With programs for schools, elders, and diabetics across 10 counties, Choctaw Fresh Produce is making sure its tribal members have access to fresh, healthy food.
A decade ago, Daphne Snow had to drive three hours from her home in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to buy organic vegetables. Since then, some organic produce has crept into the state via national supermarket chains, but quality, locally grown options are still hard to find. Even so, Snow gets what she needs because these days, she helps grow the vegetables herself.
Snow is the farm manager for Choctaw Fresh Produce, an organic farming initiative started by the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (MBCI) to increase access to affordable, healthy produce. The farm serves 11,000 members, who live in eight separate communities spread across 10 counties. Snow oversees five acres of high tunnel greenhouses on four different certified organic farms on the reservation and, along with three of Choctaw’s five other employees, grows staples like corn, beans, and squash.
“Instead of fast food and junk food, we’re providing people with greens and fresh vegetables, things they need,” says Snow, who has worked for the tribe for 20 years and is Choctaw Fresh’s only non-tribal employee. “And what we’re growing is probably even better than what they’re growing in their backyards. Most people I know aren’t going to pick the bugs off or pull the bad plants instead of spraying. It’s very hard to find stuff like we produce.”