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PlacerGROWN president ready to talk ag

By: Dave Chappell
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As the new president of PlacerGROWN, I have come to see that over the years all the past presidents have added a different style of visibility to the organization. It’s my turn now, and it is a challenging, and exciting opportunity for me to talk about agriculture with anyone that will listen. I love talking about agriculture. It’s practically second nature. Though I haven’t farmed in several years, I have been involved in various aspects of farming and gardening education in many different settings. I farmed in San Luis Obispo County for several years, and worked in the field as a rep for Monterey County Ag Extension, and in the seed industry in the Sacramento valley area. I sold produce in the Bay Area, and retail in Sacramento. In the mid-’90s, I became an instructor for a garden program for one of the local Auburn schools, a well-developed half-acre garden with a greenhouse. It was a wonderful experience, and I got to explore with kids the intricacies of “mini-farming,” as I like to think of it. My passions in agriculture run the gamut, but I tend to focus on personal relationships with growers, understanding their needs and various cultural aspects of their trade. I firmly believe in childhood-through-adulthood exposure to agriculture, food, where it comes from and how it gets to you. In addition, I also believe that, while fresh food and locally produced food may seem “faddish” it is not. The farm community in this county is larger than most people think, and at the same time is a patchwork of smaller scale productions. It is important to keep our farmers active, engaged with consumers, and honoring the long tradition of farming in this area dating back over 160 years. I believe that the effort at keeping farming a viable, hopefully profitable, vibrant part of our society is crucial to our culture, and community. You’ll hear me promoting farm-to-school programs of all kinds, encouraging farm visits, working to get fresh food into school lunch and nutrition programs, providing opportunities for kids, and parents alike, the chance to see working farms, and encouraging more school garden projects. Children are consumers today, and their food choices are important as tomorrow’s buyers, and maybe even producers. As a marketing organization, we really hope to help develop new places for our farmers to sell. Farmers markets are really expanding, bringing the farmers and their workers into direct face-to-face contact with those they produce for. As much as we can we will encourage farmers to sell to institutions, businesses, restaurants, and create their own finished value-added products as our goals. Additionally, we hope to be part of the trend to bring visitors to the region to explore our farms and wineries, eating establishments, lodgings, and cultural events. Farmers, ranchers, and the fruit industries are all willing to bring people to Placer County, and we hope to assist them. I am very happy to work in this position, and will do my very best to celebrate a sustainable farming community in this region. Dave Chappell is president of the board of directors of PlacerGROWN. Learn more at PlacerGROWN.org