Conservation Generation

Conservation Generation

Film Session(s)

10 minutes, USA, 2016



The western United States is in the midst of a growing water crisis. Extended drought and climate change are colliding with a booming population and a rising demand for food and fresh water. As more entities vie for this increasingly tenuous resource, water continues to be removed from farmland at rapid rates to feed growing urban centers. This threatens the viability of agricultural soils, farm businesses, and rural communities.

But we are all connected by water. Fifteen percent of all U.S. crops are grown with irrigation water that originates in the Colorado River Basin, the hydrological region in which the farmers in the film grow. Yet, despite the importance of western agriculture, farmers and ranchers are in increasingly short supply. The average age of the American farmer is 58, and farmers over 65 outnumber farmers under 35 by a ratio of six-to-one.

According to NYFC, in a report also titled Conservation Generation, lack of access to affordable land and water are two of the biggest issues preventing more young people from succeeding in agriculture. In this same report, 97% of young farmers surveyed considered water conservation important and 94% reported using some form of conservation on their farms. These stats and stories hold hope for a future of good stewardship of our land, water, and communities. But it is rare that these stories enter the limelight.

NYFC believes it is critical that young farmers and ranchers share their stories in their own voice, and that all of us understand the importance of supporting the next generation of sustainable producers. In 2016, NYFC produced the short film Conservation Generation to do just that. Conservation Generation offers a look into the lives of four young farmers and ranchers in Colorado and New Mexico who are following their passion for agriculture amidst historic drought, climate change, development, and heightened competition for water.

This short film speaks to the importance of getting young, sustainably-minded farmers and ranchers on the land to grow good food and steward natural resources. As these stories intertwine, they start to form a pathway toward resilience and hope in a time of great change.

Each of the farmers has also been blogging about the joys and challenges of farming in the arid West. You can view the film and read their stories at


Director(s): Spencer MacDonald

Producer(s): Kate Greenberg, Chelsey Simpson, Eva Verbeeck