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CRIT gets grant for produce cooler...
Will help CRIT Farms and other area farmers to diversify agricultural base...
On December 20, the federal Department of Commerce awarded the EDA Public Works Grant to the Colorado River Indian Tribes.
The amount of this grant is $1.75 million and will be used to partially fund the construction of a vegetable cooler on the CRIT Reservation, a key addition to the Tribes' agricultural facilities.
The cooler will be located on McCabe Road about a mile west of Mohave Road and twenty miles south of the town of Parker.
The proposed agricultural cooler will occupy a 40,000 square-foot area. It is designed for processing melons (cantaloupe and honeydew) and vegetables (lettuce, broccoli, cauliflower and corn) before they are shipped to the market.
The facility will allow CRIT Farms and other area farmers to grow and ship crops not before possible in this area.
"This is an important facility for the diversification of our agricultural base," said Tribal Chairman Daniel Eddy, Jr. "We are very pleased to be able to receive this grant and to have the opportunity to construct such a beneficial addition to our economy."
The building consists of a pressure cooling area, cold storage and a standing area/shipping dock enclosed in insulated paneling.
In addition, it will comprise administrative offices, driver lounge, shop, battery charging, electrical, engine rooms, maintenance office, receiving/packaging materials office and receiving/pre-cooling area.
The receiving area will contain the vacuum cooler and equipment skid, the refrigeration system condensing unit, ice injector, ice generator, and ice storage.
"This is something we've been working on for quite some time," said Dempsey Holt of the CRIT Farm Board. "I'm glad it went through because it will allow CRIT Farms to diversify and not have to depend on other entities. It is another step toward self-sufficiency."
This cooler project is part of CRIT agricultural production diversification program initiated since 2001 by Dennis Patch, Chairman of the Farm Board, in order to create sustainable economic activities in the valley.
One main concern of the Farm Board was that there is no guarantee that federal subsidies, particularly for cotton, will always be available. Therefore, a pro-active measure was needed to insure a healthy economy for the farming industry in the valley.
The restructuring program stresses the need for diversification into produce cultivations in the valley and the development of agricultural processing plants.
Although Parker Valley provides a good environment for the production of vegetables and melons, produce cultivation is still marginal at the present time, and not because of climate. The lack of a facility like the proposed cooler is the primary reason.
Not only will CRIT Farms be able to use the cooler for its own crops, independent farmers will be able to lease capacity in the cooler as well, which will help CRIT offset some of the costs of its operation.
This project is expected to create more jobs and foster more stable and diversified economies in La Paz County.