Our People

Staff

Jesus Flores, Farm Manager

Jesus is a lifelong farmer and farmworker. Jesus brings great love and knowledge of agriculture to the farm park. He is skilled in vegetable production, irrigation, soil health, and caring for bees.

Val Valdez, Co-Program Director

“My name is Valentina (Val) Valdez and I am excited to return to the San Luis Valley Foods Coalition as the Program Director of the Rio Grande Farm Park. I was born and grazed in this valley, in La Jara, and am a 5th generation farmer. I graduated from the University of Southern California with a B.S. in Business Administration and an emphasis in Social Entrepreneurship.

I’ve found my way here via my interest in regenerative systems and desire to give back to the community that raised me. It’s my wholehearted belief that holistic agriculture and decentralized food systems have the power to change the trajectory of the youth in our area for the better and I am beyond excited to leverage the potential of the Farm Park and the LFC in this position.”

Seth Armentrout, Co-Program Director

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’s dreams include bats, yak, carrots, writing songs, and cutthroat trout

Salai Taylor, Maintenance Pro

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, Land and Education Coordinator

Liz 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. Liz will be a member of the farm park crew for the next year. 

Christina Riccardo, Alpine Achievers Education Coordinator

Christina grew up in the lush and vibrant Pacific Northwest — just outside the city of Seattle, WA. Her adventurous spirit and desire to learn eventually led her to serve as an AmeriCorps member with Alpine Achievers Initiative. She served at Alamosa Elementary K-2 as a teacher’s aid and offered academic support for small groups of students. The community here in the San Luis Valley absolutely stole her heart and she accepted an offer to serve a second term with AAI. This time around she will be serving at the Rio Grande Farm Park, helping with the planning and implementation of programming for the brand new education center! Christina is so excited to bring her passion for empowering youth and her love of the land to the RGFP. When she won’t be covered in dirt at her service site, you can find Christina at the local thrift store, hula hooping in the park, reading about edible and medicinal plants, or cheffing up mac n’ cheese in the backcountry! 

Liza Marron, Director-San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition

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, fundraising, public speaking, and managing a budget. She serves on the Community Advisory Council for LiveWell Colorado, the Community Advisory Board of the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center, the Mountain Valley School Board President, the Treasurer of The Saguache County Sustainable Environment and Economic Development and is the Treasurer of the Valley Food Coop Board.

Ally Jean Arnold, Outreach Coordinator

Ally Jean is from Washington State. She studied Conservation Biology and has always been passionate about protecting our environment. She loves mountain sports, the ocean, and singing. She believes that local action is critical for building the grassroots movement we need to make real change. 

Land Use Action Group (LUAG)

The Land Use Action Group is made up of RGFP staff and committed community stakeholders to make decisions about using our resources at the Farm Park responsibly. The team is currently made up of Jesus Flores, RGFP Farm Manager; Addelina Lucero, RGFP Program Director; Patrick O’Neill of Soil Health Services; and Dr. Bill Brinton, long-time supporter of RGFP, as well as the two RGFP long-term volunteers. The group meets monthly to discuss and plan land management strategies related to water and irrigation, cover crops, compost, RGFP workdays, capital projects, security, and more.

bill brinton

Dr. Bill Brinton: Dr. Brinton came to Alamosa to work with Valley-Wide Health Systems, earning his medical degree from the University of Colorado Denver, School of Medicine in 1979. He and his partner Kristina Steinberg are huge advocates for the Rio Grande Farm Park, believing that the organization offers a new kind of economic self-reliance for the community. Dr. Brinton is a quintessential volunteer, donating at least 10 hours of his time a week during the RGFP growing season.

Patrick O’Neill: A soil expert from Soil Health Services, Patrick is a valuable source of knowledge for the Rio Grande Farm Park staff.

Sandi Pounder

Sherice Shiner

Board

Rio Grande Farmers Cooperative

Antonio Garcia: Antonio is a retired contractor/owner of A&J Solar, which specialized in sustainable adobe buildings. Currently, he is a Rio Grande Farm Park farmer, at-home gardener, and owner of Tierra Sana Organic Produce, who uses organic high-altitude practices with native non-GMO San Luis Valley seeds. Antonio is a passionate advocate for providing healthy organic food to the community. (Photo by Brennan Cira)

 

 

 

 

CaRi ConaRi: CaRi grows organic herbs for her tea business, InfiniTea. She also grows produce for the Farm to Pantry Program. (Photo by Gabrielle Fleming)

 

 

 

Anselmo & Jorge Gonzales: The brothers each have their own plot and actively participate in Farm Park programs for farmers. (Photo by Brennan Cira)

 

 

Francisco Sebastian: Besides growing produce at the Farm Park since 2016 for his business “Francisco’s Fresh Vegetables,” Francisco has been working for White Mountain Farms and White Rock Specialty since 1997. He has been selling at farmers markets for more than 18 years. (Photo by Carmille Garcia)

 

 

Eulalia: My name is Eulalia and I am from Guatemala. I am 67 years old and growing and cultivating for me is a way of life. I grew up gardening organic food as long as I can remember and I continue to grow that way. We always ate organic vegetables so I encourage our community to eat organic produce to stay healthy. The plants I like harvesting the most are all the different types of beans!

 

Mauricio Velasquez: My name is Mauricio and my family and I are orginally from Guatemala. We are a people who like to cultivate. I have been farming at the Rio Grande Farm Park since it’s inception, but this is my first year farming on the commercial plots. Overall my family and I are accustomed to farming and the way of life that it brings. For us, it is a familial endeavor, and we strive to keep our children eating well and more importantly organic as it prevents disease, a major problem in the current food system.

 

Volunteers