Be in the know, you know

Food Insecurity

This Innovative Organization Eliminates Food Waste and Addresses Food Insecurity

Seeds that Feed's goal is to "bridge the gap between food waste, food insecurity and barriers to healthier eating ─ creating communities where anyone can access the foods that inspire them to lead healthier lives.

Guest post and photography by Mallory Lane

I consider myself pretty lucky to know Margaret and Alyssa since they're such awesome people, but seeing them grow Seeds that Feed (STF) over the last couple of years has been truly amazing.

The Story of Seeds That Feed

According to Feeding America, more than 6 billion pounds of fruits and vegetables go unharvested or unsold each year, and an estimated 40% of food grown, processed and transported in the US will never be consumed. Each week, one in four Northwest Arkansas residents are unsure of where their next meal will come from, with 65,900 of the food insecure residing in Benton (31,160) and Washington (34,740) Counties.

Since beginning their quest to address disparities between food waste and food insecurity in March 2012, STF has collected over 130,000 lbs of locally grown produce from 71 Northwest Arkansas farms, as well as over 30,000 lbs of recovered foods from area retailers ─ redistributing it to 44 sites and programs serving food insecure individuals in the region. Each year, more than 30,000 low-income families, seniors, and differently-abled residents receive access to healthier foods through the pantries, community meals, and housing establishments currently served by the STF network.

In 2015, STF began piloting the Mobile Food Network in Washington County, with expansion into Benton County in 2016 with generous support from the Walmart Foundation. Offering direct mobile services, STF met individuals where they were - providing access to healthier foods and nutrition education in low-income housing complexes, senior residential centers, and other centralized food insecure populations via a retrofitted box truck turned walk-in pantry. By coming to recipients, STF is able to meet target populations who may have never sought out assistance; subsequently breaking down barriers, opening dialogue, and presenting opportunities for systematic change.

Current plans to be implemented due to findings by the Community and Family Institute's program evaluation (2017-2018):

  • In order to create easier access to the produce we deliver, STF will use funds from the Walmart Foundation's NWA Giving program to set up food stations in lower-income communities throughout Northwest Arkansas. Food stations will be permanent, roofed wooden farm stands that will allow for ease of delivery in places like Morgan Manor and Willow Heights apartment complexes that will receive deliveries weekly to bi-weekly during the growing season. "It is our hope that more residents will have access to fresh fruits and veggies by increasing the hours of availability in targeted communities," said Margaret Thomas, Chief Feeder for Seeds That Feed. "Because of the limited hours most pantries are open, many community members experiencing food insecurity are not able to get food for themselves and their families while working an 8-5 job."
  • STF has also incorporated an online application to delve deeper into the data that is collected from recipients and recipient sites served. It allows STF to have all data in a highly usable format that reflects what regions the food is going to and houses data collected from which farm produce was donated from, type of produce and amount donated each day, who volunteered and where the produce was delivered. An SMS text-in system was added in order to inform recipients of where and when mobile pantries occur throughout the growing season. The text-in option enables STF to obtain data directly from recipients about how those served are using it, what fruits and veggies each site is more likely to eat, and/or whether they were able to eat what they took. " It is our mission to make sure that no produce is going to waste but also to better understand those we are serving," said Margaret Thomas.
  • STF is also increasing fundraising objectives in the current year in hopes of increasing their small staff. They are currently piloting a fundraising program that launched last November titled, Seeds That Feed — The Home. As a small nonprofit, they've found that more intimate 'house-party' type fundraisers give them the opportunity to really meet and engage people while serving up tasty morsels paired with local brews and great wine. Contact margaret@seedsfeed.org and them know if you are interested in hosting one.
A few weeks ago I followed Margaret and a couple of volunteers to the Fayetteville Farmer's Market to collect surplus produce from the local farmers and deliver it to those in need around the city.

Volunteer with Seeds That Feed at a Local Farmers' Market!

At the end of the farmers' market in both Fayetteville and Bentonville, local farmers donate their extra veggies to Seeds That Feed to be distributed to those in need throughout Northwest Arkansas. The team weighs, logs, and categorizes all of the donations on the square. Several organizations then meet them on the square to pick up veggies for their pantries and community meals and the rest of the produce is then delivered out to lower income communities and other pantries around Benton County and Washington County.

As part of the WalmartGivesNWA campaign, if you choose to do some "carecropping" (volunteering) with Seeds That Feed at either farmers' market the organization will earn $10 for each hour of service. To get involved in Bentonville visit HERE. To get involved in Fayetteville visit HERE.

Connect with Seeds That Feed

Environment

Get Outside and Give Back: Land Conservation, Farming, and Food Recovery

Internships at the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust, unique volunteer opportunities with Seeds That Feed, board vacancies at Tri Cycle Farms, and a job opening at Cobblestone Farms.

Cover photo by Mallory Lane Photography

We recently came across several opportunities to get involved with some our favorite local nonprofits, and you'll recognize a common thread—all are about spending some quality time outdoors.

Three Internship Positions at the Northwest Arkansas Land Trust

Do you know of or are you a college student working in education, environmental studies, communications, or nonprofit management? The Northwest Arkansas Land Trust is looking for 3 individuals to join their team as an Environmental Education Intern, Land Stewardship Intern, and Communications & Development Intern.

From giving field trips at the Kessler Mountain Outdoor Classroom and Nature Center to helping monitor over 3,500 acres of conservation lands to helping spread the word about this work—the Fall internships run from August 26th to November 29th.

Now in its 16th year, NWALT is the region's only local and accredited land trust, dedicated to enhancing quality of life through the permanent protection of land. By holding and managing donated land and providing conservation easement services, the land trust protects water quality, local farms, wildlife habitat, and places for outdoor recreation while enhancing quality of life for today and future generations. The service area of the land trust includes 13 counties in Northwest Arkansas, with a core focus on Benton and Washington counties.

Learn more about the internships HERE.

CareCropping with Seeds That Feed

At the end of the farmers' market in both Fayetteville and Bentonville, local farmers donate their extra veggies to Seeds That Feed to be distributed to those in need throughout Northwest Arkansas. The team weighs, logs, and categorizes all of the donations on the square. Several organizations then meet them on the square to pick up veggies for their pantries and community meals and the rest of the produce is then delivered out to lower income communities and other pantries around Benton County and Washington County.

As part of the WalmartGivesNWA campaign, if you choose to do some "carecropping" (volunteering) with Seeds That Feed at either farmers' market the organization will earn $10 for each hour of service. To get involved in Bentonville visit HERE. To get involved in Fayetteville visit HERE.

Seeds That Feed's mission is to help grow healthier communities by providing access to healthier foods. Through the collection and distribution of surplus fresh produce ─ from area farmers directly to local hunger relief efforts ─ they are able to both increase access to under resourced populations, as well as help to eliminate waste.

Board of Directors at Tri Cycle Farms

Are you passionate about food waste and food security? Have you wanted to get involved with an urban farm or food recovery but not known how? Tri Cycle Farms is actively seeking a community member to become their board treasurer. If you or someone you know is interested, shoot an email to volunteer@tricyclefarms.org. General board members are needed as well, so spread the word!

If you are interested in learning more about what they do and how to get involved, they are hosting a Summer Open House on Saturday, July 20th! This open house is FREE and open to the public. Food and snacks will be available as you stroll through the gardens, lounge in the shade and enjoy the delights of their farm-park atmosphere! Their staff and board members will be available to answer questions.

Tri Cycle Farms is a community urban farm working to address food insecurity by growing food and teaching others to grow food. They have a beautiful, productive garden on 2 acres of land in the heart of Fayetteville.

Hiring: Farm Specialist at Cobblestone Farms

Did you know Cobblestone Farms, located in Fayetteville, donates 50% of fresh grown produce on their farm to hunger relief efforts in Northwest Arkansas? Their mission is to grow fresh food locally so they can support and teach the community the role fresh food has on health, wellness and a sustainable future.

They are currently seeking a Farm Specialist to assist in all farm production goals. This position requires knowledge in farming, high tunnel production, pest management, orchard management, plant production, fertilization management and vegetable production practices. Daily tasks include harvesting, pruning, cleaning tools, recording data, planting, seeding, fertilizing, weeding, mulching and composting. To learn more and apply visit HERE.

Active Lifestyle

Beyond the Board: An Interview with the NW Arkansas Skateboarding Foundation

The Northwest Arkansas Skateboarding Foundation mission is to grow and support the regional skateboarding community.

The Northwest Arkansas Skateboarding Foundation was founded in late 2018 by skateboarders for skateboarders. The founding team includes Roy Rodezno, Wesley McDonald (owner of Stash Skate Supply), Brandon Herbert (co-founder of Gnarkansas.com), and Jonathan Camacho. We recently sat down with Roy to learn more about the organization. Check out the interview below.

Founder Roy Rodezno, President/Design & Marketing

Q: Ok Roy, let's take it from the top, why did you create the organization and what is the mission?

I've been skateboarding for 17 years. Brandon, Jonathan, and I grew up skateboarding in Northwest Arkansas; Jonathan and I used to skateboard on the same block in Rogers. We were primarily street skating because during those days the closest skatepark was in Bentonville and we didn't have a car.

Brandon Herbert, Audio Visual Director/Events Coordinator

Later on, a skate shop came to Rogers, and that is where all of the local skateboarders would go hang out. I remember when we started attending city meetings when they were considering adding the Rogers skatepark and saying, 'We want this park; we need it.' And it worked, we got it.

We had a lot of skaters back in the day. You'd go to the skatepark, and it would be crowded. Now, not so much. Compared to my generation, it seems like the number of skaters has diminished quite a bit.

Local Competition in 2012

Recently, I've been seeing and hearing from other skaters that there isn't support for skateboarding; it's all going toward biking. But that's because people are pushing for that. For years now, I've been hearing things like 'Man, I wish we had a new park' from people in Fayetteville. If you go there, there are cracks. In Bentonville, skateboarders are expressing the same frustrations. If we had an organized voice for skateboarding, we could probably achieve the same thing as the cycling community.

All that together kinda just brewed in my head and popped up as: 'We need an organization that can represent skateboarders as a whole.' We want to represent current and future skaters.

The mission is to grow and support skateboarding in Northwest Arkansas. To organize and to show people that we're serious. This is who we are, and we are here for the long run.

Q: In the short-term, what are your plans?

One of the first things we wanted to do is launch a skateboarding competition. Every now and then there are competitions, but once they are over, everyone is left wondering what's next. We thought: 'What if, instead, we did multiple stops and a final for the crown?' That's when we landed on the idea for the Arkansas Crown, Arkansas' first skateboarding championship competition. There were a lot of skaters I talked to who believed that that would be cool, that they would be interested in it.

Anthony Dezaldivar Longest Ollie at Bentonville Crown Stop

So, we planned six stops: five competitions and then the final. Four of the stops are located within the region, one in Fort Smith and one in Little Rock. We had the first one on May 25th, 2019 at the Bentonville Skatepark. It was an excellent turnout, a lot of people came out. The next stop in Northwest Arkansas will be on August 11th in Fayetteville, you all should come check it out.

NWASF Arkansas Crown Skateboarding Championship // Stop 1: Bentonville // Highlights

There was this guy that competed in Bentonville, 19 years old named Niccy. I believe he just started skating last year. It was his first competition ever, and he got first place in the beginner's competition. He was like: 'Man, this was the first one; I've never done this before.' That's skateboarding: it makes you try things you have never tried before. It pushes you to go outside your limits. And if you fail, you fail. But then you get back up and try it again⁠—the same goes in life. This is what it is all about.

Niccy's boardslide at Bentonville Crown Stop

Q: Skateboarding for life?

Yes. Look, we all have things going on in our lives. Whether it's family problems, addiction issues, or things like that. A lot of us skateboard to vent that—redirect and channel that energy. I know I did. I made skateboarding my life, and during any negative times I would tell myself: "Skate for life," and that would help me refocus and overcome.

Q: Can you share more about that personal experience?

When I was younger, I got in trouble. Just dumb stuff. I fell into depression, and it took me a while to figure out what the problem was. In truth, it was a lot of things. Around that same time, my parents got divorced. It was tough, and I had a lot of anger built up, but skateboarding was always there. I would go skate, and I would feel better. Ultimately, the skateboarding mentality just kicked in, and I said: 'OK, what's the problem?' That's what you do in skateboarding. You're not accomplishing a particular thing; it's not going right over and over. So you think to yourself, what are you doing that's wrong? Why isn't my board doing what I want it to do? It may take a few times to figure it out, but eventually, you figure it out. And that's how I started getting back on track. It's because of skateboarding. That problem-solving, motivation, self-discipline, and persistence that skateboarding requires helped me get back on the right path.

Yes, we are grinding, jumping off stairs and stuff, but we are focused. Once a skateboarder sets their mind on a trick, they'll try anything to pull it off. And that keeps their mind off of other things, other patterns that may get them in trouble. That is the underlying thing about skateboarding not many people consider, the impact it has on a person. It really makes you self-disciplined and self-motivated, goal-oriented and a creative problem-solver 'cause you're fighting against physics: 'Maybe I can pull my foot back; less pressure this way.'

Wesley McDonald, Events Director/Content Curator

We know there are kids out there going through some of the same things we, as an older generation, have been through. So, definitely mentoring is part of what we'd like to do. As an organization, we want to be there to tell them: 'Keep skating, dude. I've been there. It gets better. Just keep your mind positive'. Programs like that are gonna help us all stay connected.

Q: Other than events and mentorship, are there other ways you want to get people engaged?

Yes. This was just our way to get our foot in the door and show who we are. Our most ambitious goal is our campaign to raise $500,000 for a new, state-of-the-art skatepark, located near the Razorback Greenway, with unique modern obstacle levels of street/transition to not only challenge skaters but also upgrade from our older existing parks that are falling apart. It would be cool, you know, you walk on the trail and see this natural skate garden. Right now, our parks are outdated in terms of the obstacles. But imagine if you had more creative obstacles—if you had something that challenged skaters more. Skateboarding is now included in the Olympics, Tokyo 2020. We believe with the proper facility, we could have one of Northwest Arkansas' own compete in the Olympics.

Ultimately, we would also like to have back-to-school and Christmas drives to collect donations of gear and shoes for youth. With skateboarding, you go through your shoes, clothes, and boards a lot. We don't just want to inspire kids, we want to keep them skating.

Q: Anything else you want to say about skateboarding or skateboarders in the region?

Jonathan Camacho (Construction Director/Content Editor) and son

Beyond the board, I would point out two things. One, there is a strong case to be made that skate parks are a good economic development tool for cities. Skateboarders are travelers at heart. Nice skate parks would bring in folks from beyond the region. Many of us from Northwest Arkansas head to neighboring states like Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas to skate their parks and now, when I go there, I take my twins and wife, so we usually shop, buy food and gas, and get a hotel. And two, skaters tend to have an entrepreneurial/self-starter mindset, which also has an economic impact on the community with many of us having started or starting local businesses.

Bentonville Crown Winners

There are so many different types of skateboarders out there. Overall, it's a socially diverse and accepting group of people. Whenever I first brought my wife to skating, one of the first things she said she noticed is that we're all supportive of each other. You may not know me, and I may not know you, but if you're trying a tough trick or any trick and you're struggling to do it and need that motivation, it's just like automatic—you just cheer them on. All skaters seem to have similar traits: they have an open mind, they are self-motivated and goal-oriented. So you'll see people of different races, backgrounds, ages because it really doesn't matter. Once you're there at the skatepark with your board, eventually you just become like family.

Learn more at nwaskateboarding.org

Community

Fayetteville: What Is Your Perspective on Refugees in NW Arkansas?

Canopy Northwest Arkansas is seeking local feedback to understand the public's perception and awareness of refugees in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

In collaboration with a student from the Clinton School of Public Service, Canopy Northwest Arkansas is gathering data on the community's perspective and awareness of refugees in the region. The information will be used to help the organization assess how well they are educating the community and where they need to do more work. The survey should only take 10-15 minutes to complete and once complete, they encourage folks to share the survey with family, friends, neighbors, and other groups located in our area.

TAKE THE SURVEY HERE

An Invitation

Join our Community of Welcome!

Canopy is also inviting interested community members to join their "Community of Welcome". The Community of Welcome is a core group of community members who've committed to helping Canopy realize their vision of refugees and our community thriving together. Those that sign up to be a regular monthly giver, will become a key supporter of the Long Welcome Plan.

Currently, Canopy's services are almost entirely limited to the families' first 90-180 days in the country. But their vision is for refugees to thrive here and they know they can't expect to see that happen if they're only serving them for 90-180 days. With this in mind, over the next 3-5 years, they are committing to rolling out a series of programs and services that will ensure refugee families have the assistance they need for up to 5 full years after arrival.

The Long Welcome Blueprint

To learn more about the Long Welcome Plan, visit HERE.

To join the Community of Welcome, visit HERE.

OTHER WAYS TO CONNECT WITH CANOPY

Food Insecurity

Northwest Arkansas: Growing Community, One Garden at a Time

Tri Cycle Farms, Cobblestone Farms, the Apple Seeds Teaching Farm, and the Springdale Community Garden Hub are starting to come alive with opportunities to get involved.

The benefits of community gardens are seemingly without end; they increase access to fresh foods, improve food security, encourage physical activity, reduce stress, etc.—but above all, community gardens have a way of gathering people of all ages and backgrounds, planting the seeds of neighborliness, and reminding us that we are all in this together. Here are few places you can get your hands in the dirt and have an impact on food sovereignty in Northwest Arkansas.

Tri Cycle Farms

Tri Cycle Farms will be hosting a Potato and Spring Crop Planting Workday on March 23rd from 10AM-2PM. They will be planting potatoes and onions in the Main Garden and preparing beds for summer crops. They'll also be planting kale, broccoli, cauliflower, peas onions, radish, beets other spring veggies in the Market Garden!

If you do not know the story of how Tri Cycle Farms started, check out this recent profile of it's Founder and Executive Director, Don Bennett, in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette HERE.

The farm is located at 1705 N. Garland Ave, Fayetteville, Arkansas.


Cobblestone Farms

Join Cobblestone Farms for their Spring Brassica Planting Party on Wednesday, March 27th from 1PM-5PM. Help them plant thousands of cabbage, broccoli, and collard seedlings for their upcoming Spring season. This is one of many opportunities to lend a hand out at the farm and a chance to learn more about Cobblestone Farms.

If you can't make it on March 27th, there is a second opportunity to spend An Afternoon at the Farm on Saturday, April 20th from 2PM-5PM. They will be planting, harvesting, weeding, and prepping for their Late Spring season. This will be a huge event filled with projects big and small.

You can also support them by signing up for their Community Supported Agriculture program. Through this program you get to pick up local seasonal vegetables weekly. In return for your subscription, Cobblestone Farms is able to donate 50% of their fresh grown produce to hunger relief efforts in Northwest Arkansas. In 2018, they were able to grow over 12,000 lbs of fresh produce.

The farm is located at 1210 54th St, Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Apple Seeds Teaching Farm

In 2015, Apple Seeds found its home on 2-acres of land at Gulley Park in Fayetteville. The Teaching Farm was established at Gulley Park thanks to a collaboration with the City of Fayetteville to lease those 2 acres to Apple Seeds until the year 2035!

In just 2 short years Apple Seeds turned this field into a Teaching Farm and opened its gates to students in 2017. Home to a Teaching Kitchen, an orchard, production gardens and a variety of gardens, the Teaching Farm is a place for students to learn, cook, share healthy meals together, and be inspired to do the same in their kitchens.

Each summer, Apple Seeds hosts the The Kids' Table, a week of half day summer camps at the Teaching Farm. Campers (ages 7-15 years old) will spend the week at the farm gardening, harvesting fresh ingredients, and making a garden fresh lunch inside their Teaching Kitchen. If you are interested, they are still a few slots available this year! Check out the four upcoming sessions taking place during the month of June HERE.

Also, feel free to explore or lend a hand on the farm each Saturday from 9AM-12PM during their open garden hours. Volunteers are also invited to apply to become a regular garden volunteer HERE. Last year, more than 350 volunteers and interns spent 2,681 hours contributing to Apple Seeds' mission. Learn more about their impact in their 2018 Annual Report, which can be found HERE.

The farm is located at 2648 N. Old Wire Road, Fayetteville Arkansas.

Springdale Community Garden Hub

On the first Saturday of each month from 10AM-12PM, Feed Communities hosts Gardening 101 Demo, Gardening Q&A, and casual conversations at their Springdale Community Garden Hub. They will be doing a different gardening 101 topic each month. The events are free and open to all ages! Learn more HERE.

The garden is located at the intersection of Mill St & W Center St in Springdale (behind the American Legion building). For inquires or directions, please call (479) 966-4790 or email nevans@feedcommunities.org.

See you in the garden(s)!

Children & Youth

Local Kids On A Mission to End Homelessness

The 7Hills Youth Council is a group of kids working under the auspices of 7Hills Homeless Center to help end homelessness in Northwest Arkansas.

We recently caught up with an inspiring group of local youth (ages 5-13) working together to impact one of the toughest social problems affecting our community—homelessness. Check out the Q & A below.

Please introduce yourselves.

We're the 7 Hills Youth Council, and we want to help create functional zero in Northwest Arkansas. Reaching functional zero would mean there are no consistent populations of people who are homeless—and that when someone does find themselves out of a home due to unfortunate circumstances, there are systems in place to get them back in a home in no time.

What motivates you all?

We're dedicated because—to be honest—it feels good to help. You can walk around knowing that you helped someone in need, that you're making our community better. All of the people on the council are friends, so that helps keep us working together, even if it doesn't always help us stay on task!

Tell us about some of your recent efforts.

A few months ago, we set up a stand at the Fayetteville Farmers Market, and just walked up to random people and asked them for money to help people experiencing homelessness in our town. We expected to raise maybe $500—it turned out that after 5 Saturdays, we raised $5,000!

Recently, we did a big event to raise money to purchase sleeping bags. Our goal was 100 sleeping bags—but then we got an invitation to visit the Coleman Company. We came out to talk about functional zero—and there were 120 sleeping bags waiting in the hallway, all being donated to 7 Hills!

Excited, we continued planning for our event. We went all over asking businesses to donate for our raffle. Not only would that make our event awesome, but we were also raising awareness all over Northwest Arkansas. After weeks of pestering different places, over 20 different local businesses helped with our fundraiser. Again, being kids prevailed!

The day of the event, January 19, was kind of crazy, in that there was a huge snowstorm. Rick's Bakery had donated seven huge boxes of donuts, which we precariously balanced in our arms as we slipped and slid to the space, an awesome music hall donated by the Roots Festival. We set up tables and a "Food Room" with bagels and pizza. On the stage, Smokey and the Mirror set up their instruments, and then finally, we were ready.

Nate Walls Facebook

So, how did the event go?

We didn't know how many people would come, but then the room started flooding with people. Smokey & The Mirror was a hit, and Wood Stone donated even more pizza after we ran out of the first batch! At the end of the night, after both raffle tickets and admission, we raised thousands more to add to our haul of sleeping bags. In total, we raised $10,000 including the cash and the value of the sleeping bags combined. It was so fun to send the checks on to 7 Hills.

Nate Walls Facebook

What's next?

The future is filled with possibilities—what should we try to achieve next? Whatever it is that we're doing, we'll approach it with the goal of helping people, and a sense of joy.

The 7Hills Youth Council is made up of 14 members: Maggie, Elo, Samia, Irene, Huck, Ariana, Eva, Nikolai, Alexander, Caleb, Theo, Oliver, Mira, and Ava.

If anyone's interested in donating or taking part in the 7 Hills Youth Council, feel free to contact them at 7hillsyc@gmail.com

© IMPACT NWAR. All Rights Reserved