Kate Greenberg was appointed the Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture by Governor Jared Polis in December 2018. As Commissioner, Greenberg will lead the Department’s daily operations, direct its 300 employees, and oversee the agency’s eight divisions: Animal Health, Brand Inspection, Colorado State Fair, Conservation Services, Inspection and Consumer Services, Laboratory Services, Markets, and Plant Industry.
“For the last ten years, I have sat around dozens of kitchen tables, worked with hundreds of farmers and ranchers, and have been a fierce advocate for family agriculture and its essential role in what we value most about Colorado,” said Greenberg. “I have worked the land, and worked on behalf of those that work the land. I have no delusion that the challenges family agriculture faces in this state and nation are deeply complex, or that the responsibility to deliver smart, innovative, and bold ways forward for Colorado agriculture is urgent.”
Most recently, Greenberg was the Western Program Director for National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) where she was involved in water issues. This includes working closely with Colorado’s Basin Roundtables and being involved with state’s Water Plan and Colorado River Basin water policy. Over the last six years, she has worked with producers across Colorado to reshape policies and programs at the state and federal level that will enable more family producers to make a living for themselves and their families on the land.
This has included working on issues of farmland affordability, agriculture education, access to capital and credit, and Food Safety Modernization Act compliance. In February 2011, Greenberg joined the Sonoran Institute, which connects people and communities with their natural resources. As the Restoration Field assistant, she managed a native tree greenhouse and seed-saving program as part of an international project.
Her career has also included managing natural resources field programs at Whitman College and working full-time on a direct market farm in Western Washington. This work, in addition to her time working on farms in Eastern Washington, Northern California, and the Southwest, established her commitment to bridging the gap between urban consumers, conservation, and the agricultural community, which she feels is essential to ensuring a future with agriculture in Colorado. Greenberg also has a lengthy list of awards and community involvement:
Quivira Coalition, Board Chair since December 2016 and Board member since 2013
Southwest Basin Roundtable, Liaison since January 2015
Southwest Farm Fresh Coop, Former Board Member
“Conservation Generation: How Young Farmers and Ranchers are Essential to Tackling Water Scarcity in the Arid West,” 2016 NYFC report
“Emerging Leader Award” by the Western Resource Advocates, 2016
Nominated as “Climate Trailblazer” by office of California Governor Jerry Brown, September 2018
“As Commissioner, I look forward to meeting with Colorado’s farmers, ranchers, and agricultural organizations to further advance an industry that is so vital to our way of life,” continued Greenberg. For more on the Colorado Department of Agriculture, visit our website at www.colorado.gov/ag.
Directory Highlights Farms, Ag Biz
The Colorado Department of Agriculture annually publishes the Colorado Farm Fresh Directory, which promotes Colorado farmers’ markets, roadside stands, u-picks, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) producers, agritourism activities, wineries and farms and ranches that sell direct to the public. The 2019 edition is being organized, and producers are encouraged to submit their information for inclusion.
“We are celebrating the 35th anniversary of this popular publication this year,” said Wendy White, marketing specialist at the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “We hope to make it the biggest and best edition ever.”
More than 100,000 copies of the publication will be distributed in June to consumers through libraries, extension offices, farmers’ markets, welcome centers, chambers of commerce, home milk delivery services and other businesses. In addition, Farm Fresh will be available as a mobile app for smartphones and online atwww.coloradoagriculture.com.
The fee to be included in the directory is $25, and the listing deadline is February 15, 2019. For more information or to request a listing form, contact Loretta Lopez at (303) 869-9175 or visitwww.coloradoagriculture.com.
“We stumbled on this opportunity,” said Allen Plumley who
along with his partner Jamie Williams became the new owners of Villa Grove
Trade on January 1, 2019. “I don’t think it was something we were looking for
when we came to the valley.”
And maybe that’s just how these Old West stories are supposed to go, the less planning the better! Regardless, the pair now steps to the helm of one of the most historic businesses, as well as the established port of entry at the northern end of the San Luis Valley. Villa Grove Trade has been a general store since 1882 and includes a restaurant and retail area that promotes local food, artists and musicians. The business also includes The Inn @ Villa Grove.
The new owners hail from Hutchinson, Kansas and both have restaurant management experience. They have been working on site with the former owners Amber and Jeff Shook since last summer.
“Jamie started working here in mid-June, and my sister had worked here before,” said Plumley in an interview with Saguache Today in December. Plumley arrived in late summer after discovering that the place was up for sale, which accelerated the pair’s plans to move west to Colorado.
“Originally there was somebody else that was going to buy
it,” explained Plumley, confirming earlier reports that Villa Grove Trade was
going to be bought by a Sous-Chef-from-Boulder.
Yes, for those who may not have heard, it was the tongue-wagging news that the long-time owners of Villa Grove Trade were going to be selling the place to a Sous-Chef-from-Boulder that manifested more than a few puzzling looks. As expected, there were concerns that things would change, drastically.
“It wasn’t something that a lot of locals weren’t looking
forward to,” stated Plumley.
But who could blame the Shooks for wanting to sell the place
– to anyone!? Hadn’t they done their time, 15 years in all? Running the only
game-in-town for food and lodging can wear on folks. Sure it’s fun when the
summer visitors pass through with their tips and tale tall adventures. And no
doubt, there’s always time for a visit when the locals pop in for pancakes and
coffee. But those 15 years that Amber and Jeff ran The Villa, also included
some lean times. You wonder how you’re going to get through February, then
March and maybe even as late as June until the money starts to flow again along
with the spring run-off. So it’s nice when friends and neighbors see hard-working
people like the Shooks get the pay-off in the end.
“I just want to sit and rock my grand babies,” Amber said
during an October visit. “But we’re not going anywhere. We’ll still be here in
Villa,” she added. That was back when the other buyer was the front-runner.
But the San Luis Valley has a strong spiritual reputation for
a reason. So it was a comfort for many to learn that the winds of fate had
changed direction and that people with a more congruous vision would be buying
the place. For now, it doesn’t seem like there will be too much will change at
the northern end of the SLV.
“Our plan and our vision is probably not too different from
what Amber and Jeff have; we plan on
keeping it the same,” Plumey confirmed.
While regulars can expect to see the same menu, like any new owners the pair will introduce some new items as well and perhaps some extended hours during the summer, including a weekly dinner night. Of course, a good meal is nicely paired with live music, another mainstay regulars can continue to look forward to. Sounds like The Villa will be grooving again come this March, with Jeff agreeing to help set up the local gigs.
As for now, you can find the Villa Grove Trade open with the same hours which are 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Daily, closed on Tuesday. The establishment is located officially at 34094 Highway 285 in Villa Grove, CO 81155. You can also stay connected through the Villa Grove Trade Facebook Page.
Congratulations to the new owners, Allen and Jamie! And many
thanks and best wishes to Amber and Jeff. Much peace and joy to all!
Journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great Pumpkin, LLC a digital media company in Leadville, Colorado which publishes Leadville Today and Saguache Today. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
During our monthly meeting, as the first week of the 72nd
legislative session began, the State Board of Education walked across the
street to attend the State
of the State address. Jared Polis, our new Governor, reiterated his primary
education related promise. “Our top priority this session is empowering
every single Colorado community to offer free, full-day kindergarten while
expanding free preschool to 8,000 more Colorado children.” The state
already pays for kindergarten students to attend for half day classes. Many
school districts offer full-day kindergarten, using district funds and parent
paid tuition to pay for the additional half day. If the state agrees to pay for
free full-day kindergarten for all kindergarten students in Colorado, the estimated
cost will be an additional $250 million per year.
In the first week of the new session, 107 new bills were
of these involved Education. Of the seventeen, five were sponsored by
Democrats, four by Republicans and 8 were bi-partisan. From their introduction the
bills will pass through the Senate and House committees,
and to both Senate and House Chambers before they become law. Many never get
that far, but for now, legislators worked into the night to get their five
bills written and submitted by the January 10 deadline.
In addition to following all the legislative activity at the
Capitol, the State Board of Education met for two days. One of our duties involved
a vote to approve the monthly allocation of state funds to the 178 school
districts in Colorado.
Under the public-school finance act of 1994 (Section 22-54-115, C.R.S.), the State Board is responsible for determining the monthly amount of money each school district receives from the state. At our January meeting, we certified the December 2018 calculations and distribution. All districts and state distribution amounts were listed. The calculations for January through June 2019 will be certified at the February meeting. All information is available on the State Board of Education website. Here are examples of the state distribution for districts in three counties that I represent: Roaring Fork SD with 5524 students, $1,825,907.67; Garfield 16 with 1163 students, $681,911.92; Meeker with 700 students, $191,591.25; Rangely with 483 students, $288,488.64 and Moffat County with 2106 students, $595,107.88. Throughout all of Colorado, the December distribution totaled $367,678,953.24. (Publisher’s Note: for Saguache and Moffat School District Numbers, connect HERE.)
In another vote, the State Board approved a Charter
School appeal for the SKIES Academy. The SKIES Academy Charter application
was initially granted, but later revoked, by the Cherry Creek School
District. The State Board found that
this was not in the best interest of students, families and the community and
remanded the Charter to go back to the local district to work together for a
resolution. Charter SKIES Academy, based at Centennial Airport, will be a
hands-on, project-based curriculum for 6-8 graders. It will focus on students desiring a possible
career in aerospace engineering, piloting and other aspects of aviation.
Thus we begin the first month of the 2019 legislative
session and the first State Board Meeting of the New Year.
Joyce Rankin is
on the State Board of Education representing the Third Congressional District,
which includes Saguache County. She writes the monthly column,
“Across the Street” to share with constituents in the 29
counties she represents. The Department of Education, where the
State Board of Education meets, is located across the street from the
Over the 2018 holiday season this year, Colorado had a wakeup
call. Starting Christmas Eve, and continuing
through the next 72 hours, Colorado lost a total of 9 lives in 7 crashes. Those killed ranged from teenagers all the
way to grandparents. The news talked
about the loss of lives, people talked about it around friends and family; but
pretty much Colorado went about its daily life after hearing the news.
If these people had been killed in a different way, say they
were shot during the same period of time; the outcry from the public would have reached the heavens. But, for some strange reason, deaths in
traffic crashes have been accepted as something that just happens. It needs to be acknowledged as a true, tragic
issue, and needs to be stopped.
On December 27 2018, when Troopers heard of the fifth
person dying that single day, we decided we had to step up and get the public
to act on preventing crashes; it starts with a message to Coloradoans that it
has to stop. The Chief of the Colorado
State Patrol, Matthew Packard, made a video with a powerful statement to the
residents of the state. He hearkened that
we need a call to action to help protect the public from dying senseless
deaths. We hope this will be the
beginning of a movement to protect the public.
The State Patrol is seeing crashes involving DUI/DUID,
lane violations, speeding, exceeding safe speed, and being inattentive to
driving as some of our most common reasons for fatal crashes. Another reason we
have dying in crashes is some people still refuse to wear their seatbelt, and
we know it would have saved their life. I
want you to know it’s not just limited to fatal crashes; Coloradoans need to be
aware there are way too many crashes as well.
The State Patrol is in charge of traffic safety in all
unincorporated areas throughout Colorado.
There are 5 State Patrol districts with subsequent troop offices within
them, strategically positioned throughout the state to handle crashes. During
that deadly 72 hour period, fatal crashes happened in all 5 State Patrol
The State Patrol is focused on eliminating crashes, yet
crashes continue to plague the state. The
fatal crashes are worse in some counties, than others; these are El Paso,
Adams, and Jefferson. Weld County in
particular leads the state in both fatal and injury crashes. The crashes aren’t a metro or rural area
problem either; both areas have far too many crashes.
I listed the top problem violations where drivers are not
taking responsibility to drive safely seriously, but this isn’t the entire list
of areas with issues. It takes every
agency, every corporation, every household, every person in the state to lower
the amount of fatal and injury crashes we are experiencing. You have that responsibility.
Over the next few months my articles will focus on the
causes of the crashes throughout the state this past year. We will also look into what steps you can
take to walk away from a crash if you are unfortunately involved in one.
What I want everyone to know is that traffic crashes are
preventable and that is why we call them crashes and not accidents. Also survivability in a crash is
exponentially raised by the use of seatbelts.
With snow and cold in the forecast for the last day of 2018 and into the New Year, Saguache residents may want to stay a bit closer to home. And the good news is you can do that, and help turn up the heat for a good cause as you ring in 2019!
Friends and neighbors near and far are invited to this Monday’s Saguache Volunteer Fire Department (SVFD) Fundraiser Dinner and Silent Auction. Join the celebration this Monday, Dec. 31 at The Oasis Restaurant from 4 – 7 p.m. where the menu will be smoked beef brisket, salad, mashed potatoes, homemade roll and a drink. The dinner is a fundraiser for the local firefighter crews that help to keep everyone safe in Saguache Today. The cost is $20/plate. In addition, the Oasis will offer a cash bar from 5 – 7 p.m. for those looking to raise a toast of good cheer to the New Year!
In addition the SVFD will hold a Silent Auction starting at 4 p.m. Bid on your favorite items, including a Cup of Coffee a Day, donated by the Wapiti Coffee House, painted works from local cowboy and artist, Wade Collins, and Dinner and a Movie Date Night from the Village Pub and Cozy Castle Cinema to name a few. The bidding will go on until 6:45 p.m. at which time the winners will be announced and payment collected.
So if you’re staying close to home – or passing through looking for a tasty meal for a great cause, grab your checkbook and head over to the Oasis for Firefighters Fundraiser. The restaurant is located at 630 Gunnison Ave, just off Highway 285 as you drive through the town of Saguache.
After the fundraiser, the fun will continue with the Oasis’ New Year’s Eve Party. Live music starts at 9 p.m. by “The Martian Cartel” with band members Scott Alexander, Pearl Alexander, Dennis Neuhaus, Dale Hazard and Jerry Arellano renaming their group one the one-night NYE gig, just for fun! But they’ll be playing all of your old favorite tunes from Classic Rock to Country, to those danceable Oldies. The Oasis will have their bar open from 5 p. m. to 1 a.m. Cheers at midnight!
For New Year’s Eve celebrants who may want to secure lodging for the night, Saguache Today offers the following options in town and just a short walk away from the party!
“The farmers and ranchers of Colorado wrote enormous parts of this legislation,” stated Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet as the passage of the final 2018 Farm Bill jumped another hurdle earlier this month. “What passed today is a reflection of their priorities,” he added.
Earlier this week, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 reached the finish line by making it into the law books with President Trump’s signature on December 20, 2018.
So what’s in it for local farmers and ranchers? For that, Saguache Today turns to Senator Bennet who is a member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry, and Natural Resources. He is also one of the authors of the successful legislation.
Included below is an outline of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018’spriorities as well as some pointed comments from Senator Bennet’s speech from the Senate floor the day the legislation made its mark on Congress. So, if your business or organization’s project crosses paths with the mountains, the fields, the forests, or the streams, take note, because it’s not ALL politics in DC, something actually got done this month.
“When I joined the Senate Agriculture Committee, the truth is that I had no idea how hard it can be for our farmers and ranchers. Like many people, I had very little appreciation for where our food comes from, and knowing that, if you’re in agriculture, you can do everything right and still fall behind because of forces beyond your control” – Colorado Senator Michael Bennet.
When it comes to conserving land, water, and wildlife and adapting to climate change, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 will have impacts in the following areas:
• Drought Resilience: provides new tools for producers to mitigate drought and conserve water in the West; funds the Watershed Act (“PL-566”) to support off-farm water infrastructure projects in western watersheds and waives duplicative planning requirements.
• Soil Health: creates a pilot program to increase the amount of carbon stored in soil and improve soil health; ensures the pilot prioritizes drought-prone areas and evaluates economic outcomes.
• Healthy Habitat and Rangelands: improves access to conservation planning, rewards grazing practices that promote drought resilience, soil health, and wildfire management, and directs more conservation funding towards wildlife habitat improvements.
• Conservation Easements: increases funding for agricultural
conservation easements and makes it easier for western landowners to pass their
land on to the next generation.
• Outdoor Recreation: reauthorizes and increases funding for the Voluntary Public Access program to improve habitat and provide access to hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation on private lands.
• Data for Drought Monitoring: improves the data used for
drought monitoring to provide disaster assistance to livestock producers and
mitigate economic the effects of climate change.
“In the Senate Agriculture Committee, we don’t have partisan differences—we have regional differences that we resolve. That’s because farmers and ranchers don’t have the luxury of pretending politics is the only thing that matters. They’re focused on handing the next generation more opportunity. That’s what this bill does.” – CO Senator Michael Bennet.
The 2018 Farm Law will improve forest and watershed health
in the following manners:
• Flexible Partnerships Act: provides rural communities an avenue to engage with the Forest Service to lease unused facilities to address housing, infrastructure, and other needs.
• Forest Health: improves good neighbor authority and
continues Bennet’s insect and disease treatment program, both of which were established
in the 2014 Farm Bill and modified in the 2018 Omnibus, to expedite hazardous
fuel reduction projects.
• Watershed Health: includes a new Water Source Protection Program to support innovative forest health partnerships; authorizes the Forest Service to evaluate the condition of our watersheds to prioritize forest restoration efforts and monitor their effectiveness.
• Wildfire Protection: establishes a pilot program to protect utility infrastructure from passing wildfires by encouraging vegetation management on Forest Service land.
• Small Tracts Act: expands the Forest Service’s authority to protect high-priority lands and promote efficient land management.
• National Forest Foundation: reauthorizes the National Forest Foundation (NFF), a key partner in Colorado, through 2023 to support conservation and stewardship projects.
• West Fork Fire Station Act: provides Dolores County land
for the construction of a new fire station along the West Fork of the Dolores
River, where wildfires pose a growing threat to homeowners.
“And today, our farmers and ranchers
are facing tremendous uncertainty. They’ve got persistent drought and threats
of wildfire, which are going worse due to climate change. They’ve got low
commodity prices and challenges with finding people that can work because of
our immigration debate here in Washington. And now, on top of all of that,
they’ve got the confusion of the existing trade policies of the United States.”
“Two weeks ago, the USDA announced that farm incomes are projected to drop 12 percent this year. When you add it all up – all the uncertainty up, the policy up, the politics up – farm incomes are going to be down 12 percent this year. All of this acts like a weight on our farmers and ranchers, making it even harder for them to pass on the legacy of their work to the next generation.” – Colorado Senator Michael Bennet
Portions of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 specifically address expanding economic opportunities, both for those already making the grade, as well as encouraging younger generations or businesspersons to get into the agriculture game.
• Hemp Agriculture: legalizes hemp as an agriculture commodity, providing certainty and economic opportunity for Colorado, including the ability to access crop insurance and federal grants.
• Rural Broadband: increases funding 14-fold for loans and grants to extend broadband service to high-need rural areas.
• Farmer and Rancher Stress: reauthorizes the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network to assist states and nonprofits that establish helplines, suicide prevention training, and support groups.
• Food Waste: requires a study to identify opportunities to
reduce waste and improve farm income.
• Data for Disaster Assistance: encourages the USDA to
consult with the bison industry to use the best available market value data for
the Livestock Indemnity Program.
• Research Advances: prioritizes USDA research to improve
hop plant health and the use of big data for precision management of dryland
“Earlier this year, our Ag Commissioner in Colorado, Don Brown, who is himself one of the most successful farmers in our state, said, “You’re only 22 once.” And by that he meant, there’s an entire generation out there deciding whether or not to pursue a career on the family farm or ranch. And they’re looking at all this uncertainty, and a lot of them are deciding that it’s not worth it. That’s why the average age of farmers is what it is in the United States. We owe it to our farmers and ranchers to provide consistency where we can, and to help preserve the legacy of American agriculture for years to come.” – Colorado Senator Michael Bennet
And finally with an eye to the future, when it comes to reducing carbon pollution and increasing energy security, here are the ways the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 will have an impact:
• Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency: provides $625
million to increase renewable energy and energy efficiency in rural
• Energy Storage: makes energy storage technologies eligible
for USDA Rural Energy for American Program funding and financing.
• Carbon Capture and Utilization: establishes a new $10 million
program to provide technical assistance to rural communities investing in
carbon capture projects.
• Biogas Technologies and Clean Energy: promotes the use of
biogas technologies to reduce carbon emissions in rural communities.
• Cyber and Grid Security: ensures cybersecurity and grid
improvement projects are eligible for $5 billion in USDA Rural Utility Service
• More Effective Clean Energy Funding: allows the U.S.
Department of Energy to provide technical assistance to the USDA to increase
the utilization of USDA loans for rural energy systems.
• New Research for Carbon Utilization: allows carbon dioxide
created during a biobased production that is permanently sequestered or
utilized to be eligible for Biomass Research and Development.
“All in all, this 2018 Farm Bill is an excellent piece of legislation. And a lot of credit lies in the approach we took in the Agriculture Committee. It should be like this for all our committees. We don’t have partisan differences. If we have differences, we have regional differences, and we work them out.”
“And that’s why that Committee, which I’m proud to serve on, is one of the only functioning committees in the Senate. We passed a five-year Farm Bill the last time there was a Farm Bill, not a six-month one, not a six-day one, but a five-year Farm Bill. And this is another one, because Republicans and Democrats both know that we’ve got to support our farmers and ranchers, not create even more uncertainty for them.”
“The other privilege of being on that committee is that I spend a lot of time in my state in counties where it’s unlikely that I’m ever going to win 10 or 20 percent of the vote. But I keep going back and back, not because I think I’ll win, but because I think that, as a country, we’ve got to find a way to bring ourselves together and solve problems.”
“Our farmers and ranchers are a model for that. They’re applying their ingenuity to challenges like climate and drought every single day. They don’t have the luxury – and I would say we don’t have the luxury – of pretending that politics is the only thing that matters. They’re focused on delivering their farm or ranch to the next generation and handing them more opportunity, not less. To them, that’s all that matters. And that’s the ethic we should be applying to our national politics.” – Colorado Senator Michael Bennet
Journalist Kathy Bedell owns The Great
Pumpkin, LLC a digital media company located in Leadville, Colorado which
publishes Leadville Today and Saguache Today.