Catherine Long Gates

Catherine Long Gates

Secretary/Treasurer, Back-up ditch rider, SilverLake Ditch

Catherine Gates grew up hearing about water and enjoying ditches on a 25 acre farm at Long's Gardens, in Boulder. Long's Gardens is supplied by 2 ditches; Silver Lake and Farmers. Catherine has served on the ditch board for 12 years, and has filled in for her father and others when they were ditch-riders. Her father Ev Long was always interested and involved with water. "I've sort of inherited my involvement with water from Dad, whether I wanted it or not," says Catherine. According to family lore, her parents spent their honeymoon hiking around the mountains searching for a dam site. They found Upper Woodland Lake; Ev filed on it and built Skyscraper Reservoir, first using horses, later an Army Weasel and finally the true workhorse, a 1947 Dodge Power Wagon.

Catherine values the way that ditches connect people and bring neighbors together. "Installing a liner on a ditch is like a barn-raising," says Catherine. "You get to know people you would otherwise never meet. Ditches force people to get along because we are all working for a common goal. We all need water."

Catherine feels lucky to have farmed her entire 57 years. She uses ditch water for her main crop, irises, and to water her vegetable garden and trees, as well as land which Growing Gardens leases. She believes that people who grow plants get in tune with the weather and with how precious water is during our scorching dry summers. "I love bringing the water down the ditch for the first time in the spring," says Catherine. "Everything comes to life as the water gets there. The birds start chirping and the dogs come out to watch. The dry cracked ground soaks up the water, and you can feel its life-giving force. It always delights me."

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