Community Agriculture Alliance: Connecting on a personal level

Meredith Rose
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

Usually, the fall months bring celebratory planning for the Community Agriculture Alliance, as this is when we normally have our annual Farm-to-Table dinner fundraiser at Harwigs. This year, we scaled back, brought in technology and got the chance to connect with consumers on a more personal level.

We decided to give Yampavore’s the chance to host their own farm-to-table dinner in their personal homes. We partnered with three different chefs, Chereen Leong-Schwarz who owns a private chef business, Wilderbean Provisions, Russell Goodman, who is one of the chefs at Elkstone Farm, and JJ, from longtime downtown restaurant, Harwigs.

Our first dinner was prepared by Leong-Schwarz, who utilized a variety of products from eight different CAA Market producers. Everything from local chicken broth to honey was sourced from the CAA Market. Leong-Schwarz shops at the market for her usual private chef events, but all of the food was graciously donated by local producers for this event. Leong-Schwarz also donated her time to the cause.

This generosity highlights our mission to lead community, grow agriculture and create alliance. It also creates a community that we are very proud to be part of. Without the growers, the Ag Alliance wouldn’t be able to connect to the consumers.

Leong-Schwarz worked with the host to craft a menu that distinctively highlighted local food. The event featured a four-course meal, with details on the food as well as the farmer. This is what made the event truly unique. The attendees were able to learn about agriculture in the Yampa Valley and ask specific questions that gave them insight into the people that raised and grew the food on their plate as well as issues that agriculture, in general, is facing currently.

Alongside table chat about agriculture, the Ag Alliance presented two videos that allowed attendees to get to know their farmer and their food a bit more. The videos consisted of producers giving a virtual tour of their operation and showing their appreciation for CAA Market customers who are choosing to buy local.

Buying local doesn’t have to end when it starts to get cold out. Since our growing season is short in the Yampa Valley, season extension structures (i.e. greenhouses and hoop houses) allow us to have fresh vegetables even into the fall and winter. Since food production doesn’t stop, we won’t stop either. The CAA Market is open year-round.

Each year, our stock varies as we gain new producers and the demand for local food increases, so you just may be able to find that elusive local salad mix even in the dead of winter. You will also find microgreens, eggs, meat, cheese, honey and baked goods, just to name a few.

Whether you’re an avid local food shopper or have never dipped your toes into eating locally before, we welcome the opportunity for you to indulge in this year’s version on our Yampavore Farm-to-Table dinner. You choose your guest list, we’ll bring the food. To inquire about hosting your own event, contact Michele Meyer at

Meredith Rose is a staff member of the Community Ag Alliance.

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