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

Santiago Barajas and his family are owner operators of a 20 acre fruit orchard in Eckert, CO., where they grow peaches, apples, cherries, and plums. Santiago migrated to the United States from Mexico when he was 19 years and started working as a farmworker picking fruit and pruning trees at at a local orchard. After many years of hard work, dedication, and supportive orchard owners, he now owns his own home and orchard.

Kathryn Bedell, DVM, is self-employed in livestock production and local meat sales.  Kathryn moved on to Roan Creek Ranch in 1999.  She started selling grass fed beef in 2004, added sheep to the ranch in 2007, added pork to the product line in 2009 and opened Roan Creek Ranch Grocery in 2014. Kathryn has a BA in Biology from Mount Holyoke College, a MA in Biology (specializing in Animal Behavior), and a DVM.  Kathryn’s latest projects include steps toward a regional animal slaughter and fabrication facility and a local food distribution network.

Jenny Beiermann is an Agriculture and Business Management Economist with CSU Ext. She received her B.S. degree in Agricultural Business and her M.S. in Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wyoming.  Prior to joining CSU Extension in 2016, she worked in the livestock production industry, as well as with a leading Ag tech company. Her expertise and professional interests include farm management economics, business management, production economics and enterprise budgeting and strategic financial planning.

Hunter Buffington, Executive Director of the Colorado Hemp Industries Association, will be sharing her expertise in Hemp a Regional Update & Lessons Learned

Kyle Clark of Natural Flourish Farm focuses his production on aquaponics.  He studied landscape horticulture at Auburn University and ever since has been cultivating a fascination with greenhouse production techniques.

Cara Fraver is the Business Services Director at the National Young Farmers Coalition where she works to help farmers and ranchers demystify state and federal programs that impact and benefit their farms. Before joining the NYFC team, Cara owned and managed a diversified vegetable farm with her husband in upstate New York. Through work with Cornell Cooperative Extension, Just Food in NYC, and the New York State Berry Growers Association, she’s connected farmers with resources and education to improve their businesses for more than 15 years.

Forest Frost has been a beekeeper since 1979 and for the past 4 years in the Montrose area. He works for the National Parks Service and has been instrumental in starting the recently formed Uncompahgre Bee Keepers Group.

Daniel Fullmer is the owner and operator of Tierra Vida Farm.  After years spent working on other farms, building greenhouses, and learning from some great farmers in the West, Tierra Vida Farm started in 2015.  He is passionate about integrated systems, making the connections between the many parts, and working with those connections to improve quality and efficiency.

Hana Fullmer is Tierra Vida Farm’s resident functional nutritionist, yoga instructor, and reiki master. Motivated by her own experience with chronic illness, she believes deeply in our mantra … healthy soil, healthy food, healthy people. Hana began working on the farm full-time during the 2017 season. In addition to the ins and outs of daily farming, Hana enjoys milking goats, writing our weekly CSA newsletter, and teaching several cooking classes throughout the growing season.  Prior to focusing on nutrition and farming Hana had several professional jobs in the client services and marketing arena.

Kirk Gadzia has over 30 years’ experience teaching the concepts of holistic management and has taught over 500 training sessions in the US and internationally. The focus of his work is a holistic approach to agriculture and life where people, land, animals, finances and other resources are considered in the planning and managing the operation.  Kirk has extensive consulting experience with many agricultural operations in the US and internationally. Kirk is co-author of the important National Academy of Sciences book: Rangeland Health. He holds a BS degree in Wildlife Biology and an MS in Range Science. Kirk works directly with producers to achieve profitability in their operations.

Dr. Temple Grandin, a Colorado State University professor of animal sciences and spokesperson for autism, is one of 10 women in 2017 to be named to the National Women’s Hall of Fame. Grandin has been a professor of animal sciences for more than 20 years, and her contributions to the livestock industry include methods of humane slaughter that are now industry standard. Using her unique window into the minds of animals, she has developed corrals for cattle that improve their quality of life by reducing stress.

Dan Hobbs is the lead cooperative specialist with the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union Cooperative and Economic Development Center. He has over twenty years experience in agricultural and rural development and owns and operates a 30 acre organic seed and vegetable farm in Pueblo County Colorado.

Dan James of the James Ranch in Durango has been grazing and milking cows and handcrafting farmstead cheeses in the Animas Valley for 15 years.  Dan’s love for this land, and an idea that a 100% grass-based dairy and cheese making operation was their future he and his wife Becca established James Ranch Artisan Cheese.

Beth LaShell served as an instructor at Fort Lewis in the Agriculture and Biology Department for 17 years teaching a variety of agricultural-based courses including Animal Science, Agricultural Marketing, and Community Based Agriculture. Beth became the Coordinator of the Old Fort at Hesperus in 2010 and conducts research projects on the 6,300 acre property.  In Fall, 2015, she was named a Regional Convener for the National Farm Incubator Training Initiative to provide the Southwest region with information on developing farm incubator programs.

Emiliano Lopez, Soil Scientist with the USDA-NRCS, was born and raised in Scottsbluff, NE where he worked as a farm and ranch hand from the age of 5 until 21 years of age.  After completing a B.S. degree in Agroecology from the University of Wyoming in 2009 he started to work for the USDA-NRCS on the Wyoming Soil Survey. He now lives in Delta where he continues his work for the USDA-NRCS.

John Miller was born and raised in Delta County and began irrigating shortly after he learned to walk. He has since learned how to operate, maintain and monitor a variety of different types of irrigation systems and their associated appurtenances.   As the Irrigation Water Management Specialist for the Delta Conservation District, John educates the public about new agricultural technologies and how they integrate with our historical practices.

F. Isaac Muñoz is a Small Acreage Management Extension Agent with Colorado State University Extension. He conducts Extension education programs for small acreage landowners in the Tri-River Area on topics pertaining to production, marketing, and management of small scale agricultural enterprises, including: small scale farming, direct marketing, urban horticulture, organic farming, pasture establishment and renovation, and small scale agricultural enterprise development.

Patrick O’Neill has worked with farmers and ranchers for over 15 years in advising on soil health building.  He has extensive experience with cover crop mix formulation and utilization within Colorado. Patrick has degrees in crop science and soil science and continues researching methods of growing healthier soils while producing highly nutritive foods.

Annalisa Pearson, Program Manager,  Business Incubator Center, Grand Junction

Dr. Noa Roman-Muniz is an Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Sciences and their Extension Dairy Specialist. Her research focuses on animal health and well-being, dairy worker training, labor management, and human safety and health on livestock operations. Roman-Muniz completed a pre-veterinary program at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez in 1997. She earned her D.V.M. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 2001 and her M.S. in Clinical Sciences from CSU in 2004.

Dan Scinto, Business Loan Fund Director, Region 10 LEAP, has over 25 years of lending and management experience. He has worked with many types of business to help them succeed. As the Director of the Region 10 Business loan fund he understands and has access to various sources of capital.

John Sheridan and his wife are the owners and operators of Bees In The Trees, a western slope beekeeping operation.  John has over 20 years experience managing honeybees in Colorado to produce local honey and in pollination, both in Colorado and for California almonds.

Deana Sheriff is the Economic Recovery Coordinator for West End Economic Development Corporation working under contract through Region 10 League for Economic Assistance.. Deana’s task is to help the region diversify the economy, and not only survive the impact of the closures and loss of high-paying jobs, but to come out the other side a stronger and more resilient community. Deana has worked in economic development for nearly 25 years, working in both metropolitan and rural settings. Deana’s passion for rural communities has helped to craft unique solutions that work for isolated regions. She particularly enjoys helping small businesses grow and prosper.

Dr. Meredith Shrader is a graduate from Virginia Tech where she received 3 degrees in entomology. She has worked on several research farms focused on integrated pest management in fruit trees, wine grapes and vegetable and row crops. She is now a CSU Extension Tri-River Area Entomologist and is passionate about her work implementing integrated pest management strategies in all agricultural arenas.

Mike Steffen  USDA/Farm Service Agency District Director will be joining the Farm Worker to Ag Entrepreneur discussion.

Frank Stonaker got his start as an organic market farmer and greenhouse grower back in the early 1980s – his interest in alternative pest management and production systems lead to graduate studies in biocontrol and horticulture. After working as a consultant in biocontrol and organic farm management Frank returned to CSU to initiate their specialty crops program and  taught courses in vegetable production and greenhouse management. He and his partner Beth are now growing cherries, peaches and apples at Osito Orchard near Hotchkiss, CO. Frank recently accepted the position of Research Scientist and Station Manager at CSU’s Western Colorado Research Center near Hotchkiss where he is coordinating the restart of the research center.

Martha Sullins is an Ag Business Management Specialist with Colorado State University Extension, where her areas of emphasis in applied research and outreach include smaller-scale and specialty livestock and crop production businesses, agritourism, local foods, farm transition, on-farm food safety and risk management. She develops and teaches small business management classes, evaluates classroom and field-based educational programs targeted at beginning farmers and ranchers, and develops tools for ag and food producers navigating food safety and business regulations, as well as those starting value-added agricultural enterprises.

Julie Sullivan and her husband George Whitten own and manage their certified organic, cow/calf-to-finish cattle ranch in the San Luis Valley. She is the founding mentor of the Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Program and a former university professor of Environmental Studies and Environmental Education. Recently, she served on the committee creating the National Agrarian Learning Network agrarian apprenticeship toolkit of best practices, labor issues, curriculum and more. She is fiercely dedicated to the next generation of agrarians, fully functioning ecosystems and creative solutions to the interaction of humans with their planet.

Bruce Talbott is a fifth generation fruit grower in the Palisade area of Mesa County.  Within the family organization, he is responsible for all vineyard and orchard operations.  Currently production is made up of about 65% peaches, 30% wine grapes with most of the remainder being pears and cherries. The farm includes about 450 acres on owned and leased farm ground which is conventionally farmed with sprinkler, furrow and drip irrigation.

Harrison Topp works as the Membership Director 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.

Seth Urbanowitz is an area agronomist for Colorado State University.  He has experience as an agronomist for a farmers’ cooperative in Oregon and with giving produce safety workshops and trainings throughout the United States.

Martin Valdez is a Labor & Employment Specialist with the Colorado Workforce Center working out of the Delta and Montrose County area. He has extensive experience working with agricultural workers and producers in farm labor issues. For the past couple of years he has been planning the start of a small scale hemp operation in Delta County. He will be sharing the key steps he has taken to be successful in his ag project.

George Whitten was born into ranching in Saguache, Colorado. The Whitten family established a sheep, cattle and farming operation in the San Juan Mountains of the San Luis Valley in 1897. George is the third generation to lead this ranch. He specializes in grass finishing and marketing, genetics for grass finishing, soil health and restorative ranching practices. George has been applying Holistic Management principles to his ranch for 32 years.  He served on the Board of Directors of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District for over 25 years. George and his wife Julie are the founding mentors of the Quivira Coalition New Agrarian Ranch apprentice program and just graduated their 12th apprentice.  George believes more and more, as he gets older, in finding whole solutions to whole problems.

Please be advised that topics and speakers are subject to change.  Please check back for more details.