Board of Directors
Alice M. Price is an attorney and mediator with over 40 years of experience leading and providing organizational development and conflict resolution services to a wide range of community non-profits and initiatives.
Alice has lived in the San Luis Valley for 35 years. She currently serves as Family Court Facilitator in the local courts helping families navigate and resolve disputes within the domestic relations and child protection systems.
She previously served for 15 years as the founding director of Center for Restorative Programs, a non-profit agency providing restorative justice options for youth in school, family and court settings.
Alice has a BA from Brown University and her JD degree from New York University.
He’s the GOAT!
Patrick Ortiz is Operations Director at San Luis Valley Great Outdoors and manages all operations, planning, and coordination of our SLV Great Outdoors Action Team (SLV GOATs), a locally based trail and restoration crew that works to build and maintain trail and recreation infrastructure in communities and public lands surrounding the San Luis Valley.
Prior to SLV GO!, Patrick has worked on and lead various types of trail projects for Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Southwest Conservation Corps in Salida, Saguaro National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park, and City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks.
He is a native of Alamosa, CO and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management; Physical Geography with a minor in Environmental Science from Adams State University.
In his current role, he also helps coordinate collaborative processes that work toward community improvement by promoting public land stewardship and increasing opportunities for outdoor recreation, trails, and healthy living.
Patrick enjoys exploring public lands throughout the West, fly fishing, mountain biking, snowboarding, and is learning to play the banjo.
Bridging World Views
Shirley Atencio has roots in the San Luis Valley that go back several generations. The Trujillo Homestead, a National Historic Monument near the Great Sand Dunes National Park, belonged to her great-grandparents and testifies to the founding contributions of early Hispanic families to farming and ranching in the settlement of the Valley.
At present, Shirley continues to work at the university as an advocate for bridge-building across world views and as Coordinator for the Office of Civic Engagement. She has served on a number of campus and community boards and committees over the years and enjoys being involved in anything that promotes community well-being.
Shirley and her husband raised five sons and now enjoy six grandchildren. The family has operated a small local food market in south Alamosa for twenty years which depends primarily on neighborhood support.
After full-time parenting and volunteering from home while her sons were young, Shirley worked at various jobs including teaching English Language Learners for the local school district, directing the music and liturgical ministries at Sacred Heart Church, and as lay Campus Minister at Adams State University where she has emphasized interfaith cooperation and social justice programming. A most rewarding part of that work has been developing student leadership around Alternative Break Experiences which have exposed students to people and places that have widened their understanding of the world and, in many instances, been life changing.
Shirley’ interests outside of family and work include taking long road trips to almost anywhere, reading biographies, listening to podcasts on interesting and weird subjects, lunch out with a sister or good friend, politics and public policy, and of course, dogs, cats and chickens.
Besides her long and continuing studies in the “University of Life”, Shirley holds a B.A. in Spanish from Adams State College along with various and sundry certifications.
She milks camels!
Owner of Mudita Camel Dairy; a diverse vegetable farm, fiber, and camel dairy in Conejos County.
Meghan contributes to the team and brings thoughtful new ideas to the organization.
Certified Public Accountant with many years of work in the agricultural and non-profit fields in Ohio. Tim is a new resident of the San Luis Valley excited to be near his beloved son Luke Yoder and family.
Yoder is a motorcycle and outdoor enthusiast as well as a lover of fresh local foods.
He cooks for hospital patients
Ben Valdez is a Valley native who graduated from Johnson and Wales in 2013 and worked along the front range and Denver in various hotels and restaurants for 6 years. During this time he held many different roles throughout the hospitality and food industry.
His passion for healthy food and family have brought him back home to contribute to the community he was raised in. Currently he works on his family’s farm helping raise grass-fed lamb and cattle as well as cooking for patients at the Conejos County Hospital.
Moving forward he would like to help educate members of the community on healthy cooking and teach about the benefits of diverse diets. He is also interested in helping farmers connect with local consumers to form bonds within our local area and is excited to serve on the LFC board.
Protector of the Rio
Emma lives in Alamosa and serves as the Coordinator for the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project, a local non-profit working to improve the health of the Rio Grande in the San Luis Valley.
Emma grew up on the prairies of Kansas and graduated from Bethel College (Kans.) with a BA in Biology. While at Bethel, Emma developed a strong passion for restoration ecology and sustainable agriculture, serving on the committee for the local Sand Creek Community Garden and working as a research assistant on Bethel’s Tallgrass Prairie Restoration Study.
Emma moved to the San Luis Valley in 2013 through Mennonite Volunteer Service and quickly fell in love with the landscape and vibrant community. Emma is excited to grow her involvement in the local agricultural community through serving on the LFC Board.
Social Justice Warrior
Liza is the founding director of the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition in rural southern Colorado. She has been a community organizer with a focus on social justice, wellness and prevention for many years.
Ms. Marron has a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling and a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish. Her skill set includes grant writing, government, visioning and strategic planning, non-profit management, finance, coalition building, economic development, education, fund raising, public speaking, and managing a budget.
Liza is an avid gardener, horsewoman and student of life.
Wilderness Guide & Humanitarian
Max grew up in Kansas City and Boulder, and has been playing in the San Luis Valley since he was a kid. With an undergraduate degree from Naropa University and dual graduate degrees from CU-Denver in Public Health and Urban/Regional Planning, he has worked on healthy community design and food system planning in Colorado, and humanitarian response in East Africa and the Middle East. Before all that, he spent years leading wilderness trips across the Rockies and abroad, and working as an EMT in a number of Denver and mountain hospitals.
He is skilled in writing, research methods, teambuilding, risk management, community organizing, bureaucracy navigation, and strategic planning.
Max is an avid cook and fermenter, and can be found hiking, skiing, climbing and mountain biking in the Cochetopa Hills.
Amity Vargas, Donor Engagement Manager
Environmental Education Devotee
Amity is a Colorado Springs native but spent many years on the west coast soaking up the beautiful,
beach sun. She has over fifteen years of experience working within the nonprofit realm with a focus on
environmental and social impact missions. Her work has included development, programming, and
operations. Amity has led programs that provided watershed protection of the South Platte in the SouthPark National Heritage Area and started the first Farm to School program in Park County. She has taught
environmental education to adults and students from Pre-K through the twelfth grades writing both
standards-based and experienced-based curriculum with an emphasis on mindfulness and a growth
mindset. In the Front Range Amity has worked with a wide-variety of schools and organizations teaching
the importance of environmental literacy through a program she started called TREES – Teaching
Responsible Environmental Education Skills. Through this program she was able to start a recycling
program within an elementary school in the Colorado Springs area, the first of its kind within that school
district. Currently Amity is working towards becoming an Herbalist and is
also completing her portfolio to become a certified Environmental Educator.
Amity loves immersing herself in nature with her family. They camp, hike, bike, snowshoe, raft and
volunteer together to keep trails clean. She enjoys gardening, cooking, reading, and writing. She plays
the flute and is learning the guitar and melodica. Amity is a nomad at heart and is dedicated to being a
“All the world is my school, and all humanity is my teacher.”
― George Whitman
Rio Grande Farm Park
El Jefe de Verduras
Jesus is from Charcas, S.L.P. Mexico. He grew up in a farming family in Mexico, and he is the third of twelve: eight brothers and three sisters. Early in his life, Jesus learned the importance of healthy and locally grown foods and hard work. His father had a 2-acre garden where he grew many things, like beans, beets, squash, fava beans, cilantro, broccoli, jalapeño, chili de marrones, carrots, and cauliflower. His father began teaching Jesus and his brother about agriculture at an early age. Jesus brings a great love and knowledge of agriculture to the farm park. He is skilled in vegetable production, irrigation, soil health and caring for bees.
As the RGFP Manager, Jesus applies his extensive farming and agriculture knowledge as well as his other professional experience in business administration, community support, education, and advocacy. Jesus is very passionate about farming. He says, “Where there is a lot of water, there is a lot of life.” Jesus enjoys conversing with people, hearing their stories, teaching what he has learned along the way, and sharing experiences and risks.
Athlete & Farmers Market Steward
Hi, my name is Brayan Flores and I am the Assistant Manager for The Rio Grande Farm Park. I am a full time student at Trinidad State Junior College where I also run Track.
During the summer, I will also be one of the on site Managers at the Alamosa Farmers Market. I’m also a Community Leader for the Colorado Trust. In my free time I like to travel, fish, and learn new skills.
The champion behind Mercodillo en el Rio
Seth continues his service at the Rio Grande Farm Park as Program Director after VISTA service. During the past year, Seth helped manage volunteer, education, and land projects at the Farm Park with the SLV community.
Originally from Brighton, Colorado, Seth’s background includes youth development in New Orleans, data and mapping with US EPA in the Mountain West, and Peace Corps service in the mid-hills region of Nepal.
Seth loves bats, yak, carrots, writing songs, and cutthroat trout.
Steward Little Free Library
Salai has been a volunteer at the Farm Park for the last 3 years, working land projects, planting seedlings and watering trees. Salai has a background in gardening, landscaping and has been serving our community through the public library. She implemented literacy projects like the “Little Free Libraries”. She is joining our team at the Rio Grande Farm Park where she will be able to apply her abilities on the land and with our community.
Liz Breckbill is from Kidron Ohio, and went to College at Goshen College in Goshen Indiana. During college she studied environmental science with a specific focus on earth and climate science, and a minor in accounting. During her time at Goshen she was involved in choir and participated on the women’s volleyball team.
In her free time she enjoys listening to music, and learning about different cultures and languages. She enjoys spending time outside and making connections with those around her.
Local Food Local Places
Jack of All Trades
Abe grew up in Crestone Colorado and graduated with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Adams State University. This “Jack of All Trades” background has lead to Abe working in a variety of fields including food, art, music, theatre, permaculture, sustainability, agriculture, mass communications and video production.
Abe started working with the SLV Local Foods Coalition in 2013 as a MoKi Coordinator and has also worked for the Valley Roots Food Hub and volunteered for the Rio Grande Farm Park and Cooking Matters.
In 2016 he was hired by Conejos Clean Water as the Director of Community Gardens and Outdoor Programs and was involved in the SLV Inspire coalition to bring 1 million dollars of grant funding from Great Outdoors Colorado to the SLV for outdoor programs, pathways and places. He has worked on community projects with partners such as SLVGO, Alpine Achievers Initiative, Boys and Girls Club of the San Luis Valley, S.P.M.D.T.U, South Conejos School District, City of Alamosa, Town of Antonito, Fresh Tracks, the Children and Nature Network, Nature$s Table, Taste of Native Cuisine, Integrated Nutrition Education Program, La Puente and VEGI, and the Orient Land Trust.
In 2019 Abe was hired as the Local Foods Local Place Program Director for the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition and is working to make more community connections around the local foods movement in the San Luis Valley.
Abe lives on his 35 acre farm in Antonito, Colorado with his wife Morgan Velasquez and son Izrael Rain and continues to perform original music with his band, Sweet Radish and produce videos with his company Jack Rabbit Hollow.
Makeup Artist & Chef
Creating Art Through Food
I am someone who strives past personal indifferences to make a smile go beyond my face. My purpose is to create whether it’s art or through food. Creativity is what makes the beauty in a dark world a little brighter for me!
A Sweet Tooth Lady
I am a born and raised local with a passion for baking. Will always try to get a smile on your face, whether it be with silly jokes or with my yummy baked goods. I’m a sweet tooth in a lady!
Community Advocate & Olympic Runner
Zoila is a community leader, liaison, and our Cooking Matters Coordinator.
Raised and born in Mexico she made a name for herself as the best female athlete of the year for all sports while at Adams State University. Upon graduation in 2004, she chased the Olympic dream for the next 12 years as a marathoner, made 3 world championship teams, and became an Olympic alternate for Team USA in 2008.
In 2016, she applied for her first-ever job outside running with Cooking Matters. Nutrition was a big part of her life as an athlete and she loves teaching nutrition education both in her native language, Spanish, and in English all around the San Luis Valley.
Zoila’s free time is spent with family and helping out the community as a member of Promotores Del Valle de San Luis and Alamosa Schools as a community liaison. Recently she created the “Zoila Gómez, Si Se Puede Scholarship for DACA” to support documented and undocumented immigrants from the San Luis Valley.
“Miss Lane” (Lois), hails from Albuquerque, NM and moved to Colorado in 2014 from Santa Fe to manage the Montrose Farmers Market. Her professional experience centers around elementary education, healthy living and local food access.
As an elementary teacher with a passion for local food, she realized it was important for kids and families to return to the dinner table and learn how to make healthy meals. She is a certified Holistic Health Coach and graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in 2011.
She is passionate about helping communities to improve their health and wellness through finding connection to their local food sources and teaching families how to make healthy lifestyle choices.
In her spare time she enjoys writing, yoga, walking her dogs, gardening, cooking and traveling. She looks forward to learning more about the San Luis Valley, and becoming a part of a community that celebrates its connection to its people and the land.
Valley Roots Food Hub
Permaculture & Biofuels
Nicholas Chambers is a Colorado native who earned a degree in Anthropology from University of Montana, and has been in the valley full time for 15 years.
With a back ground and training in Permaculture, Biodynamics, and Deep Organics, he and his family, as well as a host of international interns, have been running a small CSA mixed farm and homestead in Crestone for the last 10 years.
Nicholas has also been an Adjunct Instructor with Santa Fe Community College’s Biofuels lab, and has given presentations and trainings on biomass energy around Colorado and New Mexico. His consulting firm, Living Arts Systems, offers solutions for individuals, communities, and municipalities in renewable food and energy systems.
Nicholas comes to the Valley Roots Food Hub and the SLV Coalition after 2 years with the Colorado start up SOURCE Local Foods serving Summit County, Chaffee County, and the San Luis Valley.
Nicholas is deeply passionate and excited to be a part of the evolving local food system that is happening both regionally and nationally.
Red Hot Chili Peppa
Denver born but cast yonder to the prairies of Nebraska a westward wind bad ended JD’s sojourn in the Midwest and dropped him here in the Valley. Always ready for the spontaneous with a chunk of spunk, he’s the Red Hot Chili Pepp’r with plenty of spice. Locals living on Lane 5 N know him as the legend that sings solo karaoke on late night runs. When he’s not delivering deliciousness on 4 wheels, anyone can catch him tearing it up on two. He’s an avid cyclist with a thirst for dirt and the open road.
Often spotted with fruit earrings
Al grew up in Marietta, GA. Upon graduating from Georgia Tech in 2015 with a B.S. in Science, Technology, and Culture, she took a one-way train ride on the Amtrak to Eugene, OR to seek adventure. There she did work-trade through World Wide Opportunities for Organic Farming on a small homestead for 5 months. She quickly fell in love with the healing properties of being connected to the land, good nutritious food, the town, and ended up being all consumed by the vast and supportive local food system Eugene has to offer. She worked at a small family-run cafe, volunteered with Farm to School initiatives and School Garden Project.
Wanting more, her life took a small detour and she ended up in the San Luis Valley volunteering with Alpine Achievers Initiative for 2 years, primarily helping run an after school program in Crestone as well as bringing garden education to the South Conejos School District and Boys and Girls Club of the San Luis Valley. Post-AmeriCorps, Al worked a seasonal position with the Valley Educational Gardens Initiative (VEGI), a program of La Puente before finding herself at the Valley Roots Food Hub as the Markets Manager.
Al is passionate about regenerative agriculture, reconnecting others to the food they eat, and nutrition access for all. In her free time, she loves hiking with her sidekick pup Elio, practicing yoga, sewing, reading, sharing her poems at Open Mic Nights and of course cooking in the kitchen.
Telling Stories & Writing Songs
Ally Jean graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Conservation Biology, where she learned to appreciate the delicate interconnectedness of ecosystems. She was a Fellow for the Sunrise Movement, a grassroots environmental justice movement that advocates for progressive policy changes.
She stumbled upon the Coalition as an AmeriCorps VISTA in 2020, then stayed on as the SLVLFC Outreach Coordinator. The best part of her role has been providing a platform for local food stories to be shared.
In her role as Director of Business Development at the Valley Roots Food Hub, she works to build up the local food economy. She finds much joy in connecting new customers with the fresh, local ingredients available all-year-round at VRFH.
In her free time, she writes music and seeks out local hangouts.
Pallet Jack Cowboy
Ryan Davis grew up in Atlanta, Georgia with baseball, Boy Scouts, and punk rock. His parents grew up on farms and he was always indirectly around their horses and cattle. Ryan has been around food and restaurants since he was 16. He worked with many different chefs and restaurants, and those experiences taught him how to recognize quality foods through taste and appearance. Ryan came out West to the Sangre de Cristo Mountains first as a teenager, and then returned to Crestone in San Luis Valley for meditation retreats. He then eventually moved to Crestone to experience the various Buddhist retreat centers. Ryan is now about to graduate from a traditional Tibetan medicine program which focuses on the interrelationships between plants, food, medicine, and the elemental processes of the seasons.
Runs a record label
Alex Disbrow grew up in Clearwater, Florida and graduated from the University of Colorado – Boulder in 2013 with a BA in English Literature.
After graduation, Alex lived in New York and California working in the art, music, and cannabis industries. Focused on independent communities and networks, Alex worked with Know-Wave Radio, Shea Stadium BK, Pehrspace, Moran Bondaroff Gallery, The Standard Hotel, Foggy Daze Delivery and Disbrow Family Farms.
In 2017, Alex returned to Colorado. The next few years in Denver were spent in the DIY scene and working at Angelo’s CD’s and More.
Alex’s desire to develop a more direct relationship with the Colorado food network and to continue working with independent communities led him to the San Luis Valley and Valley Roots Food Hub.
In addition to his work with Valley Roots Food Hub, Alex grows cordyceps mushrooms, collects movies, and runs a record label and mail-order record club called BEERMONEYUSA.
A Working Momma
4H & FFA Star
Hi! My name is Alliyah Garcia. I am a San Luis Valley native; I grew up in Alamosa and attended school at Sangre de Cristo. I later continued my education at Adams State University, where I received an Associates of Science in agribusiness management. While attending ASU I was a participant of the Collegiate farm bureau club, where our main interests included solving and discussing the issues that are seen in agriculture today. As a child and throughout high school, I was involved in 4-H, and FFA where I participated in showing goats and hogs, I also competed in livestock evaluation, meat evaluation and public speaking. My involvement in 4-H and FFA encourages me to advocate and serve the youth as well as others that contribute to the agriculture industry. My ultimate life goal is to one day have a hog operation that focuses on personal and genetic development. Some of my hobbies include collecting house plants, going for walks outside, and spending quality time with my family.