Posted by: Curtis Utley, Jefferson County Extension
On February 16th I attended the second annual Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association Conference and the program was fantastic! Over 300 people attended the conference from all across Colorado who grow fruits and vegetables or support the production of fruits and vegetables as consultants, product sales reps and extension personnel.
|Watermelon on the vine|
The day started off with a Colorado grown breakfast and words of encouragement and respect for the newly formed association from the Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture, Don Brown.
|Youth are encouraged to eat more fruits and vegetables|
Don was followed by Major General Gary Dylewski with a presentation on Mission Readiness, a national security non-profit organization committed to changing the food culture in America to fight the obesity epidemic that has rendered 70% of America’s youth ineligible for military service. This statistic is shocking to me as I always assumed the military would take anyone who wanted to join. Now I know the military has minimum standards and having the correct body mass index for your height is part of physical standard.
After lunch we heard from the passionate Justice Hobbs, former associate justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, on Colorado water law and how important it is to maintain Colorado’s prior appropriation law to maintain the state’s greatest industry, Agriculture. In the arid west, leveraging water resources by diversion has been the most important tool to increase productive acreage and in-turn successful farms and ranches. Without water resources there would be no Colorado agricultural industry.
|Fish screens on one of the major diversions of the Colorado River, Western Slope, CO|
The afternoon was rounded out by 16 different breakout sessions on everything from land access, product marketing and farm labor issues to presentations on production techniques, including sub-surface drip irrigation and season extension with the use of high tunnel hoop houses.
|Shade cloth hoops to prevent sunscald on peppers, Rocky Ford, CO|
If you are a market gardener or a specialty crop producer or you dream of one day becoming a fruit and vegetable producer you should seriously consider attending this fantastic conference next year as the opportunities to network, learn the business, and share in the general enthusiasm about Colorado produce is invaluable. Join today at: www.coloradoproduce.org