Venetucci Farm lays off staff; fate of farm unknown

Local

The fate of Venetucci Farm is in limbo after the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, which runs the farm, laid off its staff this week. 

The farm’s problems started with water contamination from a firefighting foam used at nearby Peterson Air Force Base. Since then, the Security, Widefield and Fountain areas have struggled with having safe water to drink or use. 

The farm leases out wells to water districts in Security, and those districts are not renewing that lease because of the water contamination, leaving funding short. 

The water districts say they won’t renew the lease until the water is safe enough to be used. 

Pikes Peak Community Foundation took over Venetucci Farm in 2006, but now their three-member staff, including one family who has been managing the land for more than 11 years, is being let go. 

Foundation special projects manager Sam Clark said the staff cut is due to lack of funding.

“The staff changes at Venetucci are the result of an agreement that we’ve entered with the Security and Widefield water districts that affects the funding that we use to operate the farm every year,” Clark said.

Clark said they are still committed to the longevity of the farm. 

“Right now we’re solving a bigger problem, which is what’s happened with the water in the whole Widefield aquifer, but we’re taking our steps to make sure that this is a community asset in five years, in 20 years, in 100 years from now,” Clark said. 

Clark said working with the water districts will work best for everyone involved.

“That problem gets solved working together,” he said. “It doesn’t get solved by picking nits and just looking out for singular interests.”

Clark said this is about addressing the bigger issue that’s affecting the whole community.

“These are some of the consequences of a water contamination,” he said.

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