Community Agriculture Alliance: A new year for Community Ag Alliance

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— Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's are over. For most of us, food played an important role during the holidays. Whether you enjoyed a banquet with family, attended a party with friends or were part of our community dinners, I hope you took a moment to reflect on where the meal started.

Community Agriculture Alliance

This weekly column about agriculture issues is written by area farmers, ranchers and policymakers. It publishes on Fridays in the Steamboat Today. Read more columns here.

The American rancher and farmer are here for you every day. Regardless of the weather, the economy or Congress, our family producers continue to grow commodities that keep our bellies full and our bodies warm.

Community Agriculture Alliance has made a commitment to recognize the value of agriculture. Since 1999, this organization has worked hard to preserve the agricultural heritage of the Yampa Valley by initiating, supporting and encouraging actions, programs and policies that mutually benefit and connect agricultural, business and resort interests. We strive to enhance and promote local agriculture: food, fiber, products and services. We provide education about the critical importance of agriculture. We serve as an ag-resource connector between the community and other agriculture organizations.

But who are we? Who plans and implements? Who evaluates?

Meet our 2014 board of directors: Carol Atha, Greg Brown, Barry Castagnasso, Medora Fralick, Kelly Heaney, Diane Holly, Ren Martyn, Brett Mason, Erika Murphy, Wayne Shoemaker, Brian Smith and Rich Tremaine. This year’s board of advisers includes Adonna Allen, Bill Badaracca, Dan Bell, Carl Herold, Steve Ivancie, Jenna Keller, Karen Massey, Kyle Monger and Chayla Rowley. Brown and Murphy will serve as our co-chairs, Holly as secretary and Fralick as treasurer.

These 21 people come from different vocations and interests, but they share one common passion: agriculture. All of them understand the importance of production agriculture and consumer relationships. They treasure the heritage of Routt County but understand that to succeed, we must adapt for the future. They provide planning and implementation for the variety of programs hosted by Community Agriculture Alliance, and true to the agriculture work ethic, you also find them carrying supplies, setting up chairs and taking registrations at all of our events.

As 2013 ended, we sadly said "goodbye" to Chris Bradley, Chad Bedell, Katie Brown, Tammie Delaney, Vonnie Frentress, Rod Hanna, Peter Kurtz, Nancy Merrill, Andy Schaffner, Nancy Stahoviak, Kathy Smith, Deb Werner and Regina Wendler. When they left their positions on either the board of directors or board of advisers, they took more than 110 combined years of volunteering with Community Agriculture Alliance. We miss their wisdom and can-do attitudes.

Now, we look forward to a new year. In partnership with many organizations and businesses, we will be moving the needle on local food issues, doing our best to connect local producers with local markets.

Education about water issues is a priority for us. During March, during National Agriculture Week, we will be reminding everyone that we all would be naked and hungry without agriculture.

The 12th annual North Western Colorado Bull Sale is April 12. There will be ranch tours and ag-based events.

The future for Community Agriculture Alliance is bright. Feel free to stop by our office at 141 Ninth St. or call 970-879-4370 — we look forward to visiting with you.

Marsha Daughenbaugh is executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance.

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