Photo by William A. Cotton / Colorado State University

Colorado beef and wine, Pueblo chile peppers, Rocky Ford cantaloupe, and Palisade peaches.

It sounds like a perfect dinner menu.

And that’s a key outcome driving two Colorado State University campuses opening this summer to provide education, research, veterinary diagnostics, and community engagement that support vital agricultural regions in the western and southeastern parts of the state.

The CSU Western Colorado Campus in Orchard Mesa and the CSU Arkansas Valley Campus in Rocky Ford are built on existing university sites. Yet both feature newly constructed facilities and, for the first time, bring together several units supporting rural Colorado residents, communities, and farms and ranches that grow some of the state’s best-known food products.

The campuses and their co-located programs will improve university services and ease of access for area residents. “These campuses provide integrated services so community residents truly have Colorado State University at their doorsteps,” said Troy Bauder, a project leader with CSU’s Agricultural Experiment Station.

Support from local policymakers and the Colorado General Assembly was critical for planning and financing the two redeveloped campuses, CSU officials noted.

The Western Colorado Campus, near Grand Junction, features two new facilities, with construction costs totaling $11 million: a state-of-the-art branch of CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, which provides testing and expertise needed to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease in livestock and companion animals; and a second building with offices, a large community classroom, and multiple public meeting areas.

Along with veterinary diagnosticians, regional CSU Office of Engagement, CSU Extension, and Colorado State Forest Service staff will move to the Western Colorado Campus, joining Agricultural Experiment Station staff already working there.

The campus serves as headquarters for three Western Slope branches of the Agricultural Experiment Station, which investigates soil and crop issues and provides growers with knowledge about successful varieties and best practices in soil and water conservation, among other production concerns. On the Western Slope, much of this research relates to tree fruit – yes, the region’s famous peaches – and to an expanding interest in production of wine grapes.

The Arkansas Valley Campus in Rocky Ford is about 50 miles east of Pueblo on the Arkansas River, a region on the state’s Eastern Plains well-known for vegetable and melon farming.

The site is already home to the oldest branch of CSU’s Agricultural Experiment Station off the main campus; established in 1888, it supports research into irrigated crop production, water quality and conservation, and development of unique and regionally adapted crop varieties, including chile peppers.

The Arkansas Valley Campus also is home to the southeastern Colorado branch of CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories. With a new $2 million multipurpose building, the campus additionally co-locates CSU Extension offices for both Otero County and the southeastern Colorado region.

CSU Office of Engagement programs, now featured at both campus locations, provide scientific knowledge to support community, workforce, and economic development; the office includes the Colorado Water Center, among other units. CSU Extension programs, including 4-H youth development, help individuals apply university research to improve their work and personal lives.