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Community Agricultural Alliance: Appreciate uniqueness of where we live

Community Agriculture Alliance

As I complete my first year at Yampatika and as a resident of the Yampa Valley, I continue to be amazed by the natural beauty all around me. It is a great time to be outside. The weather is almost perfect. Cool, crisp mornings give way to warm sunshine, but not too warm. It's running, hiking and biking weather (but when isn't it?)

With this year's early onset of spring, gardens have been begging for attention (or starting without you) for weeks. Farmers and rancher have been busy getting their fields ready for another productive year. Mud season is in full swing — the quiet before the storm of summer fun.

Every day, I drive into Steamboat from Hayden, and I am struck by what is around me. I pass seas of green, yellow and purple. There is still snow on the mountains, but the green of aspen trees is quickly replacing the white.

In the Yampa Valley, we live in a real paradise. There are few places that boast this amazing balance of access to nature with farms and ranches and the big city. The fact that all three aspects co-exist is something to be appreciated and valued, but never taken for granted. We must be constantly vigilant in balancing all three aspects of this place we call home. We must continue to honor the past, while looking forward to the future and the opportunities it holds.

At Yampatika, I have been doing a lot or reflecting lately. Yampatika has begun its 25th year of existence. The organization was started in 1992 by a dedicated group of individuals who wanted to ensure that more people enjoyed, respected and valued our natural environment and our relationship to it. Through the years, Yampatika has grown and changed with the communities we serve. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is our commitment to this community and educating people about our environment and the important role we all share in its stewardship.

We accomplish this through school-based programs, such as our Environmental Literacy Program; seasonal adult programs, such as wildflower walks and mineral springs tours; and programs, such as summer day camp at our Environmental Learning Center at Legacy Ranch.

Next month, Yampatika will hold its 17th annual Wild Edible Feast Fundraiser. Set for June 8, this year's event will be held at Haymaker Golf Course. Once again, our founder and senior naturalist, Karen Vail, will take volunteers "in to the wild" to collect wild edibles before the event that will be paired with unique proteins. This will also be Yampatika's first event highlighting our anniversary. Tickets for the unique event are $100 or $75 for members of the Young Professional Network.

Visit yampatika.org for more information about the Wild Edible Feast and other upcoming programs.

Joseph P. Haines is executive director of Yampatika.