Choctaw Fresh Produce in Philadelphia, Mississippi won a national award. The local farm was named the winner of Pro*ACT, Cultivating Change contest where local farmers compete for grant awards ranging from $1,000 to $20,000. The grants will be used to complete a wide variety of sustainability and expansion projects that will positively impact each winning farm and the surrounding community as well.
Choctaw Fresh Produce plans to use its grant of $20,000 to build raised beds for increased produce production on the Choctaw reservation.
Choctaw Fresh Produce was established in 2012 and grows tomatoes, assorted greens, squash, peppers, and cucumbers. They partner with Sunrise Fresh Produce, a PRO*ACT fresh produce distributor and member of Greener Fields Together, a program that supports sustainability throughout the fresh produce supply chain. The funds will enable Choctaw Fresh Produce to reach its goal of allowing them to expand their production on tribal lands and ultimately supply more fresh food to their community.
“Choctaw Fresh Produce was thrilled to learn that we won the Cultivating Change grant,” said John Hendrix, General Manager of Choctaw Fresh Produce. “We will be using our grant award to establish permanent, raised beds that will improve our yields, quality, and reduce our expenses over the long-term. We are hoping that this will allow us to use a no-till approach by the end of 2018. The Cultivating Change grant will take our organic farming practices to the next level and prepare us to serve our larger, regional market.”
Cultivating Change was started in 2015 as a way to promote and support the sustainability efforts of local farmers by providing funds for new or upgraded equipment and facilities, certifications, or eco-driven projects that will minimize environmental impact and maximize production. This year, 100 farms participated in the grant program, which has awarded more than $200,000 in grants since the program’s inception. Six project proposals, representing a total of $55,000 in grant money, were selected by panel review, and five additional outstanding winners, who each will receive from $1,000 to $10,000 in grant funds, were chosen via popular vote.
Farms throughout North America were invited to submit applications that clearly defined a quantifiable and distinct outcome in one of four areas: marketing, infrastructure, capacity building, or certifications.
“Our team was amazed by the quality of the applications, ingenuity of projects, and ultimately enthusiasm from the community,” said Anne Nichols, Sustainability Manager for Greener Fields Together. “We are excited to see these projects funded and moving forward.”