By Owen Woods |


AFTER hard work and a triumphant effort, Rio Grande Farm Park and SLVGO accepted the Culture of Health Prize on Tuesday for Alamosa County.

There was a virtual watch party held at the Alamosa Family Rec Center as the ceremony unfolded online. Members from the SLVGO, Rio Grande Farm Park, and the community were in attendance. Alamosa County is one of 10 counties in the nation to be awarded the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation prize.

Liza Marron of the SLV Local Foods Coalition and Patrick Ortiz of SLVGO gave acceptance speeches in front of a laptop, backdropped by friends and members of the partner organizations holding signs that read “Together We Can,” “Health Equity For All,” and “Way to go Alamosa!” 

“This is the story of over three decades of work helping those most in need in our community, and having hard conversations on what solutions the community wanted to see happen,” said Ortiz in his speech. “At the core of it all: the reverence and the love of the natural resources of the San Luis Valley.” 

Marron thanked the many organizations and individuals from the Valley who made the award possible. “We are so grateful to all of you,” she said. 

The path to this award made its way through every community within the San Luis Valley and has provided Alamosa with something unique. The purpose of the Rio Grande Farm Park is to provide children with an outdoor and environmental education center, provide a place for local food to flourish and bloom, and as Ortiz said in his speech, provides “entrepreneurial farming opportunities for our immigrant population.”  

Former Rio Grande Farm Park Director Julie Mordecai spoke with The Citizen about the Robert Wood Johnson award, and the history and success of the Rio Grande Farm Park. “It’s a community vision, it’s not my vision, or anyone else’s vision. It’s a community vision,” she stressed. 

She spoke on the evolution of Alamosa’s Weekends on the Rio program that “happened through a percolating process of a bunch of people sitting in a room and coming up with ideas without any personal need to line their pockets.” 

This award will allow Alamosa to continue to thrive as a healthy equity hub for the San Luis Valley and Colorado. This inspires a healthier lifestyle both physically and mentally, but having this access, allows more people the opportunity to pursue a healthier lifestyle.

“We are so grateful to bring this prize home to our community that has worked so hard to create a culture of health in Alamosa County,” said Ortiz. 

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