Governor Jared Polis has declared August “Colorado Proud Month” in honor of the Colorado Department of Agriculture local-product program’s twentieth anniversary. Colorado Proud got its start in 1999, long before the local food movement caught fire (and some time after the Always Buy Colorado campaign disappeared into history). Initially, Colorado Proud’s membership consisted of 65 companies selling state-grown and -made products; today it has more than 2,700 members, including growers, food manufacturers, restaurants, ranchers and retailers.
Wendy White, marketing specialist for the ag department, has been with Colorado Proud from the beginning. “I don’t know where the time went,” she says. “We’ve seen such a shift. When Colorado Proud started, I was knocking on doors and encouraging them to participate...we were local before it was hip to be local.” Now, though, it’s not only hip, but consumers are increasingly interested in knowing more about the products they’re buying and the practices of the ranches and farms that produce them.
New businesses are jumping in all the time, too. “We’ve seen a lot of growth in microgreens,” says White. “Lavender we’re really starting to see blossom — pun intended. Hops and hemp, too. Even manufactured food products such as salsas and sauces.”
“Colorado Proud is a national leader in championing the diverse agricultural products grown, raised or processed in our state,” says new Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg, who lists three major goals for her department: supporting the next generation of farmers and ranchers; scaling up investment in high-value agriculture and diversifying market opportunities; and promising and incentivizing soil, water and climate stewardship.
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To mark its anniversary, Colorado Proud not only got that Polis proclamation, but replaced its purple-and-gold sunrise logo with one that more closely resembles the Colorado flag (not to mention Polis’s new state logo). It’s also adopted a new outreach theme, “The Next Generation of Ag,” and will be hosting an agricultural community tour around the state this month, including stops at the Union Station Farmers' Market on Saturday, August 3; the South Pearl Street Farmers' Market on Sunday, August 4; and the Broomfield Farmers' Market on Tuesday, August 6.
But first, Greenberg will be touting Colorado Proud at a free bash at History Colorado Center, 1200 Broadway, on August 1. Greenberg will speak at about 10 a.m.; Colorado Proud will host a tent from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. full of state-produced products and information about the agriculture industry.
It's part of an all-day celebration of Colorado's 143rd birthday; find out more at historycolorado.org.