Producer Feature: Cindy Tolle & Evergreen Ranch & Livestock
In June, 2019 SDSPA appointed Cindy Tolle to the Board of Directors. Cindy brings a wealth of expertise to the organization. Cindy has degrees in Biology & Chemistry, Microbial Ecology, and a PhD in Chemistry & Biochemistry. She has taught biology courses at both the secondary and university levels. Cindy is also a producer of grass-fed beef and bison and is an advocate for growing markets for locally grown and processed meat.
Cindy owns Evergreen Ranch & Livestock LLC, which encompasses several large ranches in South Dakota (Hermosa and Hot Springs), New Mexico, and Mexico. Their family operation focuses on raising bison and Criollo cattle, a heritage breed, “the long-horn breed that settled the west.” The Spanish brought the first Criollo cattle to the Americas in the 1400’s and today they can be found from Patagonia to northern Canada. Ecologically, the Criollo breed is good on the land while also being good mothers. They are also docile in temperament and have a longer life span than modern breeds. According to Cindy, “The meat is great and the cost of production per pound of meat is much less than other breeds. The meat is better because the cattle are finished on grass or rangeland.”
Cindy endeavors to provide great tasting beef and bison, while also caring for the land and has actively been involved in large landscape conservation for 20 plus years. Evergreen Ranch is involved in a long-term study with the USDA La Jornado Experimental Range/New Mexico State University along with many other collaborators.
Cindy cares about local food producers and notes, “Markets are essential for producers. Commercial producers have a feedlot market for their cattle which is well established through sale barns, feedlots, etc. Grass-fed, grass-finished producers are not so fortunate. Getting markets and producers together is crucial for success. SDSPA can help do that.”
By producing and buying locally, money stays in the neighborhood. One of Cindy’s biggest clients is Rapid City Regional Hospital. Recently, Cindy brought together local meat producers to coordinate the purchase of Sturgis Meats to ensure local producers retain a local processing facility. Now, “Every package of meat that the hospital buys helps to pay wages at Sturgis Meat Service. This helps local producers financially by providing processing for their local market.”
Cindy is looking forward to the opportunity to serve on the SDSPA board. “SDSPA is an innovative group in South Dakota and gets things done. I enjoy the people and the mission and am excited to be a part of it and do what I can to help producers in the state.”
SDSPA welcomes Cindy to the Board of Directors. Her innovative entrepreneurial skills and passion for the local food economy will help serve other producers throughout our state and region.