Colorado agriculture would have taken longer to establish if not for the Homestead Act of 1862. Any American could claim 160 acres of land to farm or homestead.
After living on the land and improving it for five years, the homesteader was given the property.
Homesteaders, like the cattlemen, had to wait until the Indians were removed and the railroad arrived before they could settle on the eastern plains of Colorado.
Farming actually came along in the 1850's. The cattlemen were already there selling their beef to miners, and some miners decided that by growing crops and selling them to other miners would make them more money than looking for gold.
These farmers planted their crops along rivers and streams for natural irrigation.
Many of these new homesteaders already knew about farming, coming from the Midwest of America were farming was the rule of thumb.
A farming visionary, William Byers, realized that agriculture was a very lucrative business.
And a man named David Wall took his advice. Wall settled in Golden, Colorado and set up his farm.
He was in a perfect spot. He could sell his goods to the miners in the mountains and to the residents in Golden and Denver.
Mr. Byers dream of home grown produce was in its infancy in 1859, but many years later Colorado farmers were able to provide all the produce and grain needed.
It took time to figure out the growing season, which crops would grow successfully and how much rain would fall during the season or should irrigation be used.
Equipment had to be brought into Colorado from the Midwest and bees, paramount to pollination, arrived by wagon train in 1862.
However, many new farmers could not afford the expense of equipment and irrigation materials.
So Colony Settlements were formed. It consisted of a group of farmers who joined together to form a town and get the finances, labor and knowledge to start large scale farming.
The most famous of these colonies is the town of Greeley. Named for Horace Greeley who said "Go West Young Man".
The town of Longmont soon followed. However, with the success of these colonies, the eastern plains was still being settled by individual farmers.
Today, we look forward to summer and the great bounty of our farmers on the eastern plains.
Their produce is some of the best I've ever tasted and coming from back east, that's saying a lot. My parents and grandparents were farmers in Maryland, and, yes, I am a transplanted (no pun intended) "sod buster".