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Apr 26, 2013 11:43 PM by Tony Spehar -

Venetucci Farm temporarily saved from lack of water

Venetucci Farm has been saved from a serious lack of water after a local ranch donated enough water for the Colorado Springs historic farm to make it through 2013.

In March the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, which runs the farm, was informed that they would not be receiving any augmentation water in 2013. Venetucci Farm relies on ground water to irrigate their crops, but Colorado law requires farms to purchase or be allocated augmentation water to replace what they pump out. This year the farm had no augmentation water and faced a serious crisis that threatened their decades long tradition of being the top spot for thousands of school children to pick out pumpkins and learn about agriculture.

"That was shocking, it just sent us into a real interesting crisis," described Michael Hannigan, CEO of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation. "No food for people, no pumpkins for kids."

For weeks Hannigan and others feverishly searched for a solution until Sheila Venezia, owner of JV Ranches, offered to transfer some of the augmentation water from her ranch to Venetucci Farm. Two other groups have also agreed to lease some of their water to the farm.

"Communities that take care of their history and take care of their priceless assets like a working farm, that is a community farm, those communities are proud of themselves," Hannigan explained.

The farm will now be able to operate normally in 2013. However, Hannigan said that the crisis that the farm faced is one that thousands of farmers across Colorado are facing and they don't have such simple solutions.

"This crisis hit us very hard," he said. "There are lots of other small farmers and ranchers around Colorado who are really, really struggling and may have to either shut-down for a year or may go out of business because they can't get any water."

Though Venetucci Farm is safe this year, a long-term solution to the water problem needs to be found. Officials with the Pikes Peak Community Foundation say they are exploring several alternatives.


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