Garry and Ming Adams created Canyon of the Ancients Guest Ranch, a luxurious boutique guest ranch, in Cortez. When Garry purchased the land in the beautiful McElmo Canyon in 2006, the three dwellings on the property were uninhabitable. Their goal was to stay true to the land’s western heritage and create a working guest ranch. Guests would stay in comfortable remodeled houses, part take in the raising of livestock, be offered organically raised foods and immerse themselves in the surrounding canyon lands where ancient ruins can be found. Ming stated, “We refer to it as an outdoor museum of culture and history. There is an abundance of Ancestral Puebloan archeological sites for guest to explore and appreciate.” Garry and Ming also wanted to establish sustainable land practices and promote cultural exchanges and experiences. The two designed and constructed the ranch with that in mind. They restored the three historic houses, expanded the infrastructure for two new guest houses and installed old style fences to better manage their livestock.
Cindy Dvergsten is a highly regarded advisor for the Small Business Development Center (SBDC), located in Durango. She is also Garry and Ming’s friend. Cindy has helped many entrepreneurs begin and expand their businesses. She is an expert in agriculture, sustainable practice and bringing products to market. Cindy teaches classes for SBDC too. She told Garry and Ming about classes she would be teaching when the Adams’ were in their first few years of operation. One class focused on establishing a business foundation through a holistic approach. The second class was specific for ranchers and farmers. That content included pasture management, grazing plans, and holistic practices.
The first class was for entrepreneurs to identity what they want in life and what sort of work would make them happy. Specifically, to do something they would enjoy with clarity about the quality of life they would like to have. The class also focused on ranching and agriculture in a sustainable and enterprising way. Ming loved that approach. Identifying what they love and care about will guide them towards making better decisions down the road, both personally and professionally. Ming added, “Cindy taught us how to manage our land and our Navajo Churro sheep (which Cindy introduced to them), cattle and chickens. Our ranch is the only one around to have a Grass Fed certificate from A Greener World and be Animal Welfare approved.”
The Adams’ also took SBDC classes for online marketing and social media. “We work so hard on daily chores. The classes introduced and taught us things in the online world. We can identify what works best for us. I would love to learn more about online marketing through presentations or workshops.”
Ming stays in touch with Cindy often to ask her advice and opinions, particularly about raising the sheep. Ming said, “Cindy is very passionate about what she does and promotes Navajo sheep culture.” Ming concluded that SBDC has a lot to offer. “There are times I don’t know where to get help. Being in their network, SBDC can put me in touch with the right person. This is a learning journey for us. We are not ranchers by trade. Our guests enjoy themselves and have great experiences connecting with the land and animals. We know we are doing the right thing.”