Choctaw Fresh Produce has been awarded a $20,000 grant in a national Cultivating Change contest that will allow them to increase production.

Choctaw plans to use its grant to build raised beds for increased produce production on the Choctaw Indian Reservation.

Established in 2012, Choctaw Fresh Produce 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 grant was through PRO*ACT.

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.

“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 monies, 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,” stated Anne Nichols, Sustainability Manager for Greener Fields Together. “We are excited to see these projects funded and moving forward.”

PRO*ACT CEO, Max Yeater, shared the goal to “really ‘cultivate change’ in communities through effective support of these local farmers who provide fresh produce, jobs, and inspiration to those they serve. It’s our hope that these investments provide the needed support for them to continue to grow.”

Applications to participate in the “Cultivating Change” competition in 2018 will be accepted beginning on Oct. 1.

PRO*ACT is North America’s leading distributor of fresh food to the foodservice and retail industries, sourcing from premier national, regional, and local farmers. PRO*ACT streamlines the produce supply chain, offering significant cost benefits and an easy, one-call solution to source the freshest produce from more than 70 third-party-inspected, independently owned, local distribution centers across the United States and Canada.