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February 3, 2018 was a big "first" for Tri Cycle Farms. Stakeholders including board members, volunteers, and community members gathered at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville for a pasta dinner and celebration of the Farms' successes in 2017 and presentation of its goals for 2018. Chef James Cohea of local non-profit group Food Not Bombs along with several of the group’s volunteers, prepared the meal made completely from either donated or recovered food. Ozark Natural Foods donated items and the recovered food came from Tri Cycle Farms' Food Recovery Program Partner Whole Foods Market, Fayetteville.

Tri Cycle Farms and Food Not Bombs volunteers prepare for the meal and presentation.
After the meal and welcome address, Executive Director Don Bennett presented Volunteer of the Year awards for 2017. Delilah Clark received the 2016/2017 Service Member Volunteer award; Bobby Morell received the 2017 Volunteer of the Year award and University of Arkansas student organization Full Stomachs, Clean Feet, which fights hunger and homelessness, received the 2017 Volunteer Group of the Year for their City Chicks project.

Delilah Clark

Bobby Morell

Full Stomachs, Clean Feet

Next, Don introduced the board and announced officer changes and new members. Ashley Stone and Justin Taylor are the new board president and vice-president, respectively. Diana Chen and A.B. Merritt are the two new board members. Other members include Kelly Bassemier, Treasurer and Heather Friedrich, Secretary.

Ashley Stone (right) and Justin Taylor (center)

Diana Chen

A.B. Merritt

Finally, before the presentation of the Tri Cycle Farms 2017 Annual Report, Don introduced the Americorps VISTA and Arkansas GardenCorps service volunteer staff: Claire Marie Cosmos, Katie Wright, Stacy Mackey Kimbrough, Roxanne Wood, Carly Harris, and Peter Marston.

The day was cold.

The high temperature in Fayetteville, Arkansas on Martin Luther King Jr. National Day of Service was 24 degrees with 11 mile an hour winds. We didn't expect many people to come out and volunteer this year because of how cold it was. The Freedom March at the University of Arkansas had been moved indoors. It was snowing in Bentonville. The Tri Cycle Farms staff showed up and hoped for the best. One thing was for certain, it was the perfect day for soup!

The Weather Didn't Stop Us!

People came individually, in groups, and with families.  Some met for the first time.  Others were reunited in community service.

Over 50 people volunteered at Tri Cycle Farms and Trinity United Methodist Church, both on indoor and outdoor projects. What a great turn out and together we were able to accomplish so much!

AT TRI CYCLE FARMS

We cleared brush and debris from the drainage path from our farm to the creek, allowing better drainage through the neighborhood.

We mulched around the newly fenced chicken fortress, covering the chicken wire on the ground (protection from diggers) and creating a walking path. 

We winterized the remaining garden beds, the market garden and spare others. 

AT TRINITY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

We raked and picked up fallen limbs and trash from Trinity's main yard and mulched the oak trees in that yard.

We sorted and prepared seeds from last year's garden for this spring's planting and sharing. 

AND AFTERWARD: STONE SOUP

We shared a community meal from food recovery, Ozark Natural Foods, Rockin' Baker, and prepared by Food Not Bombs. Here are a few words from Don:

MORE PHOTOs FROM THE DAY

Another way people honored the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday was helping out at Tri Cycle Farms.

Source: Volunteers Clean Garden at Tri Cycle Farms for Martin Luther King

 A year after beginning a consistent schedule of picking up food and commodity items from Whole Foods Market three days a week, the program expanded to five days. Click here to read about food insecurity, waste, and the beginning of our food recovery program. In general, we have five volunteers per day to transport, sort and deliver the items to our partners, which include LifeSource International, Seeds That Feed and 7Hills Homeless Center. Most days we can get it all in two SUVs, but occasionally we need three to four SUVs to transport all the items we recover in a safe and timely manner.   

Photos by JT Wampler, NWA Democrat Gazette

Photos by Claire Marie Cosmos

Working the Food Recovery Program brings a mixed bag of emotions for volunteers, most of whom are food insecure themselves. Tri Cycle Farms’ third share initiative ensures they also have access to the recovered food and commodities. The excitement and relief from having access to high quality, healthy food that would ordinarily be out of budget is equaled and often surpassed by feelings of exhilaration that come from helping others as well as the, sometimes overwhelming, sadness that there is such a need in our community.

 Last month Tri Cycle Farms was awarded a grant from Whole Cities Foundation that will assist in the efforts to meet that need. We applied for the grant, which is for $5000, on the advisement of the Community Liaison at Whole Foods Market Fayetteville, Allison Chilcote. Allison has been a great help to Tri Cycle Farms and we really appreciate her support and that of Whole Foods Market.

Photo by Claire Marie Cosmos

 

The funds from the Whole Cities Foundation grant will help purchase a 6 X 12 double axle refrigerated trailer that will be used to transport the recovered food instead of using personal vehicles. We feel this trailer is the best way to address any potential food safety concerns, to reduce our carbon footprint, and to save wear and tear on our own personal vehicles. One trip with this trailer is all it will take to collect and transport everything we recover from Whole Foods Market.

But the trailer is only part of the equation. We will also need a four-door truck with the capacity to pull the loaded trailer and to carry up to four volunteers. The grant will cover about half the cost of the trailer, so we still need to match those funds and find sponsors to raise enough money to also buy the truck.

In the meantime, we are so pleased with the community partnerships we have developed through the growth of this program. Our newest Food Recovery Program partners include The Historic St. James Missionary Baptist Church pantry, Food Not Bombs, and Washington Elementary after school garden club.

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We wanted to send a short and sweet note to thank you - our community.  YOU are the drivers of Food Security in Northwest Arkansas!.  Recovering food and distributing it to those who desperately need it, would not be possible with out you.  Thank you for all that you do – we hope you have an amazing day!

One last reminder – please email or Tweet us (@TriCycleFarms) your #UnSelfie photos and videos.  We will be sharing them all day on Facebook, so please be in touch and let us see your beautiful faces!

Here we go!

The #TriCycleFarms Team

Want to help Tri Cycle Farms feed more of your at-risk neighbors? Doubling your donation from matching gifts is simple and easy! We know many of you generous donors work for companies with matching gift programs, and those matching gifts will enable us to expand our capacity and feed more people!

Simply go to https://doublethedonation.com/giving-tuesday/ and enter your company’s name. DoubleTheDonation will provide you with as much of the following as possible: Up-to-date company policies; Minimum volunteer hours required; Printed forms or links to the online submission process – And Tri Cycle’s contact information, Tax ID, address,  and fundraising contact.

If your company isn’t listed, make sure to check with HR as there are many additional companies out there who offer volunteer grant programs. We wish we could submit the required form for you, but unfortunately the employee must submit it. We appreciate you taking a couple of minutes to double your donation and feed the hungry in your community!!

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