Our Board Members

 
Robert Sakata

Robert Sakata

President, Board Member, Grower

 

Robert is a Colorado native and now owns Sakata Farms which was started in 1945 by his father. The operation has grown to 2500 acres growing fresh market cabbage, dry bulb onions, pinto bean, field corn, winter wheat, and until 2018, sweet corn. Robert served for 15 years on the state of Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission appointed by three different governors. He also served as the Adams County Farm Bureau president and on the Adams County Open Space Advisory Committee. Currently he is on two local ditch boards, serves as the agricultural representative on the metro roundtable, is a member of the Colorado Ag Water Alliance and on the Board of Directors of the Colorado Water Congress.

After graduating Brighton High School Robert attended the University of Colorado Boulder and worked for AmGen in their molecular biology research department. Returning to the farm in 1989, Robert has worked to encourage the shrinking farm community to become more involved in the many issues they face.

Roger Mix

Roger Mix

Vice President, Board Member, Grower

 
Roger Mix is a Colorado native and operates Mix farms with his wife and sons. The operation produces Certified potato seed, Fresh market potatoes, Coors malt barley and Green manure crops on 750 acres. He is a third generation farmer and graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Agronomy. He is active in the potato industry on various potato committees and served as National Potato Council president in 2010.
Glenn Hirakata

Glenn Hirakata

Secretary, Board Member, Grower

 
Glenn was born and raised in Rocky Ford, Colo., a small farming community in the Arkansas Valley. After graduating Colorado State University with a degree in agriculture he returned to the family farm in 1986. He has served on various boards and committees, including FSA County Committee, Catlin Augmentation Association and Rocky Ford Growers Cooperative. Hirakata Farms grows and ships Rocky Ford Cataloupe, watermelon, honeydew and pumpkins. They also raise some grain crops, which include field corn and winter wheat. As co-owner, Glenn understands the challenges in the fruit and vegetable industry but finds it to be a very rewarding place to work.
Alisha Knapp

Alisha Knapp

Treasurer, Board Member, Grower

Alisha Knapp was born and raised on the family farm in Rocky Ford, Colo. After graduating from the University of Denver with her bachelor’s of science degree in finance and a master’s of science in finance, she returned to Rocky Ford. She is a fifth-generation farmer, currently a part of operations at Knapp Farms.

Alisha manages the farm market and implements the food safety policies. Knapp Farms grows a large variety of fruits and vegetables and sells them at the farm’s roadside stand. They also supply regional grocers with watermelon, cantaloupe, specialty melons, onions, and pumpkins. In addition to farm duties Alisha serves on the Rocky Ford Arts Commission Board.

David Harold
Board Member, Grower

David Harold, Tuxedo Corn Co., grew up in Olathe, before leaving during high school and to attend college. During summers, he returned to work on the family farm. His opportunities to study in other regions of the United States and in other countries, provided him with great perspective and appreciation for many different cultures.

In 2007, he decided to join the family farm full-time, become a farmer himself and purchase ground. He now works with his father managing the farming operation, which includes 700 acres of row crops and a 200 head cow/calf operation. Besides growing crops, the Harolds have turned their focus to improving soil health through reduced tillage, cover cropping, controlled animal integration into the farming system and putting 350 acres in permanent subsurface drip irrigation. Their main vegetable crops are onions, squash, sweet corn, grown in rotation with grain corn, pasture and pinto beans. Approximately 200 acres are certified organic. They also coordinate planting, growing, harvest and sales of 1,500 acres of “Olathe Sweet” sweet corn.

David has served on the Gunnison Basin Roundtable, is on the advisory committee for the CSU organic research station at Rodgers Mesa near Hotchkiss. He also has put a lot of effort into understanding and protecting agricultural water with “No Chico Brush”, an informal grower-led group looking to collaborate on water projects/discussion with municipal, industrial, and environmental groups to make sure that Chico Brush doesn’t become the next crop in the the Uncompahgre Valley.

In the very small amount of free time he has, David enjoys spending it with his wife and two boys.

Bruce Talbott

Bruce Talbott

Board Member, Grower

 

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.  Our currently production is made up of about 65% peaches, 30% wine grapes with most of the remainder being pears. The farm includes about 450 acres on owned and leased farm ground.  We also pack our own fruit as well as for others and process apple cider sold under multiple labels or in bulk for repackaging or fermentation.

Production is all conventional with mostly sprinkler irrigation along with some drip and furrow.  Peaches are marketed through wholesale channels into Colorado’s historic marketing area being predominately the upper Midwest with some fruit staying in Colorado.  Wine grapes support the Colorado Craft Wine industry being sold to 25 or 30 different wineries.

David Asbury

David Asbury

Board Member, Grower

 

Dave grew up on a farm west of Longmont. He studied agriculture at Colorado State University, after which he began working in the wholesale produce business. He started his own operation with five acres on Highway 66, and the Rocky Mountain Pumpkin Ranch was born. The Pumpkin Ranch is now a local landmark with a seasonal produce market and an annual fall festival.Today, Dave farms more than 2,000 acres of combined county and private land under the Full Circle Farms label. His crops are all Certified Organic or transitional. He grows a variety of traditional Boulder County produce, but is most known for his outstanding chilies and bountiful fall squash.

Grant Mattive

Grant Mattive

Board Member, Grower

 
A few miles north of the Rio Grande River in Colorado’s San Luis Valley, Grant Mattive farms with five of his family members.  He grew up on the farm knowing he always wanted to eventually come back and farm with his family. After graduating from Sargent High School in 2003, Grant attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. He received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2008.  While in college he worked as an engineer/machinist for an agriculture research station, an equipment assembler, and as a natural gas pipeline engineer. After graduating Grant went to work as a Power Generation Engineer for General Electric. This job sent him from New York to California and places in between.

In August of 2009, Grant and LaRae married. They had discussed moving back to the farm to start a family for a while and decided to move to the farm in the spring of 2010. In September 2010 they were blessed with their first child, Lane. Two years later, Cason joined the family. Grant’s two boys have taken after their dad and can be found checking the moisture or driving tractors.

Grant is currently the president of the Colorado Certified Potato Growers Association and active in Colorado Farm Bureau, Sargent Youth Wrestling and is a 4-H woodworking leader. He has many hobbies that he likes to do whenever he can find time that include mountain biking, motorcycling, hiking, skiing, hunting, fishing, and woodworking. He is also a private pilot and loves checking the crops from above.

Harrison Topp

Harrison Topp

Board Member, Grower

Harrison Topp is the operator of Topp Fruits in Delta County, Colo., and the membership director for Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. He works with a diverse spectrum of farmers and ranchers in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, to build community-driven chapters and organize around local, state, and federal issues that impact agriculture.

Topp is passionate about two things – soil and helping develop grassroots leaders. He is a first-generation farmer, who is working hard to establish himself in the fruit growing industry of Paonia and Hotchkiss. A native of Colorado, he graduated from New York University in 2009 with a double major in film and television production and anthropology.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Catharine Soukup

Board Member, Allied

Catharine Soukup, marketing coordinator at American AgCredit, assists in the association’s public relations and marketing efforts across Colorado, Kansas and Nevada. This primarily includes cultivating strategic industry partnerships, coordinating the association’s tradeshow engagement, implementing advertising efforts through traditional media outlets and organizing customer appreciation events. Catharine has especially enjoyed becoming more involved with the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association and currently serves on the CFVGA Business Development Committee. Prior to joining the American AgCredit team in 2016, Catharine attended Colorado State University where she completed a bachelor’s degree in agribusiness and a master’s degree in public communication and technology. During her graduate work, Catharine’s research focus was centered on enhancing consumer messaging in the direct-to-consumer market. Catharine is confident that a career in agriculture means a lifetime of working with wonderful people. She is devoted to serving farmers and ranchers and is passionate about promoting the industry.

Dave Maynard

Dave Maynard

Board Member, Allied

Dave Maynard has been a vice president of FreshPack since 2002. Instrumental in developing high volume sales with local retailers and food service customers throughout Colorado, he has worked closely with Colorado Department of Agriculture to promote Colorado Proud.  He also served on the Colorado Farm to School Task Force, where he worked side by side with many Colorado growers to help make their products available to Colorado consumers.

Marilyn Bay Drake

Marilyn Bay Drake

Executive Director

Marilyn Bay Drake grew up on a crop and sheep farm in northern Weld County, not far from the land homesteaded by her great-great grandparents in the 1880s. Upon graduation from the University of Northern Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, she spent five years working in Taiwan, learning and teaching the fledgling discipline of public relations. Her employer, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising, was then the largest advertising agency in the world.

Following her stint with Saatchi & Saatchi, she applied her public relations and promotional skills for the benefit of agricultural organizations back in Colorado, including the U.S. Meat Export Federation, National Farmers Union and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. In 2008, she established her own writing, editing and public relations business, where she served a variety of agricultural organizations, including the National Bison Association, Western Sugar Cooperative and the American Grassfed Association.

In August 2015, Marilyn was thrilled to accept appointment as executive director for the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association. She looks forward to promoting and advocating for this exciting sector of the agricultural economy.

Marilyn has two grown daughters and lives in rural Eaton. She operates a freezer lamb business, is the published author of three books and a is a certified 4-H horse show judge and level rater. She is fluent in Spanish, speaks conversational Mandarin Chinese and does a decent job in English, as well.

Beth LaShell

Beth LaShell

Board Member, Partner

 

Beth LaShell is from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. After serving as an instructor 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. Her duties include day to day operations, coordinating Fort Lewis College and community uses and conducting research projects on the 6,300 acre property that is the site of the original Fort Lewis College.  Research projects include Analyzing Hops Varieties for High Altitude Production, the Old Fort Market Garden Incubator program which serves as an alternative entry point for new farmers, and providing small farmers with information about food safety, alternative direct marketing methods,  wholesale production and high tunnel production.

As the project director of the Old Fort Market Garden Incubator since 2010, she has developed infrastructure, educational programs and on-site management guidelines for the program.  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.

Mike Bartolo

Mike Bartolo

Board Member, Partner

 
Mike Bartolo is a native of the Arkansas River Valley, born and raised on a small farm east of Pueblo. He received his undergraduate and M.S degrees at Colorado State University. In 1990, he received his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota in Plant Physiology. For the past 24 years, he has been the Vegetable Crops Specialist at Colorado State University’s Arkansas Valley Research Center in Rocky Ford. In 2004, he also became manager of the Center. His primary responsibilities are research and outreach activities to support commercial vegetable crop production in the Arkansas Valley and other parts of the state. The major crops emphasized are onions, melons, and peppers. His research projects have been centered on different aspects of crop production including drip irrigation, plastic mulches, soil fertility, and pest management.
Adrian Card

Adrian Card

Board Member, Partner

 
Adrian Card works with Colorado State University Extension in Boulder County.  Adrian managed small, direct market vegetable farms in Larimer County, Colorado in the 90’s, taught vegetable crop production at CSU, and before accepting his current position in 2004, worked as student farm manager at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at North Carolina State University, managing 7 acres of mixed vegetables for CSA, produce stand, research and teaching.

Adrian is excited for the potential CFVGA has to strengthen fruit and vegetable production in Colorado and to enhance its emerging  partnership with CSU.  He is working actively with the Board to develop CFVGA through outreach and educational programming.   More bio at LinkedIn