Produce Program serves hundreds of tribal members each year

For the first time, the Southern Ute Agriculture Division’s Produce Program hosted a spring sale this year.

The move was made in response to steadily growing demand among tribal members, said Lou Cundiff, the division’s administrative assistant, who helps coordinate the program. The program offers high-quality, locally sourced produce to tribal members at discounted prices.

“They very much appreciate it,” Cundiff said. “It’s an awesome program.”

The program began in the mid-1990s and has offered a variety of different products over time. For the last few years, potatoes from Monte Vista, Colo., and dryland beans from Dove Creek, Colo., have been program staples. Last year, the division added flour and blue cornmeal from an outfit in Cortez, Colo.

Produce Sale-JWS

Jeremy Wade Shockley/SU DRUM

“The benefit is that we’re able to provide these products at a greatly reduced price. We know that they’re coming from quality local sources,” said Division Head Kevin Mallow. “The membership sees it as something that’s special for them.”

Interest in the program jumped last year when division staffers took orders at a tribal general meeting, Mallow said. The division filled more than 150 orders last fall, he said, comprising 11,000 pounds of potatoes, 8,000 pounds of beans and 6,000 pounds of flour and cornmeal.

This year, for the first springtime sale, more than 100 tribal members responded, Cundiff said. She said the division plans to continue offering two sales each year going forward: a fall offering with orders taken in September for October distribution, and a spring sale in April with distribution in May.

The division considers whether to offer additional products on an ongoing basis. For more information, call 970-563-0100 or visit www.southernute-nsn.gov/natural-resources/agriculture.

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