Producers, educators, and researchers with practical knowledge and regional experience will present at the conference.

Please be advised that topics and speakers are subject to change.

Keynote speaker :

Ray Archarchuleta-photouleta is a Conservation Agronomist at the NRCS East National Technology Center, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Ray teaches soil health and the principles of agroecology throughout the country.  He has 25 years of experience with the Natural Resources Conservation Service working in New Mexico, Missouri, Oregon, and now in North Carolina and has held the following positions: Soil Conservation technician, Soil Conservationist, Nutrient/Irrigation Specialist, Water Quality Project Manager, District Conservationist, and Area Agronomist. He is also a Certified Professional Soil Scientist with Soil Science Society of America. Ray worked for two years in Guatemala as a Livestock Specialist in the Peace Corps. His infectious enthusiasm for soil health has earned him the moniker, Ray the Soils Guy.  He has a B.S. in Agricultural Biology.

Breakout session and pre-conference speakers:

Steve Anderson, a farmer in the Olathe Area of the Uncompahgre Valley served on the Board of Directors of the Uncompahgre Valley Water Users in 2014 and 2015.  He is now the Manager of Uncompahgre Valley Water Users Association. Steve will be presenting at the Water Boot Camp.

Aaron Clay was raised in Hotchkiss, Colorado and has practiced law in Delta since 1980.  His practice is a general practice, with emphasis on real estate, water, business planning, and estate planning.    He was the Water Referee for Colorado Water Court, Division 4 (Gunnison, Uncompahgre, and San Miguel River Basins) from 1982 to 2008.  Among his clients are Tri-County Water Conservancy District, Grand Mesa Water Conservancy District, North Fork Water Conservancy District, Grand Mesa Water Users Association, and numerous other ditch companies and water users.

Brandon Creamer is a third generation seedstock Angus Breeder in Montrose, Colorado. His family owns and operates Lazy JB Angus Ranch. The Family ranch has around 230 Registered Angus mother cows and owned 435 acres and lease about 2500+ acres for summer and winter pasture. Along with being a Registered Angus Breeder Brandon works for Colorado State University Extension as the 4-H Program Coordinator for Montrose and Ouray.

Steve Ela is the operations manager and a partner of Ela Family Farms. He oversees the day to day goings-on of the farm. On any given day this may include planting new fruit trees, changing tractor tires, putting together gift baskets, doing office work, or marketing fruit. Steve is very involved in promoting the fruit industry and supporting the community of growers. Steve is active in organic tree fruit research and has helped to organize two major national organic tree fruit research symposiums.

Jim Elder became an “accidental farmer” when he purchased an abandoned, foreclosed farm in 2010. After rebuilding the rubble remains, Jim and his wife Janet, spend their spare time converting barren soil into a vibrant farm of fruit trees, berries, vegetables and pumpkins. They open their farm to fruit and berry pickers, apple cider and chili aficionados, and other agritourism educational activities.

Sajun Folsom and his wife Paula started and own Laid Back Ranch. They have been farming in Norwood for the last 7 years. They started out raising a few steers a year doing all natural grass finished beef and have grown their operation to include a moderate cow calf operation, pigs, broiler chickens, layers, and turkeys. Sajun worked for Indian Ridge Farm for five years and managed their broiler operation for two years. Sajun continues to help process chickens at Indian Ridge Farm.

Rudy Garcia, the State Agronomist for New Mexico, has been with NRCS for 27-years. He has largely focused on irrigation water management, salinity management, nutrient management and cropping systems that build soil health.  Rudy recently became the Regional Soil Health Specialist for the states of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado.  In this position, Rudy works to facilitate the adoption of soil health management systems in order to advance the art and science of building healthy soils through NRCS conservation practices and management, and by understanding how the soil resource ecosystem functions.

Kate Greenberg is the Western Water Program Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition. Kate organizes young farmers and ranchers across the West, advocates for supportive policy, and promotes land and water stewardship. Prior to joining NYFC, Kate worked on vegetable farms, managed environmental policy field programs, and restored riparian habitat in Mexico’s Colorado River Delta. When not on the road, Kate works at a small CSA vegetable farm in the foothills of the San Juan Mountains. She sits on the Board of Directors of the Quivira Coalition and lives in Durango, CO.

Becca Jablonski, CSU Assistant Professor and Food Systems Extension Economist, Becca’s research focuses on understanding processes of rural and regional development, with an emphasis on identifying strategies to support entrepreneurship, improve agribusiness performance and enhance regional food systems. She is particularly interested in assessing the impacts of food system initiatives and strengthened rural-urban linkages to farmers, supply chain participants, and rural/regional economies.

Greg Judy of Clark, Missouri runs a grazing operation on 1400 acres of leased land that is made up from 11 farms. Greg and his wife Jan went from near bankruptcy in 1999 to paying off a 200 acre farm and house in 3 years with custom grazing on leased land and are completely debt free. Holistic High Density Planned Grazing is used to graze cows, cow/calf pairs, bred heifers, horses, and stockers. They have also started direct marketing grass-fed beef, lamb and pork. Greg has traveled the United States teaching the benefits of Holistic High Density Planned Grazing, multi-species grazing, custom grazing and wildlife management.

Beth Karberg, Salinity Field Coordinator of the Lower Gunnison Basin Colorado River Salinity Control Program will be presenting Funding Assistance for Irrigation System Improvements at the Friday Water Boot Camp.

Don Lareau is an organic flower and vegetable farmer in Paonia Colorado.  Growing intensively on 5 acres, Zephyros Farm and Garden is a diverse farm growing over 1000 different species of plants. Don has been on the board of VOGA, his local water board and is currently the president of the board of ORFR, the Organic Farming Research Foundation an organization he eagerly supports.  He will present on the work of OFRF and other research conducted at Zephyros.

Steve Lopez  has been with Colorado Dept. of Agriculture Fruit & Vegetable Inspection Service for 22 years and worked as a Field supervisor for 7 years. He now acts as Lead auditor for the Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices audit program.

Margret Richardson –  Salt Creek Hemp Company

John Rizza, CSU Extension/NRCS Small Acreage Management Specialist, has his B.S. in Natural Resources Management with a minor in Forestry  ISA Certified Arborist license  and M.S. in Forestry from the University of Tennessee.  After graduating, John spent a few years working in the inland northwest as a consulting forester helping private landowners manage their resources.  Before his current position, John was a Forester on the Colorado State Forest where we managed 72,000 acres with a multitude of interests in consideration.  His desire to help private landowners in Colorado to sustainably manage their land has brought me to Colorado State University Extension as the Small Acreage Management Specialist on the west slope during the last 5 years.

Brendon Rockey, a biotic farmer in Colorado, shows producers across the globe how to end their chemical dependencies. As a third generation potato grower he helped to form Soil Guys in order to increase the industry’s access to biological inputs and the methods he practices on his farm, which continue to improve its soil health and crops every season. His work within the industry has not gone unnoticed. Rockey Farms was awarded the 2014 National Potato Council Environmental Stewardship Award.

Dr. Andrew Smith recently joined Rodale Institute as the Director of their new Vegetable Systems Trial (VST). He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Agronomy and Crop Science, Master’s Degree in Entomology, and recently, a Ph.D in Molecular Ecology. Andrew has also studied Integrated Pest Management in Guatemala with the Peace Corps as well as managed a fruit and vegetable farm for more than nine years. Rodale Institute’s new VST is a side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional vegetable production systems. As Director of VST, Andrew oversees the project, measuring soil quality, economic profit, insect damage and weed tolerance, and nutritional quality (quantity of nutrients and other components) in organic versus conventional vegetables.

Amy Griner Stafford is the Organic Program Manager for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, where she is responsible for ensuring compliance with federal regulations for crops, food and feed products labeled as organic. She has worked in the organic certification industry since 1999. Before working for the Colorado Department of Agriculture, she has worked as a compliance officer, an inspector, an educator and speaker, and a general go-to person, all in the organic certification arena.  She has inspected farms and food processors in 26 states and 5 countries, and has worked with 8 different organic certification agencies.

Dawn Thilmany McFadden is a Professor of Agribusiness and Agribusiness Extension Economist with Colorado State University, serving in that role since 1997, and specializes in analyzing markets, consumer behavior  and economic development related to local, organic and other value-added food market segments.  She is on the leadership team of the CSU Extension Food Systems work team and Chairs the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council.   In addition, she serves on the USDA Secretary’s Advisory Board on Agricultural Research, Education, Extension and Economics and collaborates with several USDA agencies on research and outreach projects.

Harrison Topp works as the lead community organizer and co-op developer for the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.  He and his staff assist local groups to protect their water, soil, and natural resources; represent the needs of agriculture on a local and state level; and create sustainable economic opportunities.  Harrison is also the manager of Topp Fruits, an organic orchard in Paonia, Colorado.

Larry Traubel has over 30 years of formal education, continuing study, and experience in agricultural business. From being responsible for planting and managing a 550 acre orchard of apples to working the packing side of the business Larry has discovered a love of helping growers be successful by sharing his knowledge and experience. Since 2006, Larry has owned and operated Cropworx a local business supplying chemicals, seed and fertilizer to growers on the West Slope.  Larry strives to keep himself and his team on the leading edge of current agricultural methodologies, processes and technologies.

Jason Ullman, Assistant Division Engineer, Water Division 4, will be presenting at Friday’s Water Boot Camp.

Maureen West, Industrial Hemp Program Manager at the Colorado Department of Agriculture.  Maureen oversees day-to-day operations of the program. Prior to joining the CDA, Maureen served as an assistant attorney general at the Colorado Office of the Attorney General  where she represented numerous regulatory programs.  Maureen also is an adjunct professor at the University of Denver where she teaches Public Policy and the Legislative Process.

Doug Wiley is a fourth generation Colorado farmer, who was born and raised on a dairy farm near Boone, Colorado. In 1983, he earned a degree in Agronomy from Colorado State University. He has farmed organically for over 25 years. He and his wife Kim currently produce grass-finished beef, pastured pork, pastured hen eggs, raw milk, and organic produce. He also does farm advisory work and has been developing farming techniques that are sustainable in Colorado’s arid, brittle environment.

Daphne Yannakakis is an organic flower and vegetable farmer in Paonia Co, at Zephyros Farm and Garden.  She breathes life into over 1000 different species of plants.  Daphne has a long history of perennial agriculture/nurseries including work on and 4 generation German nursery Arends Maubach, KEW Royal Botanic Garden and many other nurseries of all different sizes.  She will present on the different grants conducted at Zephyros.