Tucson celebrates Independents Week with shopping Passports and Grapefruit Beer

pledgeGet ready for the 10th Annual Local First Arizona Independents Week celebration June 27th – July 5th, because this year’s will be the best yet! During Independents Week we want all Arizona residents to declare their independence by supporting of our independent businesses!  When we choose locally owned businesses we keep more jobs and dollars right here in our community, and during those hot summer months, our local businesses need our support!  Add your name to our online pledge to show your support.  On June 27th, you can download the Golden Coupon, good for 20% off at participating local businesses.

Download as many Golden Coupons as you like and Buy Local all week long! The Golden Coupons can also be found in the Southern Arizona Jewish Post and at any one of 20 Passport stops around Southern Arizona. passportPassport stops include Yikes Toys, Antigone BooksThe Running Shop, Deco Proper and many more! Pick up your free Passport to Local Success on June 27th and tour 20 of Southern Arizona’s favorite Indies. Get at least 5 stamps from passport businesses just for stopping by and be entered to win lots of great prizes including gift certificates for local restaurants, breweries and the grand prize – a VIP Summer Staycation package from Hotel Congress. The staycation package includes a room for the night, admission for two for a show at Club Congress and breakfast for two at The Cup Cafe (home of the award winning Cast Iron Baked Eggs).  There is no purchase necessary to win. Print your passport by downloading from localfirstaz.com on June 27th, or pick one up at any of the 20 passport stops. Passports and extra golden coupons are also available at the 20 stops. Your Golden Coupons are good at over 100 local businesses, so be sure to check out the latest offers at localfirstaz.com.

Completed passports can beBorderlands Horchata Ale dropped back off at any of the 20 passport stops, mailed in or turned in at the Local First AZ table at the Food on the Streets, Lights in the Sky event on July 4th at Mercado San Agustin. The event starts at 6pm. Join LFA at this fun event at Mercado San Agustin featuring food popular food trucks and live music from the Cochise County All Stars. During the event, the bar at Agustin Kitchen will be serving this year’s special Indie Week Ale from Borderlands Brewing Company – a Grapefruit Hefeweizen brewed with the juice and zest of over 100 locally grown White Marsh grapefruit.

Posted in Beer Wine and Spirits, Independents Week, Local First Movement, Tucson & Southern Arizona | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Made In The Shade

Adobe Awning 2

Awnings are an energy-efficient answer to reducing the amount of solar radiation that enters through the windows of your home or business – ultimately decreasing the workload on your air conditioner during those hot summer months. In fact, solar radiation through glass is responsible for approximately 20 percent of the load on an air conditioner, according to a study by the American Society of Heating and Air Conditioning Engineers. By adding awnings to your windows, you can lower your energy bills, provide protection from the harmful UV rays of the sun, enhance curb appeal, and enjoy a shaded view.

Adobe Awning 3

Adobe Awning 4Adobe Awning and Shade is a full-service contractor with more than 20 years of experience in the awning industry, providing quality service to residential, industrial and commercial clients in the Greater Southwest Region. They can cover all of your shading needs from remodeling projects to all new construction. Adobe Awning and Shade has been a family owned business since 2002 and is fully dedicated to providing the highest level of customer service along with quality products. You may have even seen their name on the 500 free gift bags we give away at our annual fall festival, which Adobe Awning makes especially for us using all scrap materials from their supply. They are fully llicensed, bonded, and insured with in-house concept designs/renderings, auto CAD, engineering, manufacturing and installation. Keep your family cool and comfortable outside and inside during the blistering summer by turning to this one-stop shade shop for all your shade structures and window coverings.

 Written by Somlynn Rorie

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Handcrafted for Perfect Moments

alcan1With 13,000 vines and 12 different varietals, Alcantara Vineyards and Winery is a must see on your wine trail adventure. Located just two hours from Phoenix and nestled along the Verde River in the quaint town of Cottonwood, Alcantara boasts one of the largest vineyards in northern Arizona and has been perfecting the art of wine making for over 13 years.

The moment you walk in the door you are welcomed alcan2by an enthusiastic staff as well as a picturesque setting. As you sit on the balcony you can see the beautiful Verde River flow around the property and may even catch a glimpse of one of the many bald eagle families that also call the vineyard home. Guests are encouraged to take an hour long guided tour of the property where you learn about trellising, irrigation, varietal’s and the philosophy of growing grapes. If the scenery and ambiance is not enough to encourage a visit the taste of the wine certainly is.

alcan3Alcantara offers both white and red wines as well as a variety of cheeses to enhance the palate and tasting experience. The 2013 Viognier tastes of dried stone fruit with mineral and grassy aromas. It has lively acidity with a full mouth feel and medium length finish. If red wine is more your style try the 2013 Sangiovese. This wine is lighter in color and has bright red fruit, vanilla and cranberry aromas. It has light tannins, good crisp acidity and a medium length finish.

alcan4Alcantara will be participating in two major wine events this upcoming June. The first being their very own Zinfest, a celebration of all things zinfandel. Guests can enjoy a tasting of three types of zinfandels while enjoy live music and plenty of food. Next up is the Tilted Earth Wine and Music Festival. A festival dedicated to displaying the uniqueness of northern Arizona wines.

If you cannot make it out this June stop by any other time. Located at 3445 South Grapevine Way in Cottonwood, Alcantara’s tasting room is open 7 days a week from 11Am-5Pm. Tours are available on Friday’s and Saturday’s by appointment only. The vineyard and tasting room is also available for weddings and private parties. For more information visit their website or call (928) 649-8463. Don’t miss out on this Verde Valley gem, it’s the perfect place to begin your northern Arizona wine tasting excursion.

Posted in Arts and Culture, Beer Wine and Spirits, Exploring Arizona, LFA Member Spotlight, Northern Arizona, Rural Arizona | Leave a comment

LED Lighting Technology Symposium to Answer Questions for Businesses

Photo Credit: PSNH via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: PSNH via Compfight cc

Nelson JIT and AEI Lighting will be holding a symposium on LED Lighting Technology Tuesday, June 2, at 11:30 a.m. The discussion will revolve around the latest advancements in LED technology and how it will impact commercial and industrial properties.

The event will be a collaborative effort between Soitec Lighting Division, the leader in advanced LED/Solar technology and manufacturing; AEI Lighting, the leader in LED fixture manufacturing and advanced technology; and property owners and managers from around the state.

Attendees will learn about the latest advances in technology and how it will impact their properties. Feedback from the attendees will help the manufacturers of this technology to research and develop more substantial products to meet Arizona’s needs.

Soitec will also be introducing their new LMC Program. This new program allows companies to bring LED innovation into their facilities off balance sheet with no upfront cost and positive cash flow from day one.

Lunch will be served at the event starting at 11:30 am. The discussions should be done by 12:30 – 1:00 p.m. followed by a tour of Soitec’s multi-million dollar R & D facility located in the ASU Research Park in Tempe. The address for the event is Soitec Phoenix Labs 7700 S. River Parkway Tempe, AZ 85284 and will begin in the W.P. Carey Auditorium at the same address.

Please RSVP to greg.nelson@aeifab.com or by phone at 602-618-4300.

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Super Art and Action at the Heard

Tom Farris, "(Su)prerman" from the Heard Museum's Super Heroes: Art! Action! Adventure!

Tom Farris, “(Su)perman” from the Heard Museum’s Super Heroes: Art! Action! Adventure!

This past week I went to see the newest exhibit at the Heard Museum, Super Heroes: Art! Action! Adventure!

Walking into this exhibit you are greeted by the message “Be Inspired.” Inspiring children, families, and visitors to talk about what if superman was Cherokee, superheroes’ animal companions and animals graduating high school, and highlighting Native American art inspired by super powers the was the motivation behind the creation of this exhibit. Most importantly though, Dr. Ann Marshall director of curation and education, says “Our overall wish for this summer experience is to create a place where children and adults can talk together about what makes a superhero and think about how people can find the superhero in themselves.”

Arigon-Starr_superInd_cutout3Marking the entrance of the gallery are a number of familiar characters. Life-size superhero-superstars such as Green Lantern and Batman mark the entrance like sentries welcoming guests into the cheerily colored gallery. Wrapping through the space on most of the walls, this exhibit displays large graphic art stories. As you’re working your way through the gallery you catch up with Super Indian and his talking dog companion, Diogi, written and drawn by Arigon Starr; meet the average teenage boy turned into the super powered hero Kagagi, written and drawn by Kay Orlick; or read about real heroes such as the Navajo Code-talkers and Po’Pay with their stories converted into graphic novels.

My favorite thing about this exhibit was the representation of female super heroes. When I asked Dr. Ann Marshall about this she said, “It was impossible for us to explore superheroes without encountering women”, and that shows in this gallery. There’s representation of Lynda Carter’s Wonderwoman, ‘Pueblo Girl‘ by  Susan Folwell, and the main character of a featured (and interactive) game ‘Never Alone‘ is a young Iñupiat girl named Nuna who travels with her pet fox.

Besides getting a chance to play ‘Never Alone‘, two major draws in Super Hereos for children are the chances for kids to become super heroes. Kids can begin their superhero adventure with a paper cape making craft table.  Cape on and after reading through the easily ‘kids-translatable’ graphic novels, check out an interactive game that places an animal on a large screen to be their companion and follows their movements- a great photo op!

As you leave the exhibit, and into the rest of the museum with two other children’s areas: consider what makes a hero and what type of hero would you be?

HeardMuseum-LogoThis inspiring, and FUN, exhibit is now open at the Heard Museum! 

Dates & Times: Saturday, May 16, through Sunday, Aug. 23. 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. 6-10 p.m. First Fridays.

Admission: $23 for adults; $18.50 for seniors; $12.50 for students and children ages 6-12; $5 for children under the age of 5 and American Indians; free for museum members and children younger than 1.

More Information: 602-252-8840, heard.org.

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Putting a Cork In It

As a sustainability intern at Local First Arizona, I have been working to transform the way local businesses approach sustainability. Naturally (pun intended), recycling has become a hot topic of discussion. What is recyclable? Why aren’t these things recyclable? Where can I recycle? I have been asked nearly every question in the book during my time with LFA, some easier to answer than others.

One item that had me stumped was the seal that preserves a favorite beverage, wine corks. With innovative re-purposers active in our local community like the folks of Refresh Glass who transform used wine bottles into trendy glassware, I assumed someone had to have a better alternative to the landfill for corks. Here is what I learned.

Photo from www.corkforest.org

Photo from www.corkforest.org

The large majority of natural cork comes from the cork tree forests in Portugal, Spain, Algeria, Morocco, Italy, Tunisia and France.  The trees are not chopped down in the process; harvesters simply peel back the bark which comprises the cork.  Once stripped, the trees will be left untouched for nine years until their cork is sufficient enough to harvest once again.  Many environmentalists believe cork harvesters to be wildlife stewards, arguing “that the cork industry is essential to the survival of Mediterranean cork forests; without it, these important natural habitats — home to endangered species like the Iberian lynx — would likely fall prey to fire and desertification.”  So by uncorking bottles, you may just be preserving one of the greatest ecosystems on planet Earth.

Now that I understood the sustainable, corks2renewable process of producing cork, I wondered where do the 13 billion natural wine corks sold in the world each year end their lives?  And what about the alternative wine stoppers out there?

To explore the fate of natural corks, screw caps, and synthetic alike, I reached out to restaurateurs  Upward Projects who allowed me to collect their corks for a month. When all was said and done, we collected over 20 pounds of corks and caps.  The majority of toppers were natural corks, but I also collected a fair amount of synthetic corks and screw caps.  Now I was faced with the task of determining the soundest resting ground for my collection.

wine screw capAluminum screw caps:  Most recycle plants cannot successfully recycle the caps because they  fall through the siphoning equipment or the magnets used to attract metals in the process do not pick them up.  To ensure that they make it through the process, you can smash them down and place them inside a larger piece of metal.


Synthetic corks: These are neither recyclable nor compostable making reuse the only option for these stoppers.


Natural corks: 100% recyclable but these wine stoppers do not belong in your standard blue bin as most commercial recycling facilities are not built to handle cork.  Cork Reharvest has collection boxes  in grocery stores, wine and bottle shops, and winery tasting rooms across the country. Visit their website to find a location near you.

The corks I collected ended up staying local, as they were donated to the Art Resource Center. This Tempe nonprofit is an amazing resource where artists, educators, crafters and anyone interested can find supplies to create art or work on projects.  These corks, previously destined for the landfill, will likely find new life in the hands of makers.

My hope is this tidbit of information will allow you to be a more educated consumer and think twice before (and after!) you enjoy a nice bottle of wine. It’s easy to set aside your corks and there are plenty of ways to keep them out of the landfill. Cheers!

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3 Fresh Summer BBQ Sides

Fire up your grills, bring out the cold drinks, and invite your friends and family over! It’s that perfect time of year when it’s warm enough for an outdoor gathering, but not too warm yet. You can keep your BBQs healthy and fresh with these seasonal side dishes. Many of the ingredients below, as well as your main meat entrees, can be found at a farmers market near you or by searching Good Food Finder. And stay tuned for an upcoming announcement for new and exciting changes to Arizona’s largest local foods directory!

Three Sisters Pesto Pasta Salad


For the pasta:
16 oz whole wheat pasta such as cavatappi, farfalle, rotini, or penne
1 c zucchini or other summer squash, diced
1 c corn, cut from the cob
1 c green beans, ends trimmed cut into how-to-cut-corn-corn-of-the-cob-for-freezing-canningone inch pieces
1 c tomatoes, diced
½ c crumbled, cooked bacon (optional)
1 recipe basil pesto, below

For the pesto:
2 c basil, loosely packed
2 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ c pine nuts
½ c olive oil, or more to achieve thinner pesto
1 to 2 tbs water as needed
2 tbs parmesan, grated (optional)
Juice of one lemon
Red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

  1. Place all the ingredients for the pesto in a blender or food processor. Season generously with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes as desired. Blend until completely smooth. Add more olive oil, or a few tablespoons of water as necessary to achieve desired consistency.
  2. Prepare the pasta according to the package directions. During last three minutes of boiling, add the green beans to the pasta and water. Drain both beans and pasta in a colander and immediately rinse in cold water to halt cooking.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet over medium and add about one teaspoon of olive oil until just smoking. Add zucchini and corn and stir frequently until charred, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Add half of pesto and toss to combine. Add more pesto as desired. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as desired.

Quick Cucumber Pickles, Asian Style


4 c cucumbers (about one pound), partially peeled, ends removed, and sliced
½ c red onion, thinly slicedCucumber-partially-peeled
½ c carrots, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
2 or more jalapeno or serrano chiles, thinly sliced
¼ c rice vinegar
1 tbs fish or soy sauce
1 tbs sugar


  1. Peel and slice cucumbers and place in a colander in the sink. Sprinkle the cucumber slices with salt and toss to combine. Let sit 20 minutes, rinse with cold water, and then pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Whisk together vinegar, fish or soy sauce, and sugar until sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Combine all ingredients in a nonreactive dish with a lid and stir to combine. Cover the pickles and refrigerate at least one hour before serving.


Watermelon with Mint and Lime

Ingredientswatermelon with mint

6 c watermelon, cubed
1 tsp lime zest
Juice of two limes
2 tbs honey or agave syrup
¼ c mint, roughly chopped


  1. Whisk together lime zest, juice, and honey.
  2. Pour lime mixture over watermelon cubes and sprinkle with mint.
  3. Toss to combine and chill for at least one hour before serving.
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Memorial Day Furniture Sales: Keep it Local

beddrsShopping for home furniture is a huge decision for anyone, especially when looking for a new mattress. Finding the right size, comfort, price, and a company you can trust are all weighed into your choice. Sustaining Member of Local First Arizona, Bed DRS, offers a unique approach to selling mattresses by focusing on the health behind a good night’s sleep. You’ll also be taking advantage of savings and supporting a local business along the way.

Wes Harrington, General Manager of Bed DRS, has been a huge supporter of Local First Arizona for a long time and is a true advocate for working with other local businesses and keeping dollars in the community. Consumers throughout Arizona are often bombarded by chain mattress companies popping up on almost every corner, which makes the hometown ownership of Bed DRS unique. They are truly in business to treat each customer like a neighbor and make sure you go home with the right mattress that is going to make you healthier and sleep better.

One misconception about shopping locally is that local businesses have higher prices than larger chain companies. Bed DRS proves that theory wrong, especially by all of their upcoming specials for Memorial Day weekend (click here for even more specials!). This is a great reminder that you can always shop locally, even when making a major purchase for your home. So make sure when you are looking for your next mattress to remember that you can improve your health, save, and support a local business all at the same time!

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706 Reasons To Attend the BALLE Conference

Haven’t registered for the BALLE Conference on Localism yet? It’s being held in Phoenix June 10-12, and is the national forum for visionary local economy connectors who are making a difference in their communities. Here are 706 reasons why you should attend:

BALLE Attendees600 Localist Leaders All In One Place
The BALLE Conference is the one place each year where the local economy movement comes together to share ideas, innovate, and have important conversations about the emerging new economy. If you care about systems change, this is the place you need to be.


Watch a video to see the kind of people you’ll meet at this year’s BALLE Conference:

Van Jones70+ Incredible Speakers

Visionary business leaders like Dansko’s Amanda Cabot and Etsy’s Matt Stinchcomb, social change agents like Van Jones and CODEPINK’s Jodie Evans, and innovators on the forefront of restoring the land and building a new economy will inform and inspire. Click here for a full list of speakers.

BALLE 4 Tracks8 Interactive Conference Tracks
Through eight conference tracks that together represent What’s Working Locally, BALLE Conference attendees are true participants invited to share their knowledge and perspective to develop applicable solutions and executable plans. Click here for a full conference agenda.

Arcosanti Building6 Immersive Workshops and Tours

At what other conference can you learn how to build a food hub, get a Micro MBA focused on place-based impact investing, visit an experimental town (Arcosanti), and experience first-hand the adaptation of historic buildings, growing food in an urban desert, and revitalizing Main Street? Click here for more info.

BALLE Team 2014And 21 Days (and Counting) Left to Register!
The BALLE Conference offers extraordinary access to leading business leaders and social innovators through one-on-one mentoring and the Living Economies Lounge. Attendees make important connections, build skills and insights to advance their work, and have a lot of fun in the process.

BALLE FoodOne More Bonus Reason:
If you really needed another reason, what you’ve heard is true: BALLE does throw a better party! You won’t want to miss the delicious local craft brews and organic food, plus Arizona’s best entertainment, music, art, and culture. The agenda outlines the parties and activities planned each night.
Many reasons to register for this year’s BALLE Conference on Localism, but just one thing left to do. Register now and we’ll see you in Phoenix.

Are you a Local First Arizona member? Contact us for the 10% discount code! 

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Your Guide to the Acronyms Advancing Food Access

This article was written by Local Food Systems Intern, Sarah Schenck.

“A sustainable food system is not just about achieving economic viability and on-farm sustainability, but is also underpinned by wider social and ecological concerns, such as community food security, fair labor practices, food safety, equitable access to food and the means to produce food, healthy ecosystems and animal welfare.” Rebecca Duell


We’re stoked about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares. We’re also pretty fond of shopping at farmers’ markets. As wonderful as these outlets are for connecting us to our local food system, we want everyone to share in the bounty of health and well-being gained from participating, but presently, there are hurdles that hinder many in our community from partaking in the local food economy. Past discussions on the affordability and accessibility of locally produced foods have touched on the matter that localization aptly involves paying the full costs of food (environmental, social, and economic), but in order to have relevance for food security and social justice, these are costs we must all be able to pay.

This is a challenge that we’re working to address nationally and locally. Augmenting the purchasing power of customers paying with food assistance benefits is incentive for new low-income customers and can increase food security in the surrounding community.

“Encouraging low-income families to put more healthy food in their grocery baskets is part of USDA’s ongoing commitment to improving the diet and health of all Americans,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Creative community partnerships benefit regional food producers and local economies along with SNAP participants.”

Embodying this, a number of standup organizations across Arizona have partnered with the USDA in tackling the obstacles of getting nutritious, local food into the homes of all members of the community through various initiatives including:

farmers-market-roadrunnerOf the several challenges in increasing food access to underserved neighborhoods, there’s lack of awareness regarding who’s eligible for these programs, where benefits are accepted, and how to utilize benefits. Also, markets are generally not located in the most at risk neighborhoods.


Among local actors pushing for change, these three are making notable improvements:


  1. The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona
    Only 36% of farmers’ markets in AZ accept SNAP benefits. The food bank brings produce to low-income clients outside of the traditional market setting through its seasonal, mobile farm stands. They operate with a consignment model, providing community empowerment, education, and resource sharing for small scale farmers and gardeners. All vendors at the farm stands accept SNAP, WIC, and SFMNP. Strategic in their choice of location, they address accessibility concerns by stationing a farm stand outside of the food bank. Creative solutions increase access, like distributing SFMNP vouchers while seniors are waiting in line to receive food boxes so they can seamlessly transition to purchasing fresh produce afterwards in a single trip.Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 4.37.53 PM
  2. University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Cooperative Extension
    A major hindrance to getting healthy food to the community is the public’s general unfamiliarity with fresh produce. There are misconceptions that local produce is not affordable or it’s low quality, in addition to uncertainty about how to store and prepare fruits and veggies. The UA Nutrition Network is phenomenal in combatting these obstacles by making food “real” to people. Individuals need to grow familiar with seeing, smelling, and tasting produce in order to be comfortable seeking it out at the market, farm stand, or through a CSA. This is where the value of educational outreach, food demonstrations, and recipe provision comes in. The network spreads common nutrition messages using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and ChooseMyPlate.gov to SNAP participants and those eligible for it. Decreasing social barriers to food access is just as important as addressing geographical ones.
  3. Maricopa County Department of Public Healthdph
    23% of people eligible for SNAP aren’t participating in the program. Furthermore, while redemption rates are high at some markets, in total, SNAP only makes up 1-2% of market sales. One goal of Maricopa County’s Department of Public Health is to help families increase their purchasing power with SNAP by directing them to healthy food. In part, this means eliminating the stigma of participating in federal benefit programs. More so, it means distributing information to increase awareness of CSAs and markets that accept benefits, in addition to locations, times, and dates. They’re undertaking efforts to get the word out with brochures, flyers, bilingual messages, signage at markets, and visible info in SNAP and WIC offices. Again, meeting the community where they are.
    Cindy Gentry, Food Systems Coordinator of the department says, “Community is the crux of it all. Word needs to get out that SNAP and FMNP are welcome. It’s as basic as distributing flyers door to door, bringing it up at homeowners and neighborhood association meetings, or working with advocates to volunteer and host tables at farmers’ markets to get information about signing up for SNAP.”

As of April 2015, through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) program authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, USDA has awarded $31.5 million in funding to local, state, and national organizations to support programs that help participants in SNAP increase their purchase of fruits and vegetables. Serving as inspiration, Michigan’s Double Up Bucks and California’s Market Match offer models of healthy food incentive programs we can emulate to feed more families.

If you’re interested in joining the efforts to increase healthy food access in Arizona, we’d like to hear from you at goodfoodfinder@localfirstaz.com.



Posted in Agriculture, Farm to Institution, Local Food, Policy, Sustainability | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment