As a trailblazer in adapting regenerative, low-input farming practices for the San Luis Valley, Rockey Farms continues to tweak production methods and experiment with new approaches while producing some of the region’s tastiest potatoes.
In mid-July, brothers Brendon and Sheldon Rockey hosted a field day for around 100 visitors from across the state and beyond, offering them a chance to observe practices on the 600-acre irrigated farm northwest of Center.
The Rockeys grow 26 varieties of potatoes, mostly for seed but, also, for the fresh market. Brendon oversees production, while Sheldon is in charge of marketing and seed certification.
Over the last decade, Brendon’s goal of moving away from high-water-consuming barley while still rotating crops and maintaining diversity pushed him to become a world-recognized leader in the adoption of cover cropping.
The farm’s chief cash crop — potatoes — is now rotated with dense, multi-species plantings of annual covers that include peas, vetch, millet, fava beans, buckwheat, sunflowers and even okra. In the last couple of years, Brendon added quinoa to the rotation.