July winner

Growing community through soil

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Through a collaboration of staff, board members and volunteers, Fayetteville, Arkansas-based Tri Cycle Farms offers classes, programs and events with a focus on food security, sovereignty and sustainability. The nonprofit allocates a third of the food it grows to volunteers, a third to food pantries and community meals and a third to be sold to sustain its operations.

Reconnecting with food

Tri Cycle came to life in 2012, after a group of volunteers got together to clean up an overgrown property purchased by the nonprofit’s founder and executive director, Don Bennett. Most of us are disconnected from our food, knowing how it tastes, but little of where it comes from, how it was grown and what labor and resources its production required. Before he launched Tri Cycle, that included Bennett himself. Bennett insists he’s not a farmer – and that he’s learned almost everything from Google, with a handful of local gardeners filling in the gaps.

Applying what he’s learned, with the help of thousands of volunteers, Bennett has transformed the property over the past decade, building a thriving, pesticide-free soil teeming with vegetative and microscopic life.

The seed of the endeavor was personal: having experienced food insecurity during the economic downturn following the housing crisis of 2008, Bennett took matters into his own hands – learning to grow his own food alongside other willing students of the soil, and disseminated that knowledge locally.

For Tri Cycle, however, it’s not just about growing food. It’s about nurturing a more resilient, equitable and healthy world. “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,” says Bennett.

 

“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.”
–Don Bennett, Tri Cycle Farms Executive Director

 

Sharing, teaching and farming

The acreage Bennett purchased in 2012 is now a full-fledged farm that supplies produce to the surrounding area and hosts community-building events and educational programs. Working with local teachers and farmers, Tri Cycle regularly offers classes and hands-on workshops – covering everything from foraging for native plants, growing mushrooms and building birdhouses to tending chickens, goats and bees.

While some of these programs require a small fee, most are donation-based, ensuring anyone can learn regardless of their financial circumstances. Tri Cycle also runs a robust food recovery program, coordinating the efforts of businesses, community organizations and a small army of volunteers to recover and redistribute tens of thousands of pounds of food before it makes its way to a landfill.

 

Fighting food insecurity in and around Fayetteville

Jessica Vasquez, owner of Sterling Group Insurance, is a big believer in Tri Cycle’s mission. Vasquez first volunteered for the nonprofit in 2014, helping wrap its first greenhouse in plastic so they could use it to start seeds. In 2021, Tri Cycle approached Vasquez about joining its board as treasurer, and she’s been regularly contributing ever since – keeping the nonprofit’s books, helping with strategic planning and communicating with donors.

“I’ve seen firsthand the impact Tri Cycle Farms has,” says Vasquez. “They’re at the forefront of fighting food insecurity in the local community.” The food Tri Cycle gathers through its food recovery program not only feeds its composting operation, but nourishes people experiencing food insecurity in the area. That lifeline was particularly vital during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Tri Cycle had to keep its public gardens closed.

 

“I’ve seen firsthand the impact Tri Cycle Farms has. They’re at the forefront of fighting food insecurity in the local community.”
–Jessica Vasquez, Sterling Group Insurance owner

 

Help Sterling Group Insurance win an additional $5,000 for Tri Cycle Farms by clicking the vote button. Get them an extra vote by cheering them on in the comments below by July 31, 2023.

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Rob Neal
8 months ago

Hats off to Tri Cycle Farms and Sterling Group Insurance!

Terrius Bruce
8 months ago

This is a great opportunity!

Terrius Bruce
8 months ago

Support Support Support!!!

Kate
8 months ago

I guess we did it!?!??!!!!

Lauren Hawkins
8 months ago

If we keep voting, can we get it doubled again?
This organization is tops!

David Whitaker
8 months ago

Yay! Such great work everyone!

Kelly
8 months ago

Amazing! Thank you all for helping us exceed our goal!

Dan Kelley
8 months ago

wonderful organization that is community minded thru & thru

Jessica Vasquez
8 months ago

Yay! We hit the 500 vote mark! Thank you to everyone who supported Tri Cycle in this.

Asha
8 months ago

Tricycle does such amazing work!

Kathy Freeman
8 months ago

Love your vision and the way you are making it happen !

Julie Moody
8 months ago

Thank you, Tri Cycle Farms, for fighting food insecurity!

Kelly Bassemier
8 months ago

Y’all are blowing us away with your support!!!

Suzanne Hayes
8 months ago

Great non profit organization! Have watched it grow and do wonderful things!

David J Whitaker
8 months ago

Happy to help our urban agriculture grow and flourish!

Karyn Zaremba
8 months ago

Tri Cycle is the best. I’ve watched it grow and develop from the beginning. I’m sim proud of all the work they’ve done toward solving g food insecurity in our area.

Kevin Watkins
8 months ago

Tri Cycle for the win!

Kelly
8 months ago

I love reading the comments! Thanks everyone!

Terrius Bruce
9 months ago

Let’s go!!!

Kate
9 months ago

It’s happening!!!

Kelly
9 months ago

333 votes!

Jessica
9 months ago

This has been so awesome to watch. Thank you everyone for voting!!

Kelly
9 months ago

Go Tri Cycle!

Danielle Shearer
9 months ago

Great job in supporting the community!

Kayla Chiara
9 months ago

Love this story, great work all!

Don Bennett
9 months ago

Thank you all for your votes and comments! Thank you Liberty Mutual, SafeCo, State Auto and Sterling Group for this fantastic opportunity to grow!

Kate
9 months ago

Woohoo. Go team!

Ashley Mauldin
9 months ago

Come on Friends!!

Kelly
9 months ago

Halfway to our goal in one day!!! That’s amazing!

Josh Milligan
9 months ago

Love the farm

Lauren Hawkins
9 months ago

Tri Cycle Farms is a force for good, hard work with fantastic results

Kelly Bassemier
9 months ago

Thank you all for voting!

Terrius Bruce
9 months ago

This is awesome! This organization is always there for the community.

Rebecca
9 months ago

A great organization and a meaningful opportunity to help our community!

Kate
9 months ago

Such a great organization.

Kelly
9 months ago

Thank you Jessica and Sterling Insurance Group!

Jordan
9 months ago

Tri cycle has done great things for this community. They deserve our support and respect

David J Whitaker
9 months ago

This place is such a vital part of our community!

Amanda Wawrzaszek
9 months ago

I love Tri Cycle and all they do for the community.

Mariah Kulkin
9 months ago

Congrats!

Sage
9 months ago

Tri Cycle does so much for this community! Excited for them to get more fiscal support!!

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