Community Agriculture Alliance: CAA community impact | SteamboatToday.com

Community Agriculture Alliance: CAA community impact

Michele Meyer/For Steamboat Today

Community Agriculture Alliance

The Community Agriculture Alliance was founded in 1999 by a diverse group of residents who were concerned that the heritage and economics of local agriculture in the Yampa Valley were in danger.

CAA's mission is "to preserve the agricultural heritage of the Yampa Valley by initiating, supporting and encouraging actions, programs and policies that mutually benefit and connect agriculture, business and resort interests in the Yampa Valley."

CAA operates under the following three major anchors to provide leadership, education and programs that promote agriculture and connect the shared interests in our region: Enhance and promote local agriculture, including food, fiber, products or services; provide education about the critical importance of agriculture; and serve as an ag resource connection.

These are great, well thought-out words, but all this still raises the question, So what? What difference has CAA made in the community? How has it helped local agriculture? Following are a few statistics to help answer those questions and demonstrate the impact CAA has made.

Local food programs

Since 2014, CAA has managed the online CAA Market, a year-round online market offering producers the opportunity to sell local food and products directly to customers. This program has a direct economic impact on local producers, as illustrated by the following.

• 53 producers offer more than 530 different products seasonally.

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• 2,054 dozen eggs, 558 pounds of ground beef, 267 jars of jam/jelly and 246 jars of honey were sold last year.

• Almost $90,000 was paid to producers for sales in 2016.

• Routt County's local food business planning worksheet and process has helped streamline regulatory issues.

• USDA AMS Farmers Market Promotion Program Grant brought more than $81,000 into community between 2015 and 2017.

• Plate & Pint dinner has raised $15,000 since 2014, serving a local food dinner to 180 guests, featuring local food donated from 15 different producers

Ag Appreciation Week

In connection with National Ag Day, CAA has coordinated a weeklong promotion featuring education and events for local agriculture under the theme "Where would you be without agriculture? Naked and Hungry." Following are some examples.

• Almost $18,000 was raised from local businesses to sponsor CAA mission in 2017

• Ten different educational events were offered, including Heritage Ag Storytelling, with more than 550 people attending

• 75 sponsors and 20 partners helped with events, and 11 restaurants participated with local food specials.

Water education and events

CAA is committed to providing information, resources and education about the critical importance of water, not only to agriculture, but also for our entire community.

• CWCB grants have brought $26,800 into community in past 12 months.

• CAA is a Yampa-White-Green Rivers Basin Roundtable education provider.

Cayuse Classic horse shows

Providing leadership and connections to our western heritage, CAA coordinates the only local horse shows, besides Routt County Fair, in the community. These draw about 35 participants per show, and 120 classes were entered.

Ranch tours

In partnership with Colorado State University Routt County Extension, CAA coordinates ranch and farm tours for visitors and residents to experience true local agriculture.

• More than 500 visitors and local residents have attended Ranch Tours.

• Tours are provided for private groups, including Casey's Pond residents, private businesses and groups

Ag education and communication

• Ag Journal is sent monthly to more than 1,700 community members, with seven ag related organizations contributing content and information. Sign up to receive the journal at communityagalliance.org.

• CAA's newspaper column in Steamboat Today is published on Friday 52 weeks per year, published on Fridays; 12 ag related organizations contribute content to this column.

With all these numbers, what does it mean? What difference does it make?

It means local agriculture continues to be an integral part of our community. It means our heritage of ranching and farming continues today. It means there is a future for local agriculture, and that future is bright. It means people have the opportunity to see and understand agriculture from the producers' view.

Finally, it means agriculture will continue as a vibrant part of the Yampa Valley for generations to come.

Join us in supporting agriculture. Become a member of CAA, and make a membership contribution. Join the online CAA Market and shop local at caamarket.org. It's easy to get involved and know you will be helping to make a difference in our community.

Michele Meyer is program coordinator for Community Agriculture Alliance.