Community Agriculture Alliance: A Look Back at 2022 and forward to 2023
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
This time of year, we often reflect on the past and think to the New Year with anticipation and hope. The board and staff at Community Agriculture Alliance are energized and moving into 2023 with a growth mindset. While the past several years have been challenging for many, CAA has been fortunate to experience continued growth as we move into our 24th year of serving the Yampa Valley. The following are a few highlights from 2022 and community impact we would like to share.
Leadership for Local Food
The CAA Market continues to expand with almost 60 producers offering hundreds of local food products. Approximately $400,000 in local food sales via the CAA Market are paid directly to the farmers and ranchers who raise and grow food in the Yampa Valley. We are proud of the fact that 100% of product sales go back to producers vs. a small percentage in most retail grocery stores. As demand and interest in local food continues to grow, CAA is committed to connecting customers to their food while maximizing the profit for the producer. As we look to the future, CAA is working to expand retail space and develop resources for a resilient local food system. CAA partnered with the Leadership Steamboat Class of 2021 to support cooperative freezer storage and a shared freezer trailer for local meat producers with the goal of supporting increased local food production.
Connections to Agriculture
Over 200 guests attended Farm to Table dinners in 2022, enjoying delicious local food and hearing directly from the farmers and ranchers who raised or grew the ingredients for the meal. Farm and Ranch Tours brought more than 120 people out into the community, experiencing local agriculture firsthand and learning directly from the farmers and ranchers. CAA is committed to offering authentic, meaningful experiences with local agriculture. Plans for 2023 events are being developed and we are always looking for new partnerships, don’t hesitate to connect with us.
Education, Resources and Support for Local Agriculture
The CAA Board awarded two microloans in 2022 for business expansion. Mountain Bluebird Farm in Hayden is using their loan to purchase tarps, organic compost, water infrastructure materials, row covers and landscape fabric at a new expanded farming location. Baron Livestock is utilizing loan funds to purchase a stock trailer and additional beef steers to expand their current grass-fed beef operation in Clark. Starting in 2023, CAA will accept loan applications on a rolling basis.
CAA has a long-standing partnership with the Routt County CSU Extension on many programs, including the annual Land Stewardship Class. Eighteen participants, including many new landowners, spent a day in the classroom and out in the field learning directly from local professionals on a variety of stewardship and land management topics. In 2023, we plan to continue partnerships while responding to new needs, to bring education, resources, and connections for agriculture.
Since 2019, CAA has partnered on the Yampa Integrated Water Management Plan with over 20 community organizations. The plan was completed in 2022 with twenty recommendations. CAA is continuing to bring connections and diverse collaboration for a balanced river system. CAA was awarded a CO Water Plan grant as a pilot project to hire contractors who are working directly with local agriculture producers to implement water projects that have multiple river health benefits.
As we look to the new year, CAA is hiring Development and Marketing Manager to support growth and expansion of programs. We are honored to live and work in a community that believes in the value of agriculture. CAA remains committed to honoring our agricultural heritage, supporting current agriculture producers, and building for a future where agriculture remains a vibrant part of the Yampa Valley. To learn more, buy local food, make a year end contribution, or to ask a question, visit us at 743 Oak St. or at CommunityAgAlliance.org.
Michele Meyer is the executive director of the Community Agriculture Alliance.
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