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photo of Ben Tonnessen.

Brad TonnessenResearch Scientist

Brad Tonnessen grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, received his B.S. in Biology at the University of New Mexico, and earned a Ph.D. at Colorado State University in genetics and plant pathology. He spent time as an organic farmer and teacher at a non-profit in Sacramento, California. As the program manager for Vegetable Extension at New Mexico State University, Brad pursued projects in chile pepper breeding and research on mixed vegetable production, giving demonstrations and talks on seed-saving, sustainable agriculture, and genetics. As the research scientist for OARS-RM, Brad is working to sustain and build the community presence of this research station and produce ground-breaking research to benefit farmers. Research areas include organic treatments of Cytospora canker disease in peach, strategies to increase soil health, apple pest management, cold hardiness in perennial crops, vegetable variety trials, and local seed saving.

photo of Bryan Braddy.

Bryan Braddy – Research Associate I

Bryan is a lifelong resident of Western Colorado. He graduated from Fort Lewis College with degrees in Environmental Biology and Agricultural Science and his studies focused on Range Management and Wildlife Ecology. Bryan previously worked for Colorado Parks and Wildlife and two other CSU research stations before joining WCRC in 1997. His work now is centered around all aspects of orchard and vineyard management. Bryan also teaches pruning techniques to Master Gardeners and backyard growers across Colorado.

photo of Keegan Athey.

Keegan AtheyResearch Associate Horticulturist

Keegan is a long time farmer, river guide, and desert rat. With more than ten years of experience in organic agriculture, she has pulled calves, carrots, muscles, and weeds on farms and ranches throughout the Intermountain West. After years of running produce farms in Idaho, Keegan shifted out of production agriculture and into a research associate position at OARS-RM. At the research station, she strives to develop efficient systems and conduct practical research in the realms of organic seed production, small and mid-scale vegetable farming, cover cropping, and table grape viticulture. Keegan lives in Hotchkiss, Colorado where she spends her free time running rivers and trails, baking and eating cake, and taking stuff apart with her partner, Andy.

Max Kirks

Max Kirks
Research  Associate

Max’s interest in farming began while earning his BA in Environmental Studies from Fort Lewis College. After graduating in 2014, he interned at Indian Ridge Farm in Norwood, Colorado and fell in love with working sunup to sundown with mountain vistas looming in the background. He started Outlier Farm as an Incubator Farmer at the Old Fort Incubator Program in Hesperus in 2016. In 2019, he moved operations to a 90-acre ranch in Mancos with his partner Megan and began managing the 7+ acres of apple orchards along with a 2-acre veggie operation. After passing along Outlier in 2022, he is excited to be managing the vegetable operations at WCRC-Roger Mesa where he hopes that his love of good food and passion for sustainable farming practices can continue to flourish. When not at the farm, you can find Max playing in the mountains and desert of Western Colorado with Megan and their two heeler pups.

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