NAPI celebrates its harvest, thanks customers

Hannah Grover

FARMINGTON — Navajo Agricultural Products Industry celebrated its harvest by welcoming customers to its Region 2 scales today as part of customer appreciation day.

Erik Lopez, 11, left, and Aaliyah Williams, 6, right, wait in line for drinks after getting baked potatoes during NAPI's customer appreciation day on Saturday at the company's Region 2 scales south of Farmington.

During the event, NAPI reduced prices on its crops and raffled off prizes such as six ewes. The company also served more than 3,000 free baked potatoes.

Customer appreciation day attracted thousands of people to NAPI. The event featured live music, raffles and games for children. People could also drive through the facility and have the pinto beans, corn, potatoes, alfalfa and grains loaded into their cars.

A total of 53 boxes of potatoes were baked, and NAPI employees served the food and loaded up trucks and cars.

"We gad a great harvest," said Amanda Kerr, the manager of the potato crop. "We had a very interesting year."

Customers Gary and Theresa Nelson get some help from NAPI employee Leland Joe, left, during customer appreciation day on Saturday at the company's Region 2 scales south of Farmington.

A break in a siphon on the water delivery system caused NAPI not to plant about 5,000 acres this year, CEO Wilton Charley said.

"We did suffer some yield loss, but that's what we anticipated," he said.

NAPI usually begins planting in April, and the siphon broke on May 13. Repairs were completed about a month later. Charley said the lack of water at the beginning of the planting season led to crop losses, as well as stunted growth.

But Charley said he was impressed by how NAPI employees responded to the siphon break.

"It was very humbling to see how much (the siphon break) has brought us together," he said.

NAPI employees get ready to load a vehicle with potatoes and pinto beans during the company's customer appreciation day on Saturday at its Region 2 scales south of Farmington.

Despite the loss, NAPI officials remained optimistic about the future as they celebrated customer appreciation day.

"The farm is the Navajo Nation people's farm," Charley said. "We don't take that lightly."

Rae DeGroat, a spokeswoman for NAPI, said the event started small about a decade ago.

"It seems like every year it really grows," she said.

As NAPI celebrated the harvest, officials also are looking toward changes in the future.

A visitor gets her baked potato garnished during customer appreciation day on Saturday at the NAPI Region 2 scales south of Farmington.

Charley said the company has plans for diversifying its crops, such as adding vegetables, as well as some organic products.

 Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.