Local Food Hero: Jenelle Syverson

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By Rose Chavez | Food System/Food Equity Coalition

Healthy Archuleta, a local nonprofit in Archuleta County also known as the FSFE — Food Coalition, continues to celebrate the local food heroes that make up the food system in Archuleta County and the surrounding southwest region. 

These individuals uniquely contribute to the community’s vision for a sustainable, health promoting and equitable local food system so that everyone has access to affordable, nutritious foods. 

The effort to capture the profiles of these integral community members was initiated as part of the Archuleta Food System Summit that took place April 9. 

Today we would like to feature Jenelle Syverson. The following is a narrative that she shared with us: 

“We are a specialty food manufacturer and retailer that specializes in Choke Cherry products (which can only be wild sourced) along with other jams, jellies, fruit butters, fruit syrups, vinaigrettes, salsas, sauces, fruit tarts and confections that include old fashioned caramels, hand dipped chocolates, fudge and almond toffee. While we love innovating with new creations, our innovations live where simple, classic techniques integrate integral processes and ingredients with nostalgic recipes and trending delights.

“I started as temporary seasonal help while I was pregnant with my son. After he was born, I took caramel home and hand wrapped it until he was about 6 months old and then he came to work on my back when they needed help in the store and I was taught how to do all the cooking. The company started in Pagosa Springs as a fruit stand operated by “grandpa Bill” and he used the over ripe fruits for his jams and butters. His passion for making jams and jellies was a lifelong love of his when his grandmother taught him how to make jam as a teenager. He passed that wisdom onto me and our missions officially merged when I bought the business after working for him and his partner for over 10 years so that I could be the type of single mother I wanted to be with the freedom to be there for my son’s childhood.

“Today, ‘I’ has become ‘we’ as a team at The Choke Cherry Tree. Our deepest appreciation is that food is culture and connection — connection to our health, our home, our family and friends, our past, our present and our future. It is how we feed love into our community and ourselves as we recognize that there is a deeper connection along with really good flavors. While we have weathered the same challenges as other long standing businesses with changing technology and communication styles, employment environments, shifting supply availability and daily life in general, we have seen the opportunities that each situation brings. That is how we have built a worldwide and multigenerational clientele that return for the joy we have created for well over 20 years now evolved into a resource to reach and connect people with food and culture while sustaining and supporting employees with the same beliefs and energetic values. Most recently, we have been able to expand our magic to craft all natural healthy alternatives from our nostalgic recipes to support even more dietary needs. Thank you for being a part of that with us!” 

If you have questions, please contact us at fsfearchuleta@gmail.org or (401) 371-3227. To donate to support the work of Healthy Archuleta, please visit our website, https://www.foodcoalition4archuleta.org/donate.html.