Meet Our New Farm Manager Jesse Smith

If you’re working your dream job and living in a corner of the country that enables you to hike, bike, and backpack to your heart’s content, life’s got to be pretty good, right?

And so it is for the new farm manager at Twin Buttes of Durango, Jesse Smith. Jesse is transitioning into the position, taking over from Jack Leggett. Jack will be helping Jesse get the new growing season underway as he bows out of his former role to spend more time with his family.

A Background in Organic Farming

Jesse is well prepared to step in and lead the “agrihood” in Twin Buttes by managing the  farm and Farm Stand. He studied agricultural engineering at the University of Wisconsin, then moved into small scale organic farming. He interned at farms in Madison, Wisconsin, and managed a small farm there for four years, raising vegetables for high end restaurants in Chicago.

Jesse also spent time in Petaluma, California, an area with very different growing conditions than the Midwest. During his early years in farming, he visited La Plata County several times for outdoor adventures, including hiking the Colorado Trail.  Explaining that “I had always wanted to get out here full time,” Jesse jumped at the chance to apply for the Twin Buttes farm manager job.

Farming in Colorado

A standout feature of farming in Colorado, according to Jesse, is the lack of moisture.  “When I came for the tour in the fall,” he recalls, “I saw there were drip lines on everything, even the perennials.”  Jesse views one of his biggest challenges as keeping irrigation systems going all the time.

Fortunately, Jesse is familiar with measures to extend the growing season from his experience in Wisconsin. He shares that he has already started seeding in one of the hoop houses at Twin Buttes. Another priority on the near horizon is to get some things growing out by the trails that pass close to the farm and Farm Stand. “People like to walk by and check out what’s happening,” Jesse says.  Kids love to see the chickens, and residents are excited to discover spring unfolding in their neighborhood.

Continuing What Works

For the most part, Jesse’s goal is to build on the practices that worked well last year, continuing to develop the farm as a model of sustainable agriculture. Assisted by Jack, he’ll focus on planting diverse, nutrient-dense foods using regenerative, biodynamic farming methods that don’t use any toxic chemicals.  Jesse believes it’s vital to fulfill the needs of the expanding Twin Buttes community first, wholesaling only what’s extra and what can be raised quickly. Crops for sale to just a couple of businesses in Durango will be limited to produce like lettuce, mixed greens, cilantro, and a few bulk veggies.

As for the Farm Stand itself, Jesse recognizes it as a key focal point for the community.  The heart of the agrihood at Twin Buttes, it’s a place where:

  • Residents have the opportunity to meet up with their neighbors.
  • People choose veggies, eggs and other foods they can trust.
  • Extras are available from time to time, like flowers and honey.
  • Kids can learn and appreciate where their food comes from.

Jesse plans to be open as soon as possible and as often as possible. “We’re still deciding what the right schedule should be,” he says. With warmer weather on the way, he invites Twin Buttes residents to stop by the farm for a chat.

Join all of us in welcoming Jesse to Twin Buttes and thanking Jack for his work!

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