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Eagle Valley Land Trust is growing the Wildflower Farm into a new conservation center

The Eagle Valley Land Trust hopes to turn the Wildflower Farm site in Edwards into a conservation center.
Chris Dillmann/Vail Daily

[By Scott Miller, From the Vail Daily] The Eagle Valley Land Trust focuses its efforts on preserving the valley’s outdoor spaces. But an indoor space is also on the group’s to-do list.

The nonprofit in 2022 bought Wildflower Farm in Edwards and plans to turn the facility into its first conservation center. After hearing from the public, Land Trust Executive Director Jessica Foulis said the group in 2020 completed a long-range plan that included such a center.

The center will include information about the group and its efforts, but will also serve as an educational center highlighting the importance of conservation in the valley.

Group members looked at “seven or eight” potential properties, Foulis said. The roughly 1-acre Wildflower Farm site ranked the highest of those potential parcels, in large part due to its proximity to the Eagle River Preserve, as well as the Eagle River Village mobile home park and the Lake Creek Village apartments.

Those two properties are home to a significant portion of the valley’s Spanish-speaking community. Because of that proximity, the Wildflower Farm site will also host a gear library for the Eagle Valley Outdoor Movement, a nonprofit that introduces hiking, snowshoeing, camping and other activities to Spanish speakers.

Renovation and planning

Land Trust board member Scot Hunn is also a local land planner. He’s led the design work on the conservation plan and is working to shepherd the plan through Eagle County’s approval process.

“This is what I call my feelgood project,” Hunn said, adding that it’s “an honor” to serve the Eagle Valley Land Trust and its mission with the project.

“We’re creating a forever home for a respected nonprofit,” Hunn said, as well as preserving a popular structure.

While the Wildflower Farm building looks like it was built by early homesteaders, the structure is only about 20 years old. The original builders used reclaimed timber from a barn in another state.

Hunn said the building has some deferred maintenance items, but it’s new enough that it doesn’t have the plumbing, electrical and structural complications that often come with genuinely antique structures.

Hunn said he’s been working on the Wildflower Farm project for more than a year and has brought friends in architecture and building into the project. The team at Zehren Architects has taken the Land Trust’s ideas “and brought them to life,” he said.

Big changes include adding solar panels and electric vehicle chargers, as well as improving the site’s stormwater management.

Foulis said reusing the building “fits our mission really well. … We’re going to take that acre and improve it for community use.”

Hunn said he expects the Eagle County Planning Commission to get its first look at the Wildflower Farm project in the next month or two. He expects a relatively smooth trip through the county’s approval process, he added.

In addition to the planning and construction work, the Land Trust is also raising money for the project.

“We’re in the midst of a quiet phase of fundraising” at the moment, Foulis said. A full-blown campaign will follow when the quiet fundraising has brought in roughly 80% of the project’s estimated $7.5 million cost. The Land Trust has already raised $2.2 million for the project and has a goal of bringing in another $2 million by April.

“We have had some really generous folks,” Foulis said, adding that the fundraising appeal will be “exciting” for the community.

“To me it checks a lot of boxes,” Foulis said. “It meets a lot of express community needs.”

To learn more about the Eagle Valley Land Trust, go to evlt.org

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