Holy Terror Farm is a paradise of sorts on the banks of Terror Creek in the Western Colorado Rockies. Bushels of fresh fruits and vegetables of
every sort, species, and color sprout from this soil every season (yes, even winter!). And all the water that irrigates the orchard, garden, and pastures here is siphoned directly from the pristine flows of Terror Creek, a tributary of the Gunnison River.
Since buying the farm in spring 2010, Alison and Jason have doubled the number of trees in the orchard and quadrupled the garden space. They feed the home first, and excess produce is sold online mostly, thru a farmers market called Local Farms First. But the “chemical free” orchards here would no longer be able to make that claim reliably if gas wells were erected on the banks of Terror Creek. Who would want to eat that food anymore?
The farmers in this valley have a great thing going here! And Alison isn’t the only one threatened; the BLM leasing proposal for gas drilling includes parcels that border schools, parks, and orchards all over the valley. It can be taken as a given that these two industries cannot coexist side-by-side. So why is it permissible for one industry to come and kick another out that was here first? That permission is representative of the fact that our federal and state governments, under the direction of industry experts, have put energy production before food production.
There are two main reasons for this jacked up priority order, and the first is pretty simple: we have to move food, among other things, across the nation and overseas to the markets in which they’ll be sold. And movement of goods takes fuel. We’ve got an infrastructure that is far larger than is really sustainable and we don’t want to face that fact. The second reason is more important, and far more discouraging: energy sells for great prices overseas where nations don’t have the technology or reckless abandon necessary to cultivate their own fossil fuels. So how do we address these two issues?
The first thing we can make serious progress on immediately: grow a garden! By eating locally, working locally, and investing in a localized community, this will start to change. The stronger our localities, the less they have to lean on the larger national and international frameworks for their needs. The second issue is tougher to solve, especially in a capitalist society. It’s hard to tell a gas company not to sell its natural gas to Chinese markets for $16 when the unit price domestically is closer to $2.25. There’s not much we can do to make this look like a good business decision. But the lifting of the veil has begun; secrets about the failing financial model of shale gas are starting to be exposed to the public. Industry reserve estimates in the Marcellus and Barnett shale plays, once thought to be huge moneymakers, have been slashed by 80%! As we seek to expose the truth, our foot is in the door.
Education is key here; we need to learn as a public what the problems and conflicts are in this industry so we start making better decisions on a legislative as well as a personal level. One thing I know for sure since starting this project is that the energy industry is a great liar. And since it fills the bank quite well, our political leaders stand idly by or believe the lies themselves. But this film is our little bit of education and we hope stories like it can help raise the knowledge base of the people. We’re learning so much about this conflict as we go along, and we want you to learn with us. Please help us get this film made!
Part of a series of blogs on the conflicts in the North Fork Valley. For