Greeley’s modern history starts with agriculture.
The original Union Colonists knew in 1870 that Greeley was an ideal location for farming. The fertile lands between the Cache la Poudre and South Platte boomed as farmers began experimenting with crops like potatoes and beets and ranchers introduced cattle and sheep.
Today, Greeley is at the epicenter of Weld County’s world-class agribusiness and food manufacturing hub — an empire encompassing extensive irrigation systems and 2.5 million acres of the richest land in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains.
The secret to the city’s agricultural success? It all starts with water.
What started with two irrigation ditches in the 1870s resulted in an innovative and forward-thinking water management system that continues to support the growth of Greeley and Weld County agriculture.
The city has a long history of renting water to agricultural users. Due in large part to the efforts of Greeley citizens, this began in earnest with the partnership that led to the development of the Colorado Big Thompson Project, completed after nearly 20 years in 1957.
Greeley Water Rental Program
Every year, the City of Greeley opens its water rental program for agricultural use. Operated on a “first-come, first-served ” basis, interested parties can fill out the online form on the City of Greeley’s Water and Sewer webpage for access to available excess water.
Greeley’s strategic planning for its water future continues today, operating six high mountain reservoirs and acting as a shareholder in many others.
Water is just one piece of the city’s booming infrastructure that points to a strong and viable community for future generations.
With 55 square miles of incorporated land, Greeley works hard to support the region’s food producers. From early sugar beet farmers to today’s booming cattle industry, there are numerous products and consumables that rely upon Greeley for processing, packaging, and exporting. City policymakers and planners understand the balance of the regional food system with smart water management.
As Greeley forecasts a population growth from 115,000 to a quarter million people over the next 30 years, it prepares for an influx in both workforce and industry.
City leaders are preparing for this rapid growth with several focused efforts, including economic development incentive opportunities and the business retention and expansion (BRE) program.
In Greeley, innovation is already embedded in the culture, as we have local access to some of the brightest ag minds in the country. The city also houses the Colorado FABtech coalition comprised of private enterprises, government, universities, and nonprofits working together to accelerate next-generation sustainable food, AgTech, and biomaterials.
Tourism is another sector of Greeley’s industry that pulls in revenue, with the City of Greeley Museum sites presenting visitors with the fascinating history of Greeley’s journey from a high plains desert to a western agricultural hub.
Carpenter House at Centennial Village Museum is the former home of Delphis Carpenter, author of the Colorado River Compact. You can also find artifacts from 19th-century irrigation efforts at Centennial Village, including the Ditch #3 gate, a water clock, and a float gauge.
Browse the Greeley History Museum and you will discover historical documentation from individuals such as George Meredith Houston and his work on the North Poudre Irrigation Company. Even more intriguing, historical maps and aerial photos of Greeley and Weld County demonstrate the tremendous growth this once barren landscape experienced over time.
In Greeley, you’ll find a community passionate about caring for and preserving its resources; creating opportunities for the next generation; and preserving the stories of those who came before us.
What make’s Greeley fascinating is its transition to an urban environment that supports both its rural history and current farming community. However, Greeley’s ag community continues to stand out with Weld County arguably one of the best places in the country to grow a farm.
Take it from multigenerational operations like the Tigges, Hoshiko, and Hoffman Farms, continuing a lasting legacy of agricultural excellence in Greeley – another reason Greeley is a story best lived in.