Addressing the complexities of growing produce in Colorado

A $300 million industry

Colorado fruit and vegetable production is almost a 300 million dollar industry at the farm gate, with over 60,000 acres in production. A wide variety of fruits and vegetables are grown under some of the best climatic conditions in the country, including warm days, cool nights, and plentiful high-altitude sunshine. Along with nutritious and flavorful products, the fruit and vegetable industry supplies the citizens of Colorado with many other attributes (such as agritourism opportunities and open spaces) that contribute to the quality of life in the state.

carrotsGrowing fresh and flavorful produce

The complexities of growing fresh and flavorful produce led to a collaborative project and the creation of the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA). Growers facing common and sometimes complex issues are able to learn from each other, and their combined forces provide a robust platform for exploring myriad topics, from evolving consumer preferences and food safety concerns to labor and water issues.

Conference in Denver Feb. 25

A conference for those interested in these topics will be held Feb. 25 in Denver.

“As a local food distributor, I am very excited about the first annual CFVGA conference coming up in February,” said board member Aaron W. Perry. “This will be a great opportunity for growers, prospective growers, and a variety of market partners to get together and to strengthen Colorado’s fruit and vegetable production and access.”

Key sessions

onions• Keynote address “Collective Voices: Colorado’s Path to Better Health”, Jandel Allen Davis, MD (Kaiser Permanente)
• Worker Protection Standard Proposed Rule Changes for 2015 – Thia Walker (CSU)
• Overview of CFVGA strategic planning
• Networking at breaks and lunch
• Engagement with produce buyers
• Round table discussions on direct market and organic topics
• Food Safety: Navigating the Rules for Agricultural Water, Hank Giclas (Western Growers)
• Getting the Most Out of Social Media Marketing, Katie Abrams (CSU)
• Annual meeting
• Exhibitors/trade show

The mission of CFVGA, according to President Robert Sakata of Adams County, “is to help improve the business sustainability and profitability of commercial fruit and vegetable growers in Colorado of all sizes, organic and conventional, direct marketing (farmers market, CSA, produce stand, etc.) and wholesale marketing.”

broccoliOne voice

Many other groups promote marketing and improved growing practices in the state, but according to CSU Extension agent Adrian Card, “Our niche is providing one voice for all produce growers in Colorado.” In addition to his expertise with growers in Boulder County, Card is also a founding team member of the Colorado Building Farmers Program. The board is supported by Colorado State University Extension staff and a grant from the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

More information

The cost for the daylong conference is $50 for CFVGA members and $75 for non-members. See conference details at the website.

For more information, contact CFVGA board president Robert Sakata at (303) 947-3097 or rtsataka@aol.com.