like, look at your backyard, look at your porch you can start with something as small as just a few little garden pots on your apartment porch and start developing that relationship with the soil and the tomato plant that you choose to grow.”

The Fountain location will have its compost on-site to help organically grow fruit trees like apple, peach, elderberry, and a variation of cherry trees. Shor also said several “chicken tractors” will be implemented on-site. A chicken tractor is a bottomless chicken coop that can be moved about the soil from one area to another. This allows the chickens to scratch at the earth and eat what is there to create vegetation growth. The farm will follow a hybrid business model, which will include for-profit sales and educational purposes.

This is an up close shot of a cacti on the land that will be Grassroots Farmers.
Lindsey Ford
/
Rocky Mountain PBS
Cacti on the plot of land donated to Grassroots Farmers.

“There’s something magical that happens when we all come together and start putting our hands in the dirt,” Shor said. “We’re not just healing ourselves, we’re not just healing the soil, but we’re healing our relationship with one another and also healing our community.”

The first set of seeds to be placed in the ground will begin this summer. Rocky Mountain PBS hopes to be invited to give further updates on the Fountain farm location then.

Shor is plugged in to a farming network with over 164  farmers in the Denver Metro area. Now, the network is expanding into Southern Colorado as well.Some of the partners and affiliates are: