Blake Knoll picked a tough time to start his first year farming. Knoll, who recently retired, is the only employee at Pinyon Crest Farms and had to deal with the drought that has hit southwestern Colorado.
“It’s been a tough year to start with the drought,” he said. “There’s been successes and not-so successes but it’s coming along.”
Knoll had previously worked as a field geophysicist for oil and gas companies. He had always loved gardening, and had thought about picking up farming once he retired.
“I thought I’d try something new,” Knoll said. “It’s something I’ve thought about for a few years and I had water rights and I got the land and I figured why not? My wife’s working, so that helps get a real income coming in. I know I’ve made some mistakes but it’s been a great experience and I’m learning as I go.”
Knoll does all the work himself, though sometimes he has his kids help him out when they’re in the area.
“I’m doing this all on my own.” Knoll said. “It’s a lot of work. I think I bit off a lot. I think I’m going to look for some help this next year.”
Knoll uses raised bed farming infused with organic matter, which helps soil drain more quickly. He also uses drip irrigation and doesn’t use any herbicides or pesticides.
He grows zucchini, squash, swish chard, tomatoes, peppers, melons, winter squash and broccoli, although he keeps the broccoli for himself.
“Right now I’m just doing the basic vegetables,” Knoll said.
The concept of making a living on a small acreage farm is fascinating to Knoll. He also enjoys meeting young farmers enthusiastic about the business.
“That’s what’s so neat about this,” he said. “I met a whole new group of entrepreneurs and young people especially that I wouldn’t meet otherwise. It’s a neat concept.”