Get Going, Get Growing in Ajo

1001292_679458095401899_321429668_nGet Going, Get Growing in Ajo!

Get Going, Get Growing (also known as 4G) is a community initiative of the International Sonoran Desert Alliance that has already resulted in a great benefit to the Ajo community. Over the last three years, the 4G program has significantly increased the community’s resiliency and self-reliance by improving access to food, and it has graduated 20 interns mentored on all aspects of gardening and small scale food production.

[To support the program’s current fundraising campaign click here.]

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SARRC Grows Social Enterprise in the Garden

Hidden away amongst an unassuming concrete space in central Phoenix, there thrives an urban garden that’s growing more than just vegetables. This is the home of GardenWorks, a Social Enterprise initiative of the Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center. 15 - 1 (1)The GardenWorks program provides community-based job training for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder through hands-on gardening, sustainable landscaping, and water harvesting education to foster skills that individuals can use to sustain their future financial independence.15 - 12

Although the garden was initially founded five years ago with funding from a philanthropic grant, it has seen some recent renovations and is in the midst of a relaunch under the caring hands of GardenWorks Coordinator, Sarah Mathiasen, and Social Enterprise Director, Kate Thoene. Beginning March 30th, the program will offer ten week internship sessions for the center’s clients, in which participants will commit 25 hours weekly, receive one-on-one instruction, and create an individualized resume upon completion.

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15 - 3 (1)Besides the garden’s impressive hydroponics greenhouse, rainwater harvesting cisterns, a wooden coop housing escape-artist chickens (they try), and the nearly 100 lbs of veggies produced this past month, the real success of the program is its resource base for developing transferable skills. The GardenWorks internship is all about building assets, which occurs through opportunities to practice customer service, strengthen social skills, and all aspects of urban agriculture. But it extends beyond just what goes on in the garden. From experience riding public transit to community networking, participants of the program walk away with greater confidence that prepares them for the job market. Of the approximately 70 interns graduated thus far, more than 50 are now employed.

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Meandering through the garden, SARRC’s commitment to community partnerships becomes evident through an adaptive reuse brick art piece designed by ASU students, in addition to a compost bin recently constructed by Eagle Scouts. Future collaboration plans with Roosevelt Row’s Growhouse and HandsOn Greater Phoenix will move the garden one step closer to becoming a community space with the installation of picnic tables.15 - 13

Brimming with beets, fava beans, celery, cabbage, and more, the garden’s harvest currently goes directly to SARRC’s Beneficial Beans Cafés- an avenue offering further opportunity for skill development in marketing and sales. However, a CSA program is in the works. Interns will eventually harvest, package, and sell weekly produce at an on-site farm stand. Locally roasted Beneficial Beans coffee, flowers, and eggs from the garden’s chickens will also make an appearance in baskets down the line.


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3-Course Seasonal Spring Dinner

Spring is drawing to a close in most of Arizona, but there is still time to cook a few delicious dishes with the last of the cool season bounty. Give one last tribute to carrots, dill, salad greens, spring garlic, oranges, grapefruit, and a few year-round staples such as honey, goat cheese, and pecans with the following recipes. Head on over to Good Food Finder to find ingredients near you!

3540723095_ea7585110a_oThese recipes can be served at once in a grand springtime spread, or alone with your other favorite recipes:

  1. Mixed Greens Salad with Strawberries, Goat Cheese, Pecans, and Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette
  2. Spring Pasta with Peas, Carrots, Pistachios, and Dill
  3. Oranges and Grapefruit in Spiced Syrup

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Get your Kicks at Kicks on Route 66 Bar and Grill!

In Northern Arizona, there are a plethora of options for fresh, tasty meals. The region is gaining a reputation for its commitment to providing patrons with the best, most local ingredients. One restaurant in Williams, AZ is doing this with an exciting new spin. The Kicks on Route 66 fresh Local Bar and Grill is new to the William’s culinary scene, but the restaurant is quickly gaining traction. Dedicated to raising the bar for food experiences in Northern Arizona, Kicks on Route 66 has a large, varied menu filled to the brim with delicious items prepared on site. Kicks on Route 66 offers seafood, steak, and gourmet burgers – among many other tasty bar/grill staples.

slide04The majority of the dishes on the Kicks menu are prepared with organic, natural ingredients. This ensures that customers are getting only the most delicious and high quality meals at a very reasonable price point. You can check out their menus here.

Located (you guessed it) on the iconic Route 66, Kicks is the perfect destination for families and travelers alike. As you head up to see the Grand Canyon, a stop at Kicks is sure to give you a taste of that Arizona’s special flavor. Just one mile west of Williams, the restaurant is situated between the Best Western Pus Inn and the Days Inn.

Happy hour is every day from WAZR_homeslide0213 PM to 6 PM. For more information, check out their website here.

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Support Your Local Nonprofits on Arizona Gives Day

AZ_Logo-SmallArizona Gives Day is a statewide, online giving campaign and this year’s date is April 7th. Arizona Gives Day is hosted by the Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits as a way  for people to find, learn about, and contribute to causes they care about.  No matter how big or small, whether you give $1 or $10,000, when combined with thousands of other donations, you can make a positive impact for our state.

Local First Arizona Foundation is accepting donations this year and 100% of funds raised through this Arizona Gives Day campaign will be donated to the 2015 BALLE Localist Conference Scholarship Fund, which will be used to send deserving, financially unable Localists to the conference to learn best practices for building strong local economies. Scholarship recipients and attendees at the BALLE Localist Conference will be exposed to new ideas and tools.

AZ Gives Day BALLE 2

I-donated-az-gives-day (1)A large number of local nonprofits are participating this year. Be sure to share your donations with your friends using #AZGivesDay, or by sharing it with us on Twitter at @LocalFirstAZBelow is the list of Local First Arizona members who are accepting donations on Arizona Gives Day. Click the link to view their information and donate on the Arizona Gives Day webpage.

Participating Local Nonprofits:

Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits Cutrano AZ Troop Run, Inc. Southwest Human Development
Circle the City Camp Colley Foundation Shemer Art Center
Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center Desert Botanical Garden Tumbleweed Center for Youth Development
Tucson Symphony Orchestra The Rialto Theatre The Primavera Foundation
Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation Native Seeds/Search Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
Association For Supportive Child Care Benevilla Theatre Artists Studio
Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale The Joy Bus
Valley Youth Theater Support My Club Southwest Human Development
Seed Spot Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation (CDC) Phoenix Tool Shed
Phoenix Day Musical Instrument Museum Linking Sports & Communities
Keep Phoenix Beautiful Iraqi American Society Heritage Square
Heard Museum Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona Empty Bowl Pet Food Pantry
Arizona’s Children Association Arizona Wilderness Coalition Arizona Humane Society
A Stepping Stone Foundation United Food Bank Foundation for Healthy Living
International Sonoran Desert Alliance Valley Permaculture Alliance Ben’s Bells
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Explore Arizona with Local First AZ: Sonoita/Patagonia Wine Weekend


Local First Arizona returns with another Explore Arizona trip, this time to the high desert grasslands of Sonoita and Patagonia on May 15-17, 2015. The region, about a 45-minute drive southeast from Tucson, is dotted by many of Arizona’s best wineries, plus an array of arts and culture destinations and some fine dining restaurants.

There is no need to head to California to taste award-winning wines and restaurants when we have so many to choose from right here in our home state,said Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning, who will manage and lead the Explore Arizona trip. If you haven’t had the chance to truly experience Arizona wines or witness the geography of southern Arizona’s high desert, you will be amazed by both the quality and the beauty.

dos-cabezas-wine-2Wine tasting will be a major component of the trip with visits to both Callaghan Vineyards and Dos Cabezas WineWorks. The region’s clay soil has been compared to that of Burgundy, one of France’s main wine producing regions famous for its Pinot noir and Chardonnay wines. Callaghan Vineyards and Dos Cabezas Wineworks have managed to stand up to this comparison, as Callaghan Vineyards has won Double Golds at the Jefferson Cup and holds a 94 rating from Wine Advocate for their 1993 Chardonnay. Dos Cabezas WineWorks has made the San Francisco Chronicle’s list of top 100 wines, and Todd and Kelly Bostock of Dos Cabezas Wineworks were also included in the Chronicle’s list of 10 rising-star vitners as part of their Winemakers to Watch in 2015article. Both wineries have also had their wines served in the White House to Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.


Chef Gregory LaPrad of Overland Trout

The trip will also feature meals at some highly rated local restaurants. On the first night, guests will enjoy dinner with Chef Adam Puckle of The Cafe, who will prepare green chile stuffed chicken with pico de gallo and seasonal garden vegetables, or a Greek-style Portobello mushroom stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, Kalamata olives and feta. On the second night of the trip, guests will experience Overland Trout, Cowboy slang for bacon, with award winning chef Gregory LaPrad. Chef LaPrad’s menu focuses on the agricultural heritage of the borderlands, featuring indigenous ingredients and showcasing high-quality, award-winning Arizona wines.

Attendees will stay at the Sonoita Inn, a western country lodge that captures the local history and flavor. The Sonoita Inn features spacious rooms which provide scenic views of the surrounding mountains and grasslands. There will also be time for attendees to plan their own activities, such as perusing the shops and galleries in Patagonia or hiking in the nearby mountains.

sonoita inn“An added bonus for joining us on this trip is that due to the elevation, the Sonoita/Patagonia region is about 10 degrees cooler than Phoenix,” said Lanning. “This will feel great as temperatures really start to rise in May.”

Registration is available for one- and two-night packages. For the two-night package, registration includes a hotel room for Friday and Saturday nights, four meals, and two wine tastings. A one-person package costs $279.00 (plus fees) and a two-person package costs $399.00 (plus fees). A one-night package includes a hotel room for Saturday night, three meals, and two wine tastings. A one-person package costs $180.00 (plus fees), and a two-person package costs $285.00 (plus fees). A full itinerary and registration is listed here.

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The Downtown Clifton Hotel Gives Guests a Real Taste of Tucson

16246632283_024c71d26f_zBefore the doors have even opened, The Downtown Clifton Hotel is already gaining a reputation as a one of a kind downtown destination. It’s been described as “funky”, “unique” and “a cool cosmic dude ranch in the heart of the city”, but above all it is a truly local experience. This 10 room boutique hotel in the Five Points neighborhood, is all about giving folks an authentic experience. The hotel incorporates locally made art on the wall, locally sourced furnishings and was designed with an eye toward providing a curated experience of all the great things that Tucson has to offer. In talk with Local First Arizona, owner Moniqua Lane realized that the in-room mini bars could also showcase local products. “You can go to any hotel and get M&M’s and a Coke, but why not have an experience that gives you the flavor of Arizona?” asks Lane. “Creating a sense of Tucson as a place to visit, experience, remember and love is important to us. Food is an integral part of that.” Lane worked with Local First Arizona and Adam Lehrman of Tucson Foodie, to “taste test” a wide range of local products to find unique products for the hotel.

“When you are looking for local foods, there are great resources available,” comments LFA Local Foods Director, Steve Russell. “When you look at the business directory at there are over 200 food producers listed and features over 4,500.” In addition, the taste testers also went directly to LFA members Food Conspiracy and Heirloom Farmers Market to ask about great local products they had seen. For beverages, the taste test included Diego Session IPA from Iron Johns Brewing, Borderlands Noche Dolce Moonlight Vanilla Porter, Dark Rum and Agave Rum from Desert Diamond Distilling and bottled Original and Chiltepin Iced Coffee from Exo Roast. Finding products that were produced in Arizona and individually packaged was key for this project. For food items, the taste testers sampled Grassfed Beef Crisps from DoubleCheck Ranch, Green Valley Pecans from the Green Valley Pecan Company, VeggieChips, Chamoy Mango slices, Chili Pistachios, Glazed Pecans and Corn Nuts from Incredible Snacks, Gourmet Olive Oil and Balsamic Pairings from Alfonso’s Olive Oil, Birds Nest Bakery Sonoran Blend Granola from Birds Nest Baking, Zesty Queso Kale Chips from My Rawsome Foods, Sweet Energy Trail Mix from AJ’s Fine Foods, Gourmet White Popcorn from Popcorn Country,   Prickly Pear Candy from Cheri’s Desert Harvest and Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Bars, Olive Oil Caramels and Chocolives from Queen Creek Olive Mill. Food Conspiracy also contributed samples of locally made R Bars and Oh! Bars by OhGanics for our tasters to sample.


Tucson Foodie, Adam Lehrman, provided expert opinions at the tasting.  Seeing the variety of local products available was eye opening even for a committed foodie like Lehrman.  Comments Lehrman, “You learn quite quickly what’s available and what isn’t. There are limited choices for non-perishable items, but Erika did a great job in gathering items that most of us, myself included, had not heard of. It made me think that there’s a huge opportunity for companies that make quality, locally produced artisan food items.”  While not all items were seen as the perfect fit for the hotel, there were plenty to choose from.  “It was great to be introduced to so many unique products that I can introduce to our guests,” says Lane.   “There’s so much variety in our local products. There is something for everyone, nutritious snacks for the cycling community, salty snacks for mid-afternoon munchies and delicious sweets for after dinner treats.” Comments LFA’s Russell, “what’s exciting about projects like these is how it shows how almost any business can incorporate local food products. These items make a great in-room minibar snacks, but also work perfectly for point of sale counter treats and corporate gift baskets.” The Downtown Clifton Hotel officially opens for business on April 1st. Guests can call now to make reservations at (520) 623-3163 to get their own “taste of Tucson”.   Visit them online at or check them out on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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How the Devoured Bartending Competition Got Green

bartending compFor those who missed the spectacular Devoured Bartending cocktail festivities in early March, rest easy knowing you were not the only thing that was missing from our fun. The competition was short quite a few bags of landfill trash due to the addition of recycling at this event at Phoenix’s Crescent Ballroom. While slinging hundreds of cocktails, bartenders and event attendees alike made the conscious decision to utilize the recycling bin, conveniently labeled to avoid waste and add smiles.

awesomeWe had a few simple rules that helped us navigate the new, exciting terrain of recycling on the day of the event.

  1. Empty plastic cups, paper, empty liquor bottles and cardboard all were recycled.
  1. To avoid contamination, we had amazing bin guarders who stood at the trash stations and helped attendees deposit recyclables into the correct bin. Ice and remaining cocktail juices where dumped in the trash bin opposed to the recycling.
  1. Fewer things= less trash
    This year, we left plastic straws and paper napkins out of the equation.

P3010150To those whom attended, thank you for helping make this a towards zero waste event and a huge shout out to LFA volunteers who helped us mitigate 200 gallons of recyclables from the landfill!  We also appreciate the willingness of the Crescent Ballroom’s staff to help us achieve our recycling goals!

If you are interested in how to “green-up” your bar or restaurant please contact LFA Sustainability intern, Kayla Bellman at

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RoRo Icon

Roosevelt Row is the epicenter of locally owned business in Phoenix. Built from the ashes of an abandoned neighborhood, artists and entrepreneurs created a community that screams Phoenix and proves that the city is not a massive generic strip mall. Carly’s Bistro has a staple on the Row for ten years, and is a great starting or ending point for a jaunt through Carlys sandwich2the area. Open for lunch, dinner and late night, the menu features a delicious variety of sandwiches, salads and small plates. The kitchen serves eats until 2 a.m. from Thursday to Sunday, and until midnight the rest of the week. On Sundays enjoy a leisurely brunch with live jazz and Carly’s signature Bloody Mary or Whiskey Sangria. Their happy hour runs Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. and will have you grinning with $1 off well drinks, wine and draft beer and half off select appetizers.

Carlys muralBeing a locally owned business, Carly’s supports fellow Arizona companies with their menu ingredients. Produce comes from GrowHouse, Duncan Family Farms and Willie Itule and locally sourced food products include MJ Bread, Lux Coffee, Cheri’s Desert Harvest, Sun Orchards, Klein’s Pickles and Segal’s Challah. Popular local beers from Four Peaks, San Tan, Lumberyard, Uncle Bears, Oak Creek Brewery and Borderlands are featured. The restaurant pays homage to the artist community with a local art show every month and patrons can keep themselves busy between sips of drinks by looking at the sketches under the bar top. Stunning murals from Lalo Cota and Pablo Luna grace the building. They support local musicians by having live music every Saturday night and during Sunday brunch.

Carly’s Bistro has got you covered whether you are Carlys patiolooking for a spot to grab a quick lunch or a place to hang out with a group of friends. Their newly opened patio gives you access to all the action along Roosevelt Street. Be sure to mark your calendar for May 9th when they will be celebrating their 10th anniversary.

128 E. Roosevelt St
Phoenix, AZ 85004


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There’s no place like home – make the most of yours at the SAHBA Home Show

This post guest written by LFA intern, Julie Carmody

sbhahomeshowNow is the time to get those springtime home renovations underway! Whether you need a kick-start or maybe some new ideas, this year’s SAHBA Home Show is the place for you. Come to the SAHBA Home & Patio Show to see the very latest in home improvement technology and remodeling trends. Here, you’ll find every home remodeling idea under the sun. Happening this March (27th, 28th, and 29th) at the TCC, the Southern Arizona Home Builder’s exposition is Tucson’s largest home show, hosting over 300 vendors in just three days. The SAHBA Home & Patio show delivers all of the must-see home trends to you under one roof, so don’t miss out! This expo delivers everything from pooling, appliances, cooking, gardening, cabinetry, roofing, and just about anything in between. A number of vendors are LFA members, so be sure to check them out while you’re there!  On Saturday, March 28th, you can meet Mrs. Green at her book signing in the Green Living Booth #1705.


A&E Recycled Granite makes beautiful decorative tiles out of recycled materials.

Other great local business exhibiting at the SAHBA Home & Garden Show include A & E Recycled Granite, ABCO Solar, Arizona Pest Control, B & J Refrigeration Inc,Family Air, LLC, Lady Joan’s Boutique, Molesworth Paving, Sky’s Sunlight LLC and Tucson Olive Central.  The show is a great opportunity for visitors and vendors alike.  “The SAHBA Home Show is a great way for local businesses to interact with consumers on a large scale,” comments Julie Olausaon with A & E Recycled Granite. ” It gives us instant market analysis on what is trending in Tucson. This helps my company target clients through-out the year, providing them with the information and products that they are looking for.”

In addition to the hundreds of exhibitors you can also see cooking demos from Mama’s Hawaiian Bar-B-Cue, Gourmet Girls, Noble Hops, Vero Amore, Pastiche, Magpies, Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria, The Rice Bowl and many more.

Bring along a canned food item for the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona for $1 off admission.  You can find more information and a coupon for reduced admission online at SAHBA Home Show.

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