What an amazing time of year we are in. Regardless of your faith background, upbringing, nationality or even whether you live in the Yampa Valley, this is a time for reflection. And with reflection comes gratitude. This year, when you take time to reflect on everything you are grateful for, remember agriculture.
What does agriculture have to do with gratitude and the holiday season?
Do you eat? Of course you do. You eat during your holiday celebration as well as every other day of the year. You are blessed to have access to the safest food source in the world. Regardless of your eating habits, your food is provided by farmers, ranchers and other agricultural producers. Vegetables, meat, nuts, fruits, some fish — you name it and it was bred, raised, grazed or otherwise produced by agricultural producers.
Do you wear clothes? Another thing to be grateful for this holiday season is that the fiber and leather found in most of our clothing is a result of agriculture. Whether a byproduct or a primary product, you can be grateful that every day of the year, holiday or not, a farmer or rancher is rising before the sun to care for their animals and plants. These animals and plants produce the raw materials to make the clothing we all enjoy every day of the year.
Are you grateful for this place? The Yampa Valley is someplace where we still can look out and see open landscapes covered with cattle, sheep and hay bales. We still see farm equipment working the land. We still have neighbors who care more about us than the car they drive.
Agriculture is a way of life. It is a lifelong philosophy of taking care of the land, water, animals and people. Agriculture is what makes this place special. There are ski areas all over the United States, but Steamboat Springs has one thing none of them have. We have a sense of place, of importance of the land and people ahead of the commercialism.
We all know these things. They are why we choose to live here, raise our families here, vacation here. We are special. Productive agriculture is behind this special place. Please don’t ever take this for granted. Do not assume that agriculture always will be here. It is a grueling way of life. It is long hours, blood, sweat and tears and lots of regulations and issues that make it a constant challenge to survive. Farmers and ranchers do what they do because they love it.
During this time of reflection and gratitude, we all should be mindful of how grateful we are for the farmers and ranchers of our valley who protect everything we love. Please remember these families during this special time of year, and let them know what they mean to all of us.
Medora Fralick is a member of Routt County’s Community Agriculture Alliance. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.