Tag Archives: Farmers

foodbank

Buck Truck Adds Substance to Food Drives

Tempe, nonprofit, crowd-funding, grocery stores, farmers, donate perishable food items, Buck Truck, Tempe Leadership, United Food Bank, Mesa, Ed Baker, Tempe Chamber of Commerce, Lisa Pino, Arizona

A Tempe-based nonprofit is utilizing the power of crowd-funding to enable grocery stores and farmers to donate perishable food items.

Buck Truck, a project of this year’s Tempe Leadership team, is accepting donations for refrigerated delivery trucks to the United Food Bank in Mesa.

The United Food Bank currently relies on donations from canned-food drives and retailers.  The donations from retailers are limited, however, as the United Food Bank lacks the ability to transport food that requires refrigeration for freshness.

“You want to provide the best food to those you’re trying to help,” said Ed Baker, a member of this year’s Tempe Leadership team. “The best foods for people to live a healthy life are fresh, perishable foods.”

The Tempe Leadership Program, a product of the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, has been around since 1985 and each year puts together a team of community-centric individuals for nine months to engage in a project that can cover a range of community services.

“When we sat down to decide what our project would be, it was brought up that United Food Bank has a difficult time accepting fresh food,” Baker said. “We thought, ‘If only we could get 10 or 15 people to donate for a refrigerated truck.’”

The final decision was the concept of Buck Truck, to which contributors are encouraged to donate $1, $10 or $15.

The goal is to raise $41,000 for trucks that can “deliver fresh vegetables and meats from local farmers, ranchers, suppliers and grocery stores” as opposed to non-perishable items typically collected by charities in canned-food drives.

The Buck Truck website states that the refrigerated food truck will allow 24,000 pounds of what previously would have been wasted food to be distributed monthly, which it notes equates to 20,000 fresh meals.

“Buck Truck is very important because it will allow us to provide fresh produce and lean protein to our 200 partners,” said Lisa Pino, president and CEO of United Food Bank. “It’s the food you need for a healthy, adequate diet.”

The importance of Buck Truck is not only to increase the quality of food being served to those in need, but also the quantity, as Arizona is currently scarce in resources to serve what she explained is one of the hungriest states in the country, said Pino.

“The Buck Truck is nimble and responsive to Arizona’s hunger needs,” she said.

Arizona is tied as the worst state for childhood hunger, and is fifth worst in food insecurity (limited access to adequate food sources), according to statistics cited on the United Food Bank website.

As well as helping absolve statewide hunger, Pino noted a collateral benefit of Buck Truck is also contributing to helping reduce food waste.

“A theme of sustainability is key for us,” Pino said. “We want to eliminate food waste and engage more young people on the issue.”

guayule

Guayule could drive Arizona’s economy

It’s common knowledge that America’s largest import is oil, but do you know what’s second? Hint: it’s a commodity used for tires, hoses and thousands of household products.

The United States imports 100% of it’s natural rubber from the Hevea tree grown in nations like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Once upon a time, there was enough rubber to supply all of our needs, thanks to imported natural rubber and synthetics made from petroleum, but like with everything else in the global economy, the need for rubber is being stretched beyond it’s supply.

Enter Arizona, the home of a native Sonoran Desert plant called guayule (why-you-ly). A hundred years ago, it was touted by names like Edison, Firestone, Ford and Rockefeller as the panacea for our nation’s rubber shortage. Ironically, it even appeared on the front page of the New York Times on December 7th 1941, touted as a backstop supply of rubber in case of Japanese aggression. Shortly thereafter, over 25,000 acres was put into production as part of the war effort.

Unfortunately, like every other time guayule has cropped up, worldwide prices or geopolitics have conspired to cut it down before long-term research could be done–until now.

In 2009, a Casa Grande company, PanAridus, started acquiring the largest privately owned germ plasm bank of guayule on the planet, marrying the sciences of genetics and bio-agriculture to making guayule profitable for farmers to grow and for tire companies to use in the manufacturing process.

Guayule and Arizona are a match made for a planet with finite resources. Not only does the plant use about half the water as conventional crops like cotton or alfalfa, but it’s grown on unproductive and arid land. One hundred percent of the plant is used, either for rubber, resins or as cellulosic biomass.

With consistent testing in hand, PanAridus is now growing more guayule per acre than can be grown by tapping the Hevea tree, and this past autumn for the first time in history, guayule samples were publicly offered to be tested against ‘traditional’ rubber sources that have been used to make tires, tubing and medical supplies.

Will 100 years be worth the wait? With an exploding Asian market, the possibilities for a center for the $300 billion tire industry being sited in Arizona look positive. PanAridus is currently looking at sites for a test facility in rural Arizona that will allow it to grow its patented strains in large enough quantities for tire companies not just to test its purity, but to actually blend it into the tires they sell all around the world.

Blending rural agronomy with genetics to grow crops like guayule will give us key strategic advantages we need not only to create jobs at home and increase profits at the farm gate, but also to create a ‘best practices’ sustainable industry that can be exported around the world.

 

Michael Fraley is CEO of PanAridus. Learn more at www.PanAridus.com.

guayule

Guayule could drive Arizona's economy

It’s common knowledge that America’s largest import is oil, but do you know what’s second? Hint: it’s a commodity used for tires, hoses and thousands of household products.

The United States imports 100% of it’s natural rubber from the Hevea tree grown in nations like Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam. Once upon a time, there was enough rubber to supply all of our needs, thanks to imported natural rubber and synthetics made from petroleum, but like with everything else in the global economy, the need for rubber is being stretched beyond it’s supply.

Enter Arizona, the home of a native Sonoran Desert plant called guayule (why-you-ly). A hundred years ago, it was touted by names like Edison, Firestone, Ford and Rockefeller as the panacea for our nation’s rubber shortage. Ironically, it even appeared on the front page of the New York Times on December 7th 1941, touted as a backstop supply of rubber in case of Japanese aggression. Shortly thereafter, over 25,000 acres was put into production as part of the war effort.

Unfortunately, like every other time guayule has cropped up, worldwide prices or geopolitics have conspired to cut it down before long-term research could be done–until now.

In 2009, a Casa Grande company, PanAridus, started acquiring the largest privately owned germ plasm bank of guayule on the planet, marrying the sciences of genetics and bio-agriculture to making guayule profitable for farmers to grow and for tire companies to use in the manufacturing process.

Guayule and Arizona are a match made for a planet with finite resources. Not only does the plant use about half the water as conventional crops like cotton or alfalfa, but it’s grown on unproductive and arid land. One hundred percent of the plant is used, either for rubber, resins or as cellulosic biomass.

With consistent testing in hand, PanAridus is now growing more guayule per acre than can be grown by tapping the Hevea tree, and this past autumn for the first time in history, guayule samples were publicly offered to be tested against ‘traditional’ rubber sources that have been used to make tires, tubing and medical supplies.

Will 100 years be worth the wait? With an exploding Asian market, the possibilities for a center for the $300 billion tire industry being sited in Arizona look positive. PanAridus is currently looking at sites for a test facility in rural Arizona that will allow it to grow its patented strains in large enough quantities for tire companies not just to test its purity, but to actually blend it into the tires they sell all around the world.

Blending rural agronomy with genetics to grow crops like guayule will give us key strategic advantages we need not only to create jobs at home and increase profits at the farm gate, but also to create a ‘best practices’ sustainable industry that can be exported around the world.

 

Michael Fraley is CEO of PanAridus. Learn more at www.PanAridus.com.

fresh produce

New Arizona Law Makes It Easier For Farmers To Donate Fresh Produce

A new Arizona law aims to increase fresh produce donations directly from farmers to food banks and other charities. The Western Growers-sponsored bill signed last night by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer allows farmers to receive tax deductions if they donate some of the crops they produce—literally giving away the fruits of their labor to the hungry. Building on the spirit of giving, the law revises previously complicated rules for the donations in hopes of boosting charitable contributions.

Sponsored by Arizona Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R-Chandler), the new law will apply to all 2012 tax year Arizona grown fresh produce donations.

“I am very pleased and appreciate the action whereby Gov. Brewer signed my Senate Bill 1121. This bill will make farm fresh produce donated to food banks easier to accomplish and will greatly benefit some of the most needy in our society,” said Yarbrough. “I applaud Western Growers for urging this legislation.”

Arizona food banks are also excited about the new law.

“We’re looking for good, solid nutritious food. And fresh produce, you can’t hardly get any better than that,” said Ginny Hildebrand, president & CEO of the Association of Arizona Food Banks. “We’re really excited about the potential of this law. What we know is that these growers and owners of fresh produce products in Arizona have one purpose in mind—that is to feed hungry people. They don’t grow product to see it wasted.”

Analysis from the food bank shows that less than 1 percent of fresh produce grown in Arizona was donated to food banks in past years. Hildebrand hopes the new law will change that. The law makes these fresh produce donations common sense by allowing farmers and others to deduct the wholesale market price of the fresh produce for tax purposes. The law also gets rid of complicated restrictions that entire crops be harvested on behalf of a charity. That means farmers can immediately donate food when they choose.

That’s important for Arizona farmers like Western Growers board member Gary Pasquinelli of Pasquinelli Produce Company, who heard about a similar law developed with help from Western Growers in California. Pasquinelli asked the right question: Why not a similar law in Arizona? Paul Muthart, also of Pasquinelli Produce Company, then provided critical input to make sure the tax deduction would work with businesses tax structures.

Established in 1984, the Association of Arizona Food Banks is a private, non-profit organization serving five-member regional food banks (Community Food Bank, Desert Mission Food Bank, St. Mary’s Food Bank Alliance, United Food Bank, Yuma Community Food Bank) and a network of nearly 1,600 food pantries and agencies. As one of the first state associations in the nation and an inaugural partner state association of Feeding America, AAFB was instrumental in the development of a statewide gleaning project, and our advocacy efforts have brought about beneficial state and federal legislation for our member food banks and the people they serve. For more information, to find a food bank or pantry in your area, or to learn more about donation and volunteer opportunities, please visit www.azfoodbanks.org.