Cherilyn Yazzie spent 13 years working as a social worker, managing nutrition services for a public health organization for Navajo County. Yazzie realized, however, that recommending people eat healthy foods like vegetables and fresh foods doesn’t have much impact when those foods aren’t readily available on the reservation. After experiencing and realizing the inequity of healthy food sources on the Navajo Nation, Cherilyn and her husband Mike left the traditional 8-5 work week to, instead, revitalize traditional and agricultural kinships with the land and help their tribal communities tackle food access issues. So in 2018, Cherilyn and Mike created Coffee Pot Farms.
Quote: “It just came down to me thinking that maybe I should learn how to grow food myself, because if I'm educating, and we don't have food access, I need to know what the process just to grow a vegetable is, and then I can understand and put myself in that situation,” Yazzie explains. “And so that's kind of where it started, just wanting to grow something.”
“Disparities on the Navajo Reservation”:
In an over 27,000 square mile reservation, there are only 13 grocery stores to serve over 150,000+ Navajo Nation citizens that live within the nation’s boundaries! There are also unusually high incidents of chronic diseases, like type-2 diabetes, because a lot of families have to drive very far to get fresh produce. Many households can’t even afford to drive anywhere because they are very low income and most are actually sitting below the national poverty line.
Like many households on the Navajo Nation, the owners of Coffee Pot Farms also struggle with inequitable access to fresh water and electricity for their house, and especially their farm! Mike drives 16 hours every single week to haul water from over 25+ miles away in order for the farm to have water to grow their veggies and use in their house. Coffee Pot Farms has had to adapt to life without running water by implementing different growing techniques like using a greenhouse, drip irrigation, and careful soil management. Although they deal with inequitable access to water, Yazzie hopes Coffee Pot Farms inspires others within the reservations to start farming their own healthy, fresh foods so that future generations will continue to be healthy, live long, and continue to share their traditions and culture.
Currently, Coffee Pot Farms is a 1-acre farm that is in yearly production, with a 35-acre plot that they plan to revitalize in the next five years in order to meet the growing need for fresh food from surrounding communities. Coffee Pot Farms continues to be Native American and woman-owned and located on the Navajo Reservation in Dilkon, Arizona. Cherilyn has served as the proud owner and Principal Farm Operator for the past five years. Coffee Pot Farms was founded on the belief that food sovereignty is the critical first step to creating healthy communities and healthy families. As a healthy food business enterprise, Coffee Pot Farms retails through regional farmers markets, CSA home-delivery systems, and as a local food supplier for other institutional and retail outlets, both on and off the Navajo Reservation. Some of their local community organizing tactics involve free local gardening workshops and joining coalitions to write and define food policies that work towards access to a culturally appropriate and healthy food system.
“Production for community”:
Average produce each month for Coffee Pot Farms is a whopping 1,500 lbs of food from January - October! Produce mostly goes to local families but they also service a restaurant in Winslow called Turquoise Room, a local Native chef from AlterNativEats restaurant, Winslow Council of Aging (a local senior center), Winslow Farmers Market, Hopi Community Supported Agriculture and they also feed themselves with the vegetables they grow, too. In addition to these community programs, they also are able to accept SNAP EBT and partnered with Pinnacle Prevention to do a “double-up bucks” food program so people using SNAP EBT can buy one, get one free!
“How we will use these funds”:
$35,000 goes to a driller to drill a 600ft water well to the aquifer below the farm. With three different quotes for drilling done, they found this tol be the average price to drill a water well.
$10,000 goes to purchasing a water pump that will either be a gas powered generator or a solar water pump; it depends on how deep the well goes to get to the water
$5,000 goes to getting a stock tank to hold the water.
“The goal and end results”:
Donating towards this cause will help create access to water for their household and farm so they can grow more food for the communities they help. It will also help increase the capacity of communities they can help! Coffee Pot Farms would also like to grow produce year round and also are planning to increase the number of CSA memberships to 50 boxes! They have recently added a restaurant account in Winslow, The Turquoise Room.
In the first-year after access to water well: “We will be able to grow more food so that our community and families can have access to nutrient dense produce.” - Cherilyn Yazzie
In the first five-years after access to water well: “We want to increase the amount of producible acres at our farm. We also want to begin utilizing the old corn field which is 35 acres.” - Cherilyn Yazzie
For direct contact and more information, you can reach Coffee Pot Farms at their mailing address, social media accounts and through their website:
Coffee Pot Farms
HC 63 Box 6206,
Winslow, AZ 86047
Facebook - Coffee Pot Farms
Instagram - @coffeepotfarms
Thank you for considering your donation to help this local, Indigenous, woman-owned farm! Coffee Pot Farms is dedicated to producing the highest quality produce and making them available to low-income families. In addition, they grow good food for the health of their people.