For eight years the Desert Spoon Food Hub has been focused on making it easier to bring locally sourced organic food to family tables El Paso and Las Cruces.
The nonprofit organization delivers weekly farm boxes with 100% organic produce that is grown by local farmers.
“Our main purpose why we made this non-profit was to support local farmers and give the community access to healthy organic foods,” said Patsy Terrazas-Stallworth, Co-founder of Desert Food Spoon Hub.
Terrazas-Stallworth and her daughters Adriana Clowe and Vanessa Brady started Desert Spoon Food Hub in 2014. The family-run nonprofit’s founders believe it’s crucial to recognize the range of food experiences from how it’s grown to how it gets to consumers’s kitchens and tables.
Last fall, the U.S. Department of Agriculture awarded $445,018 in funding to the nonprofit to help the organization expand and increase El Pasoans’ access to local produce and strengthen the regional food system.
“This grant will further our mission to build a more local and inclusive food system that provides greater representation and economic advancement for our local farmers,” Clowe said. “At a time when we have witnessed the many inequalities of our food system, this investment further shows the importance of centering communities and agriculture in how we address the many challenges we have around food and how we choose to feed ourselves.”
Clowe and U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar jointly announced the USDA funding on December 2nd. It’s part of the FY21 appropriations omnibus distributed by the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service through the Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) according to Escobar.
“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the importance of transforming our nation’s food system and the need to create more opportunities for El Paso families to access more locally-sourced, nutritious, and affordable ingredients,” Escobar said.
Shoppers can subscribe to weekly community box deliveries of organic goods for $30 a week or biweekly subscriptions for $30 every two weeks. There is also an option for ordering a one-time box, also for $30. Local pickup sites are also available.
Desert Spoon began with 10 weekly deliveries and years later, it’s grown to about 100 boxes delivered weekly. There were more than 400 customers on a waiting list early in the pandemic in 2020 when many people preferred to order food rather than go into stores.
Desert Spoon Food Hub partners with local farmers to supply the fresh produce to maintain premium nutritional quality.
“When you buy produce from a big grocery store you do not know where it came from. Nor do you know the process it took to get here,” Terrazas-Stallworth said. “Your apples could have been grown in Washington and by the time they get to you, they have already lost so much of their nutrients. Not to mention if they had any added preservatives or chemicals to them.”
All of the fruit and vegetables are from organic farmers in El Paso County and Southern New Mexico. Stallworth said the goal is to help small, local growers at a time when much of the nation’s farming is done by big commercial companies.
Bill Klugue, Claudia Jeffrey and Mario Holguin are among the farmers that sell their harvests to Desert Food Hub.
Bill Klugue is from Cider Mill Farms, a 100-year old certified-organic fruit orchard located in High Rolls, NM. Claudia Jeffrey is from South 40 Farm, a family farm practicing organic methods in Montecillo, NM. Mario Holguin is from Desierto Verde, a farm in Anthony, New Mexico.
“We as an organization strive to fill in two different gaps,” said Tony Marmolejo, a Desert Food Hub employee. “One is on the producer side, the local farmers, we try to provide the means to be able to get their products out there in the market. The other gap is on the other end, the consumer side, where we try to provide or make accessible good healthy produce for those who may not have easy access to those types of foods from the community.”
The organization has grown to five staff members. Recently Desert Food Hub received a grant for $43,767.85 from the Paseo Del Norte Foundation for a children’s program. The organization will be providing a weekly box subscription of four items including healthy produce, recipes, and hands-on arts and crafts.
“Being a nonprofit does work. It’s grants that help us expand because without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” Terrazas-Stallworth said.