Mackenzie Dotson, Yampa Valley Sustainability Council (YVSC) Green Business Intern
Elkstone Farm has recently joined the growing community of the Colorado Green Business Network of the Yampa Valley (CGBN-YV)! Earlier this month, YVSC’s Green Business Team completed their on-site assessment with owner Terry Huffington and farm managers Marco Chung-shu Lam and Jamie Furstoss who also make up the farm’s Green Team.
Thanks to their philosophy, ethics, and embodiment of permaculture principles, Elkstone has a head start on many initiatives that are valued and incentivized by the Colorado Green Business Network program. For example, Elkstone has great systems for waste reduction such as composting, recycling, the creation of biochar, and other permaculture practices that create value from waste or prevent waste altogether. Solar panels power their greenhouses and provide power for radiant floor heating. The farm also hosts workshops, trainings, and even a permaculture club so that community members can learn and utilize these skills on their own land.
For a business like Elkstone, the next step would be to conduct a waste audit so they can further identify if there’s anything to be diverted into these already established systems. Similarly, YVSC’s assessment recommends a commercial Energy Smart audit to determine if the farm can save, retain, or generate even more energy than they already do with their solar panels, energy efficient equipment, and energy monitoring. From a transportation perspective, Elkstone Farm is considering the purchase of an electric farm truck and installation of an EV charger.
As the Green Business Intern, I really benefited from the opportunity to see how a business progresses through the Colorado Green Business Network program, particularly from an agricultural perspective. For an enterprise where land and water are more significant considerations, sustainability efforts have different priorities and focus.
I have also learned during the course of my internship that there were only two statewide agriculture businesses in the Colorado Green Business Network. With Elkstone being the third, they are pioneers in what this program can look like for food producers not only in the Yampa Valley, but for others across the state. YVSC’s position as the bridge between the farm and the network at large better prepares our organization to support future ag businesses who are interested in resource reduction through the Colorado Green Business Network.
More personally, I am working to learn more about permaculture, so not only was it really valuable to see those design principles in action, but also learn about how they can fit into larger scale initiatives such as CGBN. It was my first visit to Elkstone, and I am already eager to spend more time there and continue learning from Terry, Marco, and Jamie!