Forest and Agriculture

Historically, agriculture and forests have been in direct competition. The overwhelming majority of deforestation on the planet is due to agriculture. For thousands of years, humans have cleared forests to create open pastures for grazing animals and growing food.

As ACES continues to increase food production at our 113 acre farm, Rock Bottom Ranch (RBR), we’re committed to resisting this trend. At RBR, we are consistently striving to increase the sustainability of our food production. Sustainability includes making food production part of a climate change solution rather than a contributor to the problem.

Global food production systems are responsible for up to one third of global CO2 emissions and agriculture is responsible for 86% of those emissions. At RBR we are committed to more sustainable food production in every way possible. Over the past 17, we’ve reduced our farm emissions though innovative rotational grazing that increases the amount of CO2 soils can absorb. Additionally, we are ensuring the 70 forested acres at RBR remain forested. Between the carbon sequestered by soils and the existing forests, our food production is carbon neutral. Carbon neutral food production is something ACES is very proud of, but we don’t want to stop there.

Over the next several years, we’ll be exploring ways our agricultural practices can sequester even more carbon. One of the most promising opportunities is the marriage of forest and agriculture, or “agroforestry”. Agroforestry is a suite of practices that allows for the production of traditional food crops in a forested environment. Not only does this help food production at RBR sequester more carbon, but it also prepares us for the potential impacts of climate change.

Since 1977, temperatures in Colorado have increased by approximately 2oF, with climate models predicting an additional 2-6oF of warming by 2050. As summers get hotter, it means less available water, more heat stress for animals, and less forage production. Integrating our agriculture practices into a forested environment increases shade for animals, decreases evaporation, increases soil moisture, and increases forage production during hot summer months.