Off-Farm Income

Whenever I am just about to begin an interview I ask the guest if they have any questions about what we are doing or how I do it.  Normally there aren't too many questions, but people frequently want to know what questions I am going to ask them.  I provide folks with a template, but I always tell them that I want the conversation to go in a natural direction, so I may stray from that template.  Well, in today's interview I definitely strayed!

Sharon Kauffman and her husband, Dan, have been farming in Morgan County, Colorado since the late 1970's.  They both grew up there, and Dan is a 3rd generation farmer on their land.  About ten years ago Dan got the idea to try making his own wine, and he sequestered a bathroom in the house to do so.  One thing led to another, and he and Sharon ended up planing vines in an unirrigated corner of one of their pivot fields in 2018.  In 2019 they got licensed to sell wine, and just one week prior to recording this interview they had their grand opening on their winery and tasting facility called Country Road Wines.

Sharon stated that this is a hobby, but is also a form of diversification to protect their farm and family tradition from the ups and downs of farming.  She and Dan were just getting their start in farming during the 1980's and managed to survive it, and that lesson has stayed in the forefront of their minds.  However, Sharon stated that their biggest motivation to put in the winery and create a tasting room was to provide people in their community a place to go and something to do.  They've lived there all their lives, and they are invested in the success of their community.  This was a way to keep it vibrant and attractive for 30 and 40 year olds that had previously left but who might consider moving back as they start families.  Sharon says that is happening.

As Sharon and I continued speaking our conversation really turned towards the issue of rural communities and how you attract people to live there without ruining what the community is all about in the first place.  Fort Morgan appears to have different dynamics than my community of Kuna, Idaho.  In Kuna we are seeing massive price increases on farm ground and farmers selling out to developers who are putting subdivisions on top of that ground.  There is housing pressure in Fort Morgan as well, but farmers are resisting development, causing companies like Cargill to bus in employees.

If you have an interest in seeing rural communities thrive while not losing their identities, this interview is for you

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1149_Sharon_Kauffman-071421.mp3
Category:farming -- posted at: 12:30am MST