Award Winners Mike Mitchell Farms and Patrick O'Neill

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Mike Mitchell Farms was selected as Conservationist of the Year by the Rio Grande Watershed Association of Conservation Districts which includes Rio Grande, Center, Conejos County, Costilla and Mosca-Hooper Conservation Districts. 


Mike Mitchell Farms covers 2300 acres and produces potatoes, quinoa and barley.  The family farm started in 1938 and is run today by Mike, and sons Tyler and Clay who utilize a variety of soil health initiatives including soil moisture sensors, crop consultants and water use forecasts to manage irrigation schedules, cover cropping and vertical tillage.  The farm is also participating in Mosca-Hooper Conservation District’s static pile pilot compost project using fungal rich compost to boost plant productivity and retain carbon and water. 


Patrick O’Neill has been selected by the Colorado Association of Conservation District’s to receive the Supervisor of the Year Award.  Patrick O’Neill, owner, Soil Health Services, PBC is a soil scientist working as a crop and soil adviser in the San Luis Valley.  Utilizing a holistic approach, O’Neill produces specialty cover crops for seed, focusing on cultivars of crops adapted to the cropping and livestock systems in which he works. 


O’Neill was elected in 2014 as a Supervisor with the Mosca-Hooper Conservation District and served as President from 2016-2018.  O’Neill has been instrumental in securing over $160,000 in combined funding from local farmers and private and public partners to support District projects including the multi-year, multi-faceted Aquifer Recovery and the Future of Agriculture in the San Luis Valley Project which addresses targeted aquifer recharge, soil health, data collection, analysis and interpretation.  O’Neill’s mantra is “Good for the soil, good for the soul.”


Mosca-Hooper Conservation District is a special district within the State of Colorado responsible for facilitating natural resource conservation opportunities for landowners within Alamosa County. The District’s efforts at incentivizing soil and water conservation and soil health building practices are long-standing.  The District also works alongside farmers and ranchers in the region to implement voluntary conservation efforts and regenerative farming practices. Mosca-Hooper Conservation District is a member of the Rio Grande Watershed Association of Conservation Districts, and financially supports the educational work of the Rio Grande Watershed Conservation and Education Initiative (RGWCEI), and the advocacy and education work of the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts (CACD) and the National Association of Conservation Districts (NACD) around soil health and watershed stewardship.


Each of the above organizations assists the District to inform a broader audience of landowners, policy makers, and members of the general public about our soil health and watershed stewardship efforts.