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Townsend, Sutherland farms near Aztec are both boasting a successful chile crop this year

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times

AZTEC — People wanting to buy locally-grown chile are in luck. Both Sutherland and Townsend farms in the Aztec area are reporting good harvests.

A steady stream of customers visited both farms on Sept. 5 to purchase locally-grown produce.

“Chile is kind of maturing faster than normal,” said Allen Sutherland.

He said some of it is already turning red, which may be because of the hot August temperatures.

The popular Big Jims as well as other chiles like the Animas Medium Hot can be purchased at Sutherland Farms Market from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Meanwhile, Townsend Farms has its roadside stand open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Troy Bible prepares to roast green chile, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, at Townsend Farms.

Both locations allow customers to purchase a bushel of green chile, however only Townsend is roasting the chile on site. Sutherland has roasted chile available to purchase, but this year customers cannot purchase the bushel and have it roasted while they wait. However, Allen Sutherland’s son, Bobby Sutherland, attends the Durango, Colorado, farmers market on Saturdays and roasts chiles there.

Allen Sutherland explained that it is hard to find labor and this year the family decided to cut back. In addition to not roasting chile at the farm, they reduced the chile production. Instead of planting 10 acres of chile, Sutherland Farms planted two acres.

Meanwhile, Townsend Farms has been expanding its chile production, according to Cheryl Townsend-Woods, who was helping customers pick up the bags of roasted green chile they had ordered on Sept. 5.

Green chile are displayed, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, at Sutherland Farms in Aztec.

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“It’s gone really, really well,” she said about this year’s harvest. “We’ve got lots of chile. Lots of big, meaty chile.”

Both farms have food trucks set up on site. On Sept. 5, Mama Foster’s was selling hamburgers with green chile at Townsends Farms. Meanwhile, Sutherland Farms has the Purple Cow Kafe, which also includes locally grown chile in its offerings.

And the farms feature more than just chile. A variety of produce including squash, sweet corn and okra can be found at the Sutherland Farms Market or at Townsend Farm’s stand along U.S. Highway 550.

While the annual chile festival has been cancelled this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Sutherlands are still hopeful that the farm can host the pumpkin festival.

Troy Bible pours roasted green chiles into a bag, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020, at Townsend Farms.

Sutherland said the farm planted crops the same as it has done in the past, including a corn maze.

“Who knew in April what was going to come of this?” Sutherland said, adding that people still don’t know the future of the pandemic.

But the pumpkins are already turning orange, or other colors depending on the variety, and Sutherland said there will be a good selection for people to pick.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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