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, sweet corn, pinto bean, field corn and winter wheat. 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.

Amy Kunugi

Amy Kunugi

Vice President, Board Member, Grower

Amy Kunugi is the General Manager of Southern Colorado Farms, in Center, CO. The farm produces iceberg lettuce, Romaine lettuce, spinach, organic carrots, organic kale, organic spinach, organic broccoli, organic baby leaf, wheat, and dairy hay, on 2,400 acres.

Amy was born in Maryland, received a B.S. in Plant Science from Cornell University, and served three years in the U. S. Peace Corps in Guatemala and Bolivia. Amy’s husband and sons raise potatoes, malt barley, and dairy hay on their family farm.

Bruce Talbott

Bruce Talbott

Secretary, 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.

Reid Fishering

Reid Fishering

Treasurer, Board Member, Grower

Reid Fishering works for Mountain Quality Marketing LLC, located in Montrose.  He works on both operations and sales for the family run business.

Mountain Quality Marketing LLC is a harvesting, sales and logistical company that focuses on Olathe Sweet Corn. The Fishering Family has been in Montrose since the early 80’s, and has grown a wide variety of vegetables throughout the years ranging from broccoli, cauliflower,  onions, raspberries and hops.

Glenn Hirakata

Glenn Hirakata

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.

Jason Condon

Jason Condon

Board Member, Grower

Jason Condon and his wife Natalie own and operate Isabelle Farm in Lafayette, Colorado. Together they raise 120 acres of USDA Certified Organic produce and distribute their produce both retail and wholesale. In addition to growing produce, they also operate an on-farm farm store, as well as a 350-member CSA.

Jason Condon was born and raised on a family farm in Boulder, Colorado. His family roots reach back in Boulder County to 1859, when his family first settled at the mouth of Eldorado Canyon. Jason grew up farming on a conventional hay, wheat and cattle farm near the family homestead. In his early-twenties, he served for five years as a Seabee in United States Navy. After the service, he spent four years career in construction management, and then returned to farming. Isabelle Farm grows a large variety of produce, from leafy greens, brassicas and roots to melons and winter squash.

Dominic Disanti

Dominic Disanti

Board Member, Grower

Dominic is a fifth generation farmer with family farming roots dating back to 1890. He attended Colorado State University and received a B.S. in Soil and Crop Science and Agricultural Business before returning to production in 2009.

Dominic works alongside his family to operate DiSanti Farms in Pueblo, CO. The operation produces over two dozen types of crops with the leading commodities being Pueblo Chile, Green Onion, and Pumpkins. Their operation has an on farm stand and services wholesalers and distributors throughout the state.

Roger Mix

Roger Mix

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.
Larry Duell

Larry Duell

Board Member, Allied

Larry Duell is a vegetable seed salesman/consultant for Gowan Seed in Colorado and New Mexico .  Larry has 40 years of Agronomy experience providing cutting edge information in all area of vegetable crop production including, seed sales, chemical and seed application, technology, crop & soil evaluation, disease identification and control, as well as partnering with suppliers with new product development.
Marley Hodgson and Dan Long

Marley Hodgson and Dan Long

Board Member, Allied

Marley Hodgson and business partner Dan Long founded Colorado-based Mad Greens – Eat Better in 2004. They were intent on addressing the lack of fresh, fast and healthy fare available to the average American consumer. In 2015, salad restaurants and consumer demand for them are moving into the mainstream, but back in 2004, MAD Greens was one of the pioneers of the counter-serve salad concept.

MAD Greens is committed to helping guests ‘Eat Better’, and this means sourcing local ingredients straight from Colorado farms, bakeries, and dairies. MAD Greens also runs its own farm to grow much of its tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, baby greens and various other veggies in season. Eating better is also about preparing everything in-house (for example, all MAD Greens’ dressings are made by hand each morning) and making things from scratch because that’s the way food should be made.

After a successful career as an equities trader on Wall Street, Dan attended The Institute of Culinary Education, one of the leading culinary schools in the country.  He subsequently apprenticed at Veritas, one of New York’s premier 3-star restaurants and perennial Zagat favorite and was sous-chef/steward at ONE C.P.S., located in New York’s Plaza Hotel and part of the world renowned Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group.

Through MAD Greens, Dan has brought his knowledge and love of fine food to every day eating. Today he heads up culinary and R&D as MAD Greens continues its explosive growth.

Marilyn Bay Wentz

Marilyn Bay Wentz

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.

She and her family reside on the Eastern Plains just east of the Denver Metro Area, where they operate a freezer lamb business. Marilyn is the published author of two books (Prairie Grace, 2013 and All We Like Sheep, Lessons from the Sheepfold, 2015) and 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