Second conference, anniversary marks milestone for Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association | TheFencePost.com
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Second conference, anniversary marks milestone for Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association

Robert Sakata, the president of the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, welcomes the crowd of about 300 to the association's annual conference at the Renaissance Hotel at Stapleton in Denver. Sakata wore his Denver Broncos gear to not only celebrate the recent Super Bowl win, but to symbolize how important teamwork can be for groups like the association.
Nikki Work/nwork@greeleytribune.com |

New grants for fruit and vegetable growers announced at conference

At the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association Annual Conference, the Colorado Department of Agriculture announced new grants available to specialty crop growers under the Specialty Crops Block Grant Program. About $550,000 will be available for this year’s program.

The state ag department defines specialty crops as fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and nursery crops. According to a release from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, producers, organizations and associations, like state and educational groups, are all eligible to apply. Grants must impact the specialty crop industry at large and can’t be used just to further one business.

The proposal period ends at 5 p.m. April 15. For more information or to apply, click here or call (303) 869-9137.

The Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association Annual Conference featured lots of orange and blue, from carrots and water to the Denver Broncos.

The conference at the Renaissance Hotel at Stapleton in Denver kicked off Feb. 17 with association president Robert Sakata taking the stage in an orange wig and Peyton Manning jersey. The Brighton man gestured to his slideshow and around the room with a foam finger.

The get-up had a purpose, though, other than just Sakata’s love for his home team. Though the association has only been around for two years, it was able to run a series of ads on KOA radio during Broncos games, including one right before kick-off at the Super Bowl. Sakata joked that he thinks the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association helped the Broncos win. He wore the orange and blue to show the audience about 300 that great things can happen when you work as a team.

The Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association was founded as the result of teamwork from growers and board members, and it’s been able to succeed because of that as well. Making it to a second conference was a big victory, if not quite the Super Bowl. The conference showed the organization was still going — and growing — strong.

“This outfit recognized a problem that they had — they recognized that they needed an organization to represent them. (CFVGA) has done something that most people can’t do.”

Last February, at the association’s first conference, Don Brown spoke at the conference; it was his first public speaking event as Colorado commissioner of agriculture.

When he took the stage this year, he told everyone in the room to pat themselves on the back.

“This outfit recognized a problem that they had — they recognized that they needed an organization to represent them,” he said. “(CFVGA) has done something that most people can’t do.”

A poll of attendees, done by clickers, showed people came to the conference from all over the state, with the largest portion coming from northern Colorado. More than half this year’s attendees were new to the event.

This diversity and growth is a big deal to the organization, Sakata said, since about 2 percent of the state works in agriculture, and an even smaller number works in produce.

“Fruit and vegetable growers are just a fraction of (ag),” Sakata said. “We’re a minority of minorities.” ❖




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