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Northwest Colorado Food Coalition: Agriculture looking ahead to more resilient 2021

Libby Christensen
For Steamboat Pilot & Today

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — 2020 brought whole new levels of uncertainty and challenges to agriculture in our community and beyond. Producers and consumers in the Yampa Valley are now looking ahead to the new year to build more resiliency and community health into our local food system.

One way producers, both farmers and ranchers, are looking to do this is through increased direct-to-consumer sales. It can take many forms, from sales through the CAA Market, located at 743 Oak St. on the corner of Eighth and Oak streets and open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; the Main Street Steamboat Farmers Market, which opens for the season June 12; the Hayden Farmers Market, also opening in June; or community supported agriculture, known as CSAs.

CSAs are a simple idea. Members pay a sum to cover the cost of produce throughout an entire growing season, which in the Yampa Valley can last 12 to 20 weeks. The CSA model provides a sustainable financial model for farmers, positioning customers as shareholders with longer-term commitment to the farm. In return, CSA members get regular boxes of fresh, local produce and, in some cases, may also include meat, eggs and flowers. The member agrees to take what the farm produces, embracing seasonal crops and sharing the lean and abundant times.



For many meat producers in our valley, a similar model is for consumers to purchase a whole animal from steaks to ground meat. This gives the consumer an opportunity to talk to the producer and processor directly. For producers, this reduces the labor associated with marketing and selling individual cuts. It also provides necessary capital to support the ranch. If you have the freezer space or a group of friends you are willing to purchase the animal with, buying a whole animal direct from a local ranch will often be less expensive for the same or better-quality meat you would get by the cut at the grocery store.

Here are a few farms in the Yampa Valley with available CSA shares or whole animals this season:



Mystic Hills Farmstead

What: Vegetables whole ($475) and half ($300) shares available with option for whole and half animal shares (pork, lamb and poultry)

Duration: 12 weeks

Contact: mystichillsfarmstead@gmail.com or mystichillsfarmstead.com/our-csa

Elkstone Farm

What: Vegetables ($330 for summer and $270 for fall), with option to add-on farm dinners

Duration: Summer share 11 weeks; fall share nine weeks

Contact: elkstonefarm.com/at-the-farm

Bee Grateful Farm

What: Vegetables whole ($499) and half shares available ($299)

Duration: 12 weeks

Contact: beegratefulfarm.com/products/csa-membership-deposit-for-2021-spring-or-summer-steamboat

Mountain Bluebird Farm

What: Customizable weekly vegetable share ($599)

Duration: June to October

Contact: info@mountainbluebirdfarm.com or mountainbluebirdfarm.com

Emi Ramirez, SOROCO FFA and Routt County 4-H

What: Custom-cut beef and lamb. Wholes and halves available.

Contact: 4jkramirez@gmail.com or text 970-291-1457

There are lots of options to support local producers and buy local food. Now is a great time to learn more about local agriculture and plan to eat local food in 2021.

Libby Christensen is the extension agent at CSU Routt County Extension. She can be reached at lchristensen@co.routt.co.us or 970-879-0825.


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