Organic fruit and wine grape farming on the canyon country of the Colorado Plateau
First of all for those of you who do not know, WWOOF stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms. 150 Acres of land in amazing red rock canyons in the juniper and pinion forest and canyonlands of the high desert on the Colorado Plateau. The year round creek bisects the property with a grove of cottonwoods. Almost 20 Anasazi sites are scattered around the property, with cliff ruins, petroglyphs and pictographs decorating the canyon walls. 21 acres of grape vines, hundreds of fruit and nut trees, and a prolific garden make up the main work to be done on the property. Having such low humidity we don’t have a lot of the major pest problems that lead vineyards to use organic pesticides, making them less sustainable. Instead we can deal with the few problems without resorting to using organic pesticides by using cover crops that promote pest predators, and doing a lot of hand weeding. Stay of length is up to you, ranging from a few weeks, to all summer. Working months are between March and October, the beginning and end of the frost free days. There is a cabin on the property built by the wwoofers using alot of reclaimed construction materials which sleeps 8. We also have two guest bedrooms in the main house, although if you prefer more privacy there is a trailer available on the property with solar panels if you are looking for a bit more solitude. The WWOOF farmers are expected to learn how to prune and take care of grape vines or fruit and nut trees. The plants always appreciate the extra attention.
I am a 27 year old graduate of UC Santa Cruz, who decided to turn our “ranch” into a viable organic farm and vineyard. We are completely on solar power, and we are installing a solar well so that our house water will be off the grid as well. If you are interested in the Anasazi, our canyon is a treasure trove of old ruins and remnants that you can see and discover up close. We would love to have more people come out and experience this amazing farm in this amazing area. After graduating from college I took over farming of the Montezuma Canyon Ranch full time in march of 2009. I decided to move expand the focus of the farm from apples, peaches, pears, and cherries into a wine grape vineyard.We have 21 acres of wine grapes planted (Chenin Blanc, Riesling, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir). We also have 4 acres of mostly mature fruit and nut trees.
For prospective WWOOFers we have satellite internet, satellite tv, and phone service sometimes, but we are completely off the grid. We rely on solar for our power, pump our own water, compost, and haul our own trash/recycling. The project list for next summer includes building 6 more acres of grape trellising, topping and suckering the fruit orchard, building a new larger garden, training grape vines, and planting a new orchard. There should be lots of projects going on at once, so their should be a pretty good variety of jobs to do. There is always plenty of food so Wwoofers can raid the pantry, and there are three great meals a day. I can accommodate special diets. The work requirement is 30 hours a week, and there is a definite feel of accomplishment at the end of the day. We usually do something as a group on the weekends, but sometimes you want to get away and relax on your own. On weekends there is hiking, backpacking, climbing, mountain biking, and rafting (plenty of extra gear and equipment) or lounging around the ranch reading from the thousand book wwoofer library and book exchange. The wwoofers have canned hundreds of quarts of fruits and vegetables to make the harvest last year round. There is lots of time for cooking during the day, like handmade pasta and bread from scratch. As for getting here without a car there is a new cheap shuttle from SLC or Green River to Monticello which runs once a day. You can take the train or greyhound to both SLC or Green River, then catch the shuttle the rest of the way. Rideshare on craigslist.com or ksl.com work if you get lucky. Hope you come out this season.