Don Bennett, Founder and Executive Director

Don, a 35-year resident of Fayetteville, Arkansas studied landscape architecture, landscape design and urban horticulture and environmental science at the University of Arkansas. Don likes to quote his dad when he says: “I’m a jack of all trades and master of none!” Don’s career experiences have included operating and managing a small business, maintenance technician of power substations for a local cooperative, appliance sales specialist, grid tied solar and renewable energy applications, to name a few.

Don’s personal experiences with food insecurity and underemployment in the economic downturn led to the founding of Tri Cycle Farms in 2011. He is a natural at forming collaborative, strategic partnerships. In the past six years Don has used this skill to collaborate with community members, like-minded non-profits, local businesses, University of Arkansas student and faculty members, as well as clergy and civic leaders. Don is an accomplished and inspiring public speaker having presented at the TEDxFayetteville conference in March of 2013 and conducted many local and regional news, radio and magazine interviews regarding his experiences with personal transformation, food insecurity, urban agriculture and community building.

Don believes that local and regional food systems and networks are at the very core of greenhouse gas reduction, climate change adaptation, energy and water conservation, underemployment, health disparities and all manner of social injustice. As a means of enacting these strongly held beliefs, for 3 years Don was on the Board of Directors for the OMNI Center for Peace, Justice and Ecology, a 501(c)3 non-profit, the fiscal partner of Tri Cycle Farms from August 2012 till February 2015, when Tri Cycle became a registered non-profit.

In 2013 Don was been a member of the Fayetteville Forward Food Policy Council which researched, wrote, and facilitated community and city council engagement and education in Urban Agriculture. This Food Policy Council was responsible for the eventual passing of an Urban Agriculture Policy for all citizens of the City of Fayetteville. These changes in city code approved in 2014 increased the number of chickens allowed from four to 20, allowed for up to three goats and four bee hives. Don believes that without food sovereignty we cannot have food security.

Don was also a part of the Fayetteville team for an Urban Agricultural Exchange held in Lawrence, Kansas in the summer of 2014. This peer-to-peer exchange shared and defined innovative food systems and policy initiatives between three very similar cities: Fayetteville, AR; Lawrence, KS; and Columbia, MO.

For the last 2 years Don has been a proud board member of Arkansas’ first Energy Improvement District. Establishing the Energy Improvement District in partnership with A2E2, the board has developed a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program for the city of Fayetteville. In the fall of 2015, the first PACE project was rolled out, making Arkansas the 13th state operating a PACE Program in the United States.

Don was also an engaged participant and contributor with Northwest Arkansas Council on a Regional Foods Assessment for four counties in Northwest Arkansas conducted by KARP Resources of New York.