San Juan Ranch, Saguache, CO
San Juan Ranch is a 4,000-acre certified organic ranch in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. It is owned by George Whitten and Julie Sullivan. The ranch also has a B.L.M. lease of 10,000 acres and an arrangement with the Baca National Wildlife Refuge to graze on the 94,000-acre refuge. San Juan Ranch currently has 170 cows as a basic breeding herd. In 2009, it produced 122 cattle for market. It has the capacity to produce 250-300 organic cattle.
George Whitten, one of the principles of San Juan Ranch, has been owner and operator of the ranch since 1973. The Whitten family established a sheep, cattle and farming operation in the San Juan Mountains and the San Luis Valley in 1901. George is the third generation to lead this ranch. He has knowledge in all phases of sheep and cattle production. He specializes in grass finishing and marketing, genetics for grass finishing, organic farming and sustainable ranching. George has been applying Holistic Management principles to his ranch for 24 years.
From 1990 – 1994 George worked with Coleman Natural Beef producing natural and organic beef. He assisted in establishing national organic standards through the Organic Crop Improvement Association. George is a consultant for Holistic Management International assisting others in developing holistic approaches to cattle ranching. In 2006, George and Julie were the Clarence Burch Award recipients from the Quivira Coalition in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 2003, George was selected as the Private Ranch Livestockman of the Year by the Colorado Cattleman’s association.
George is President of the Board of Directors of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District. He is a consultant for Holistic Management International. He is a member of the San Luis Valley Cattlemen’s Association, serving as President in 1988. He is a member of the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, serving as Chairman of the Water Committee from 1996-2000. He was a member of the BLM Advisory Council, Canon City District, serving as Chairman from 1994-1996. George and Julie participate in the Quivira Coalition C.A.R.L.Y. Ranch apprentice program, training future ranchers. They have taught workshops and seminars for the Colorado State University, Colorado College, Adams State College, the San Luis Valley Natural Resources Camp, the Audubon Expedition Institute at Lesley University, and the Sierra Club.