Agriculture Grants Spice Up A Pueblo Sriracha Maker And Six Other Businesses

Hayley Sanchez/CPR News
Joe DiTomaso, a fourth generation worker at DiTomaso Farms in Pueblo, holds freshly picked Pueblo chiles, Sept. 20, 2018.

A Pueblo County sriracha maker is one of seven companies getting a boost from recent Colorado Department of Agriculture “Move the Needle” grants. 

Jolene "JoJo" Collins of JoJo’s Sriracha pulverizes thousands of pounds of locally grown Pueblo chiles and combines them with Colorado garlic and apple cider vinegar, plus salt and palm sugar. She said the grant is a game-changer. She’ll buy industrial-grade equipment that will double her ability to process chiles during the local harvest season.

“We produce two miles from where our farmers grow,” Collins said. “So we have this really tangible connection from the agriculture that's right there.”

Collins moved her business to Pueblo four years ago to be the first maker in the Excelsior Farmers’ Exchange Incubator Kitchen space at the former Excelsior Middle School in eastern Pueblo County. She still works in that shared space, alongside other food producers. She also volunteers with the Pueblo Food Project to help solve local food insecurity issues.

Other funding recipients include hemp, meat, barley and fruit processors located across the state. CDA’s Colorado Proud manager Danielle Trotta said they want the grant funds to help the companies, “increase their throughput, open new market channels, (causing) more expansion not only for their own facilities and businesses, but also the folks that supply certain types of agricultural products to these processors.”

The grants total more than $331,000 and went to both large and small businesses. They’ll use the funds to upgrade machinery, infrastructure and make other improvements. Trotta said this helps them bring innovative products to market.

“(It) not only supports them, but it supports the communities they live in,” Trotta said. “To be able to spread those dollars through a domino effect of one company's success growing into multiple other successes.”

There were 64 total applicants for the funding, which Trotta said surprised the agency. She said it shows the need for this kind of funding. 

“Seeing the amount of need for these projects and startup funds was breathtaking.”

The grant monies were part of an allocation in CARES Act funds to support Colorado agricultural processors and manufacturers. according to CDA.

Here are the companies that received grants:

  • Fruit for Good: A Good Food Collective: Cortez, CO — $17,000 — Fruit Processor
  • WO Investments: Del Norte, CO — $50,000 — Hemp Processor
  • Stagecoach Meat Company: Wiggins, CO — $100,000 — Meat Processor
  • Root Shoot Malting: Berthoud, CO — $65,000 — Barley/Malt Processor 
  • JoJo’s Sriracha: Pueblo, CO — $35,000 — Chile Food Manufacturer 
  • Nola Naturals: Avondale, CO — $20,000 — Poultry Processor
  • Homestead Natural Meats: Delta, CO — $45,000 — Meat Processor