Our Board Members

Chuck Hanagan

President, Grower

Born and raised on a family farm in the Arkansas Valley, Chuck worked for U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency in Colorado for 34 years and participated in developing national USDA implementation policy for the 2014 & 2018 farm bills.  Chuck had been active in the farm operation and vegetable marketing until 2019 when he left USDA and began farming full time. 

Chuck was involved during the establishment of the Rocky Ford Growers Association and wrote the GAP plan for Hanagan Farms as well as assisting other area farms in establishing GAP plans.  Chuck continues to work with his brother and father in expanding markets and working towards opportunities in agriculture for the family’s future generations.  

Joe Petrocco

Vice President, Grower

Joe Petrocco has farmed his entire life but only with a full-time salary beginning in 1996. Petrocco Farms was started by his Italian-immigrant great grandmother and continues to be worked by multiple generations as they raise a wide variety of vegetables, both organic and conventional. Joe started the farm’s organic production.

He has a bachelor’s degree in botany and a minor in Spanish from Metro State College. Petrocco Farms has hosted many consumers and members of the news media to its operation. Joe has been a member of CFVGA’s Labor Committee since its inception and became chair of the committee several years ago. He also served on the American Pride Co-op Board of Directors. Joe is married and has four children, two in college, one in high school and one in junior high.

Nick Heitkemper

Secretary, Allied Member

Nick Heitkemper is a senior relationship manager with Rabo Agrifinance, part of the Rabobank Group.  He has a varied background in financing row crop, permanent planting, dairy, feedlot, cattle ranching, and agribusiness operations in the Western United States.  He provides custom tailored financial products covering traditional lending, merchant services, international trade and commodity hedging. 

Through Nick’s professional work he most enjoys being a trusted advisor and consultant to his clients, providing creative financial solutions for their businesses.  He is proud to work for Rabobank Group due to their global reach and ability to draw experience and connect farmers throughout the United States and over six different continents.

Beth LaShell

Treasurer, Partner Member

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.

Cade Kunugi

Board Member, Grower

A fourth generation Colorado farmer, Cade Kunugi partners with his father and uncle to produce a variety of crops, including potatoes, barley and canola, and to manage operations of their family farm. He works to overcome the hardships that exist in the agricultural industry starting at a local level, and understands the importance of knowledgeable stewardship in Colorado agriculture, which will allow future generations the opportunity to farm.

Cade has participated in Colorado collegiate Farm Bureau debates over agricultural issues and received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural business from Adams State University. He recently completed the Colorado Ag Leadership Program.

Alisha Knapp

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.

Debbie Dees

Board Member, Grower

Debbie’s interest in all types of plants started at an early age while growing up on a commercial tomato farm and has continued to be part of her life. Combining her degree in business with a deep appreciation for agriculture has paved the way to an interesting field of work. In recent years, Debbie took on the role of Chief Operations Officer of Leroux Creek Foods, where she oversaw the production of applesauce and other processed fruit for major corpora8ons. Her journey continues as the sales and marketing director for Big B’s Juices, a position she enjoyed so much that her commitment to the team continues, and she does what she can to help further sales. Simultaneously, Debbie has been involved in business operations for the Honeycrisp Orchard, gaining insight into both the orchard environment, and the daily challenges faced by growers.

Presently, Debbie works as the General and Sales Manager for Rogers Mesa Fruit which packs fruit for local growers. This challenging position aligns her skills and passion for the industry, making it a perfect fit! Outside of her professional life, Debbie enjoys spending her time outdoors, traveling and with her family.

Ewell Culbertson

Board Member, Grower

Ewell graduated from Appalachian State University in 1981 with a business degree and moved to Colorado. For 10 years Ewell built a successful Manufacturer’s Rep business selling outdoor recreation products to retail stores in the Rocky Mountain Region. In the mid 90’s Ewell worked for Horizon Organic Dairy Inc. as Eastern USA Sales Manager selling organic dairy products in the wholesale grocery market place. In 1996 Ewell and his wife, Lauren, purchased 40 acres in Boulder County and created Pachamama Organic Farm selling organic mixed vegetables direct to consumers via farmers markets and a 150 member CSA program. In 2012 Ewell and Lauren purchased an 84 acre organic tree fruit orchard located in the Dominguez Canyon area of Delta County and named it Fortunate Fruit, Inc. Their family operated operation provides certified organic peaches, nectarines, cherries, apricots, pears, apples, plums and watermelons to the grocery wholesale trade throughout Colorado and beyond.

Emily King

Board Member, Grower

Emily King has dedicated her career to the produce industry and currently oversees Compliance and Marketing at Fagerberg Produce. You can find her in the onion fields during the growing season and at the packinghouse post-harvest!

 

Over the past several years, she has played various roles within CFVGA, including chairing the Labor Committee and leading the CFVGA Labor Conference subcommittee in 2023. Emily also serves as the Agricultural Employer Representative board member for the State’s Workers Compensation company, demonstrating her commitment to worker safety and regulatory compliance.

When not engaged in farm-related activities, Emily enjoys spending time in the garden and chasing after her two- and three-year-old daughters. As a Northern Colorado grower member, she is eager to continue her service to CFVGA and is seeking the opportunity to join the board. Emily’s passion for the industry and her extensive experience make her an ideal candidate for the role.

Martin Diaz

Board Member, Grower

Martín Diaz is a potato farmer with on his family farm, Martinez Farms and Eagle Produce in the San Luis Valley of Colorado.  His role on the farm is to manage and supervise the tissue culture lab and mini tuber nursery in producing certified seed potatoes. He also works in human resources for the operation. He graduated from Adams State University in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, finance, and accounting. 

Colleen Daszkiewicz

Board Member, Allied

Colleen Daszkiewicz is the Perishable Food Sourcing Lead at Food Bank of the Rockies.. She loves working with growers and food hubs around the state to source and purchase a variety of fresh produce to distribute to neighbors in need around the state and learn about Colorado agriculture. Her favorite thing about agriculture is the passion and expertise of everyone involved in the food system, from producers to distributors to those in sales. She has been a member of the CFVGA Nutrition and Health Subcommittee for 2 years, and has been co-chair for the last 1 ½ years, working with Roger Mix and the committee to create social media posts around Colorado produce. Colleen would love the opportunity to deepen her involvement in CFVGA as a member of the board and help support the ag community.

Marilyn Bay Drake

Executive Director

Marilyn Bay Drake has served as executive director to the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association on a contract basis since August 2015. Her work in management of the association includes membership & sponsorship, conference planning, writing news releases & responding to media inquiries, Colorado produce promotion through social & traditional media channels, grant implementation, CFVGA Board support, and administrative work. Marilyn has worked with and for agricultural associations for nearly three decades. She has a bachelor’s degree in print journalism-emphasis in marketing and a minor in Spanish. She grew up on a family farm and continues to be tangentially involved in the operation. She is a published author, including two historical fiction titles.

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

Board Member, Partner

Adrian Card works with Colorado State University Extension as State Specialist in Specialty Crops.  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 

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