Colorado Land Link is a cornerstone program of Guidestone Colorado, a non-profit organization based in Chaffee County, dedicated to growing a vibrant agricultural future through education, community building, and partnerships. Land Link engages farmers, ranchers, and community members to keep producers and agricultural lands viable now and for future generations.
Prior to becoming a nonprofit in Chaffee County in 2007, Guidestone was a diversified education farm operating on the Front Range. After 30 years of farming on leased agricultural land, Guidestone Farm lost their lease and had to close their operation. This experience served as the catalyst to establish Guidestone as a nonprofit working to build the capacity of agricultural education, address issues around land access, and support the next generation of farmers and ranchers in Colorado.
In 2009, Guidestone developed the Central Colorado Land Link Initiative in response to increasing need to support landowners and retiring farmers and ranchers with viable options to preserve their agricultural resources and support succession of active agriculture operations to next generation farmers and ranchers.
In 2010, Guidestone facilitated the first two land link matches in Chaffee County. These initial matches provided insight into the further development of program operations, stronger assessment and tracking of success factors in competency of new farmers, and components of an equitable lease arrangement that protect and preserve land and agricultural integrity and support landowner goals and core values.
In 2011, with support and partnership from the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, and the hiring of Guidestone’s first paid Executive Director, Guidestone began building capacity for the Land Link effort. This process resulted in the development of strategic partnerships, a regional committee structure, an online database that could track new farmer applicants and land opportunities, operational and fund development strategies, and a feasibility study for statewide expansion.
The database was launched in 2012, and Guidestone hosted the first annual Land Link Forum in 2013. Now in its ninth year as a statewide program, Colorado Land Link works to create innovative solutions to the challenges of agricultural land access and land succession while providing professional educational and resource support to ranchers, farmers, landowners & land seekers in order to secure agriculture’s future on the land. Programs include a Lunch & Learn Series, a Land Access Series, ongoing workshops addressing producer needs, and a land listing database matching land seekers and landowners.
Since 2020, Chaffee Common Ground has awarded mini-grants to Guidestone’s Land Link program to support this program’s investment in the future of ranches and farms by making connections between landowners and land seekers.
In 2022, Guidestone will be initiating a Colorado version of American Farmland Trust’s Land Access Training curriculum. This curriculum focuses on helping individual farmers and ranchers assess and develop their financial, land, lease, and succession planning knowledge. The goal is to create well-prepared and informed farmers and ranchers to provide a solid foundation for growing their ag business ventures. These trainings will be offered in partnership with organizations across the state.
Read more Stories of Impact from Chaffee Common Ground.