Working at Tri Cycle Farms means learning to expect the unexpected. Sometimes you skip what you had planned for the day to handle unanticipated issues or opportunities. Broken water lines, a gigantic delivery of food that must be processed and delivered to our partners today, or operational limits that require everyone in the office dropping their current projects to ensure they meet the deadline, are not uncommon in the day-to-day activities here.
Sometimes it means that we do what we had planned as well as what we didn’t.
Tuesday, June 19 was a day like that—a day we pulled together and did it all.
The original schedule for that Tuesday included a Yogardening event in the morning, a two-hour field trip with 40 kids in the afternoon and two hours of volunteer garden work in the evening. No big deal. Then Don had an unexpected opportunity to speak to incoming Freshmen at the University of Arkansas Business School and would not be able to lead the afternoon tasting tour and activities with the kids. No problem. Stacy, our volunteer coordinator, has plenty of experience with tasting tours and kids’ activities, but this would be her first time leading one without Don nearby. Fortunately, a few of the AmeriCorps NCCC members serving at Tri Cycle were able to assist.
Further, Don informed the staff late in the afternoon the day before that there would be a film crew on the property because one of our partners and friends, Omar Kasim of Juice Palm, is being featured on a PBS television show. How exciting! We expected the crew around four p.m. that day. Don anticipated returning to the farm in time to greet the crew and Omar. Again, no big deal. The field trip would be over by then and the staff would be available to welcome the crew and assist if Don was late.
Except that the crew showed up early—a half hour before the field trip was over and a couple hours before Don would return. We greeted Omar, met his parents and production crew, and hoped for the best.
As it turns out, the timing was brilliant.
A light breeze brought cooler, less-humid air and a smattering of graying clouds that filtered the harsh, early afternoon sunlight as the kids giggled and exclaimed excitedly when they found items they were looking for on their scavenger hunt in the garden.
While the videographers shot B-roll footage and the audio technician captured ambient sound in the garden, Omar and the director, Raisa Churina, told us a little more about the show and why they were shooting some of it at Tri Cycle Farms.
The program is called Start Up and is featured on PBS nationwide. Host Gary Bredow and the production team travel across the country talking to successful small business owners about their experiences starting their businesses from the ground up. All episodes from through the current ones in season five are available for viewing on the PBS website. They are also available for purchase on startup-usa.com and Amazon Prime.
Omar said that the production company was interested in the startup story of his first business, Con Quesos, a fusion taco restaurant on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. When the Start Up crew heard his Juice Palm story they wanted to include it, and Tri Cycle Farms, in the episode.
Juice Palm uses only USDA-certified organic ingredients and sustainable practices, one of which is composting the juice pulp. Someone recommended he contact Tri Cycle Farms about our compost program and a partnership was born. It was a natural fit. We began picking up 200 pounds of organic juice pulp weekly to add to our organic composting system in January of this year.
Because Omar, his parents and the Start Up crew arrived so much earlier than expected, Stacy offered to leave her field trip group to be interviewed for the program. In Don’s place, she represented Tri Cycle Farms honorably and authentically. Our event coordinator, Claire, assisted by the NCCC members, took over with the kids while Stacy was busy with the production, which included a staged pulp delivery and turning the compost for B-roll footage.
Unfortunately, in real life the compost program at Tri Cycle Farms is on pause due to the Farm’s capacity issues. For the program to be sustainable, we really need a truck and regular volunteers to make the twice weekly pickups of the heavy pulp containers. Further, we currently do not have anyone to lead the compost program and with Arkansas GardenCorps taking the 2018-2019 year off, we won’t even have a service member to assist.
Omar, who currently composts with another program, insists that there is a way for the program to continue at Tri Cycle Farms. He suggested finding a fraternity that could adopt the program and provide both the trucks and the manpower to keep it going. He is even considering delivering the pulp himself. He will soon be opening a second Juice Palm store in Bentonville where all the pressing for both locations will take place, and he thinks he may be able to deliver the pulp to Tri Cycle Farms when he delivers juice to the Fayetteville store.
Regardless of the current state of our composting program, we are honored to be a part of Omar’s Start Up story, both for the television show, and in real life. And we are so proud that he is part of Tri Cycle Farms’ story. It is vital to have partners with similar values and missions, and we certainly have that with Omar. We are excited to find a way to get the compost program running again so we can continue to grow community through soil together.