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Sustainable Tucson Summer Potluck

Tucson is not prepared for Climate Change, Mega-droughts, and much more. It will take a strong community where we know our neighbors and pull together to deal with what’s ahead. But many solutions exist at the local level, and the place to start is a good meal with friends and neighbors.

We know already that what we’re doing here is special: It grows (no pun intended) out of the 4,000-plus history of agriculture in our region, and we can use this local food scene to build community, build our local economy, and build a resilient future for our region. A great place to start to ensure a resilient Tucson is with a strong and resilient local food system.

Come to the June Sustainable Tucson meeting – a potluck dinner and discussion about Building Community thru Food. Find out about the new Food Resilience Network and how you can help build a healthy community in your beautiful, safe and abundant neighborhood.

This Tuesday, we will get together at the Ward 6 office  (3202 E 1st St) to share a meal of family favorites and seasonal local food.  And to discuss what would persuade you to want to get together with many of your neighbors to share food and fun, and build a stronger community where you live.

Bring a dish you can share with about a half dozen people.  If possible, please try to feature one or more local ingredients. You can find a wide variety  of delicious, seasonal local foods we grow right here in Southern Arizona at local Farmers Markets .  And of course, favorite family traditions are welcome.

So regardless of your food tradition, come for the good food and community. At the

Sustainable Tucson Summer Potluck 2018

Program/potluck starts at 6:00. Doors open at 5:30. See you on the 12th.


P.S. – Help us keep plastic and similar products out of the local landfill — If you can, please bring your own plate, utensils, cup or glass. If you can’t (or forget), we’ll have all these supplies available, but we’re hoping to keep our trash footprint as limited as possible.

P.P.S.  Space is limited, so if you use Facebook, please let us know you plan to attend thru this FB event link

Brainstorm at the Garden Party

Your Ideas & Suggestions:

From the discussions and the cards collected at the Food Resilience Project Potluck/Garden Party 3/25/17

Gardening Tips

  • Use locally adapted seeds, e.g., from Native Seeds/SEARCH or the Pima County Public Library Seed Library. (All are catalogued, so if your local branch doesn’t have the actual seeds you want, you can order them to be delivered to that branch.)
  • Container garden on “stilts” — Capture rainwater after it waters the plants and the containers, then re-use that water.
  • Raise chickens & rabbits — good for compost for your gardens and getting free eggs too! They’ll eat scraps too, so less goes to waste. (Comment from Gary: Great suggestion but remember that the expenses associated with raising & caring for these animals will not generate FREE eggs or compost material.)
  • Don’t waste it — Use it! (Actually a tip that goes way beyond just gardening)
  • Let’s get refugees involved, to support their gardens and also learn alternative urban farming methods from them!


Networking Ideas

  • Share seeds, seedlings, plant starts with neighbors (Exactly why we want to create more neighborhood garden networks and Neighborhood Resilience Teams!)
  • More potlucks in our neighborhoods — including music, poetry, along with the food; also: offer from Casa Goofy International to host a potluck — we’ll work with them to arrange that.
  • Form neighborhood listservs and/or to keep connected more effectively (see also Resource list below)
  • Use to share skills, know-how with schools (see also Resourse list below)
  • Share food/share labor (e.g., through a Neighborhood Resilience Team working with the Food Resilience Project)
  • Network with refugee gardeners (see Gardening Tips above). Share excess produce & fruit with refugees in our community by contacting Iskashitaa Refugee Network — they’ll arrange to come and harvest, if you wish.
  • Note from Dennis with Casa Goofy International: food to share; bulletin board; lawyers available for pro bono work; information for/about victims of code enforcement; info re city council people supportive of urban agriculture.


Suggestions for information collections/programs/actions/projects

(for at least some of these, see also the Resource list below)

  • Resource to collect & share information on excess food — where can it go to be used, who has it, who needs it? Perhaps some sort of Excess Food Bulletin Board.
  • Listing of restaurants that source locally — Also, encourage more restaurants to source locally. (Some information about this can be found in Edible Baja Arizona magazine & website.)
  • Possibility of communal gardening system in neighborhoods (not necessarily formally organized under Community Gardens of Tucson)
  • Form groups for helping with neighbors, e.g., with transportation (possibly connecting with existing organizations doing this).
  • Collect list of places to volunteer in order to get food, places to help get food to homeless, places to volunteer for food prep to feed homeless and/or at shelters
  • Identify/Share information about ways to make irrigation and rainwater harvesting easier to build and more affordable
  • Support sustainable transportation, water management, etc.
  • Create a program that works to locate and connect people who have land & would like a garden but are not able to make it, with individuals who want to work the land. They can share produce, check up on each other. (Perhaps can be developed with the use of networking that Food Resilience Project is proposing or with tools noted in Networking Ideas section above)
  • Create a movement to support local businesses



These are resource ideas that were shared on the cards and/or in the discussions at the potluck. There are, of course, many more. Others are posted on the Information Portal on

  • If you have excess food, contact Pivot Produce (a distributor) to get it to local restaurants. ( & on Facebook)
  • Abundant Harvest Cooperative helps gardeners & small growers sell excess at the Santa Cruz Farmers Market Thursday afternoons. (
  • Iskashitaa Refugee Network, to volunteer with harvests/gleaning or to have them come and harvest your excess and distribute to refugee families in Tucson (
  • Consider joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) — there are quite a few in Tucson; check out the list at
  • Community Gardens of Tucson is a great way to get access to a plot of land & get gardening advice, guidance, & support. Details at
  • Know your neighbors and work together to prepare for heat emergencies (and to build community) with Physicians for Social Responsibility–Tucson’s program, Building Resilient Neighborhoods.
  • Mission Garden — great place to learn, volunteer, get locally adapted fruit trees, etc. (
  • For networking —
  • For sharing skills in schools —
  • Support local businesses (& find local businesses when you need them) — Local First Arizona (;
  • Tucson Organic Gardeners (
  • Native Seeds/SEARCH (
  • Watershed Management Group (
  • Pima County Public Library’s Seed Library ( — search for “Seed Library”)
  • Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona — many programs, including free gardening classes (
  • Labor for food and housing:
  • WWOOFers, – – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, is a loose network of national organizations that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms. WWOOF organizations connect people who want to live and learn on organic farms and smallholdings with people who are looking for volunteer help.
  • WWOOF hosts offer food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. Volunteers give hands on help in return. WWOOF is a network of national organizations
  • net, — HelpX is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.
  • Workaway — or — is a site set up to promote fair exchange, volunteering and work opportunities between budget travelers, language learners or culture seekers who can stay with families, individuals or organizations that are looking for help with a range of varied and interesting activities.

Many of the organizations above also have Facebook pages — check those out as well.

On a bright, sunny day, Tucson took an important step toward Resilience

On a bright but windy day, 46 people from all over Tucson met to share delicious local food, share ideas, and take the next step to make Tucson more food resilient.

If you missed it, don’t worry. You’ll get other chances. There will be more.

After a tour of the garden of our host, Gary Vender, three members of the Food Resilience Project’s Champions Network outlined the objectives of the Food Resilience Project.

Paula Schlusberg gave a brief overview of the program and why it is important. Because companies around the world have adopted a “Just-In-Time” inventory system, Tucson has only a few days of food in all our stores. But we know that we can produce a lot more local food and build a strong community in the process. Food resilience can also allow us to tackle other problems, like aging in place and climate readiness.

Gary Vender gave a brief overview of how easy it is to grow lots of food in Tucson.

In a few hundred square feet of garden he grows hundreds of pounds of tomatoes and lettuce. Not only does he grow enough for his own family, but he shares it with many neighbors and provides lots of fresh food to the Community Food Bank. And the water bills are only $30-$40 per month.

Donya Meggs related her path to creating the first Neighborhood Resilience Team.

Even though she didn’t feel she had the time, her neighbors were able to help her dig and water her initial garden. Now that 5×5 garden is providing lots of vegetables and which she is now able to share. Their NRT started with a dozen people, and now they are planning a potluck, and garden exchange. And sharing the load makes it possible, even with her busy schedule.

After these initial presentations, and over the delicious food that people brought to share, there was a lively discussion of the many ways that we could work together to make Tucson more Food Resilient. The answers ranged from

  • * Seting up a garden exchange to share extra produce from neighborhood gardens, to
  • * Doing an inventory of food trees in the neighborhood, to
  • * Organizing a tour of some gardens in your neighborhood.

A more complete list can be found here.

The next step will be to find new Resilience Champions who want to take on the task of creating their own Neighborhood Resilience Teams. And to continue to develop the resources needed to help them succeed.

If you want to join us, our next meeting will be during the week of April 10-16. Contact Tres English <> to get the details.

Next Step – Learning to Grow, Eat, and Share more delicious, local food

What if you could live in a neighborhood where

  • a rain-watered, Permaculture food forest shades our streets and makes them beautiful?
  • you know your neighbors because you often share delicious locally grown food in neighborhood potlucks and garden exchanges?
  • kids play and adults gather in neighborhood micro-parks created by the traffic-calming chicanes that create the space for that food forest?, and 
  • community gardens and commercial market gardens are widespread, and thousands of people are employed in creating a resilient local food supply?


The first steps to transforming Tucson into this Beautiful, Delicious, Safe, and Fun home starts with Learning to Grow, Eat, and Share lots of delicious, local food. You can take that first step on March 25 at the kickoff Community Potluck of the Food Resilience Project of Feeding Tucson /Sustainable Tucson .


The Food Resilience Project of Feeding Tucson is an initiative to encourage and help small groups of neighbors to form Neighborhood Resilience Teams that share local food, help each other garden, and much more. You can start one in your neighborhood, or help others who are willing to take the plunge now.


On Saturday, March 25 from 4:00 to 6:30, people from all over Tucson will gather to share locally grown food. You can bring something from your own garden, or check out these links to local Farmers Markets). You will find out how you can either start your own Neighborhood Resilience Team or join the Resilience Champions network to help others who want to try. You hear about the experiences of the first NRTeam. And you will enjoy a friendly meal made with lots of fresh local ingredients on a beautiful spring evening. (The potluck is near 22nd St and Country Club.)


Please let us know that you are interested by using this Doodle link. Or if you prefer, you can use this FaceBook event page. Even if you can’t attend, it will let us know you are interested. We will send you the actual address when we hear from you.

What will it be like to live in a sustainable Tucson?

What will it be like to live in a sustainable Tucson?Part of our challenge to making this transition before we have no choice, is to really imagine what it will mean.

Sustainable Tucson took a small step toward understanding what that will mean with our Valentine’s Day Party and Creativity Workshop: “Love in the Time of Climate Change”. It was a social mixer plus brainstorming session. And we had chocolate!

The main activity involved a mashup between the Permaculture design tool called Random Association and the board game Clue. People worked together to create ideas for what we could actually do in our neighborhoods, all of Tucson, or this region to live more sustainably. Using over 120 different actors, actions, places and tools, representing Who (You, Elderly Neighbors, Kids, Local Businesses, Wildlife, etc.), Do What (Eat, Share, Ride, Cross, etc.), Where (Neighborhood street, Pocket park, Local business, backyard, etc.), and With What (PV panel, bamboo, chicanes, shade trees, garden, etc.), people came up with dozens of ideas for ways to transform their neighborhood or community into a more Beautiful, Delicious, Safe, and Fun place to be a part of. At the end, we all participated in the Dances of Universal Peace.

Another goal of the meeting was to recruit people for the new Sustainable Tucson initiative “The Opposite of Helpless”. This year, we will be exploring the “Hows” of making Tucson more sustainable, not just the “Whys”. It is critical that our ST Partners (that’s YOU) help organize these monthly meetings on topics ranging from “Aging in place and in community” to “Prioritizing Water for Food and Nature” to “Financing Sustainability”.

In the end, we can’t do this without you. Please look at this survey of upcoming meeting topics. If you have other ideas to suggest, please add them. If you find one that is important to you, please sign up to help organize it. This is a one-time, limited commitment, but it is really important that you get involved.


Resilience Champions Network – meeting notes

Meeting NOTES
Resilience Champions Network
Date: 10/5/2016
Location: Rincon Market
With: Josefina Cardinas, Javier Lopez, Jim Lootens, Donya Meggs, Jack Strassberg, Dusty Jacobs
Discuss w/ Champions: What are you hoping to do? And how can we help?
Organize ETSFestival signup

Two Food Resilience Champions groups attended: Josefina Cardinas, Donya Meggs/Dusty Jacobs.
* Josefina has a neighborhood group with almost all pieces for a community garden, but there are internal conflicts that need to be overcome, in order to move forward.  Rcmd: Resolve internal conflicts (become NH President from VPres) and approach Ward 1 office to ask for assistance to move forward.
* Donya has a neighborhood group that is starting.  They are organizing a work party on Monday and can provide their flyer as blank form for other groups.  Their primary need is a cheap/free source of compost.  Work party on Monday (Oct 10) at 4pm at 2208 E 17th St.
Action: Javier L will connect them with source of sheep manure.  Jim L is master composter and will conduct training at later date.
* FRP will have a table at the Envision Tucson Sustainable Festival on Oct 16 to recruite potential Neighborhood Resilience Teams and Resilience Champions.
Action: Most people plan to participate.  Tres has prepared Doodle <> for people to choose times.

Jim: Develop list of composting resources (TOG pamphlet, video on composting, etc.) and send to Tres
Tres: Create/add to FRP Information Portal information on how to compost in desert.
Javier: Will provide contact info on sheep manure

Raw notes:
Q: Is there interest in gardening in your NH?
JLoo: Not really.  Used to be.  Some discussion about restarting.  There may be a piece of property that could be used.

Q: Champions – What do you need?
JC: There is a garden on City property, but we need a NPO to sign lease with City.  Was working with CGT, but they have withdrawn.  Has talked with Regina Romero, but there are internal politics within NH.  Need to restart garden under NPO and it will get going.  There was conflict over gardening policy with CGT.  There are a lot of resources in place, but there is personal conflicts that are preventing someone from signing contract with City.
TE: Clear up NA issues and go to Regina’s office and ask what is next?  Send letter to NEST.

DM: 3 households, 4 people.  (DM, DJ, John Jorgenson)  On Monday, we are starting with a planting party.  Will purchase NS/S seeds and plant garden.  Are working on flyer.  Will be a distributed garden group.  Goal is to share work.  Distribute flyers and invite neighbors to see gardens.  A few kids and an elderly couple in area.  Can offer flyer.  Need compost.
Sources of compost: Tank’s Green Stuff will sell 1CY (you pick up) for $38.  Beryl Baker has small sheep herd and will gladly donate sheep manure.  TOG prepared a video on desert composting, and Jim is a Master Composter.  Javier has a 7 HP tiller that could be used.  Also a small tractor.
JLoo: ** There is a video and pamphlet on composting.  Could do class on composting, once DM are farther along
JLop: **  Will help ID manure sources.

DJ: Our neighborhood group is holding a work party at 2208 E 17th St, on Monday at 4pm

Food Resilience Project meeting notes (9/22/2016)

If you are interested in the next Champions Network meeting, fill out this Doodle link <> and let us know your availability.  I will post the final date on the Feeding Tucson FB page.

The global Just-In-Time supply system has left us entirely unprepared for disruptions to our local food supplies, and Global Climate Change threatens long term global food supplies.  Communities will have to produce a significant fraction of their food in the future.

Metropolitan Tucson receives roughly 85 billion gallons of harvestable rainfall and has over 100,000 acres of land without structures. In theory, we could harvest more water than utilities pump from the ground and produce more food than Tucsonans eat.

As a result, neither water nor land impose the least upper limits on the amount of food we can produce.  We do.  The process of increasing our food resilience will allow us to create a more cohesive community, beautiful neighborhoods and lots of delicious food.

Twenty four people from all over Tucson and surrounding communities participated in the kickoff meeting of the Resilience Champions Network.

Five individuals/groups volunteered to be the first Neighborhood Champions and try to organize Neighborhood Resilience Teams in their neighborhoods.

Winston Larkins – Needs information in how to set up community garden
Josefina Cardinas – Needs to form or partner with 501(c)(3)
Donya Meggs/Dusty Jacobs/John Jorgenson – Wants guidance on how to contact neighbors
Gary Vender – Volunteered after meeting
Steve French – Volunteered after meeting

Initial information/services to help initial Neighborhood Resilience Teams
Winston – Assistance in setting up community garden
Josefina – Set up NPO to allow to keep community garden.  (NEST Inc could be fiduciary agent)
Donya/John/Dusty – Ways to meet neighbors & organize teams
Information Portal – Community contacts
Develop FAQ
Sources of free compost – may be course in how to do NH composting (TOG has DVD on composting in Tucson)
How to set up harvest potluck
How to set up work exchange
How to set up determine group’s capacities
How to set up buying co-op
How to set up community garden
Create template for flyers to announce kickoff meeting
Develop skills assessment tool for new groups – may be able to get ideas from former PRO Neighbors staff (Judith Anderson, Joanie Sawyer)

Additional issues
We need to set up several ways to communicate with people – email, FB, phone
Potential information source –
Ask for answers to questions about what we want to do to help NRT

Future tool kit elemets
Need video on Gardening 1 (not even 101) – DM will check CFB
Develop tools for networking contacts

Minutes of Food Resilience Project Working Group

Minutes of Food Resilience Project Working Group

Attending: Paul Tynan, Josefina Cardinas, Winston Larkins, Paula Schlusberg, Donya Meggs, Tres English, Camille Kershner

TE: Draft script/questions for resource survey of food-related groups. Provide list of food-related groups that might provide some assistance to FRP Neighbors Groups. Set up Listserv group.
PT, DM, WL: Review/revise draft script
WL, JC, DM: Write ¶ of what possible assistance their neighbors groups might need from potential resource group
All: Contact 4-5 resource groups, using the script, to develop Resource List for Food Resilience Portal

Next meeting: Two weeks. Organize thru Doodle

Starting suggestion:
Provide information for how to:
• Organize FRP Neighbors Group
• Determine current capacities of group
• Set up Garden Exchange
• Set up Work Exchange
• Set up Harvest Potlucks

Online Information Hub
• Calendar of events and classes
• List of local resources

Focus on defining the “Minimum Viable Product” which is the least we can do that will be of sufficient value to a sufficient number of people we serve.

Things that might belong in a starting product:
• Information on how to preserve and use local ingredients
• Buying co-op to get reduced prices on mulch, …
• Tool exchange
• Coordinate list of advisors/ mentors/consultants
• Provide “white papers” on things like legal issues (ex: health codes and potlucks)
• Promoting the use of local/seasonal ingredients
• Information “Clearing house” or “Portal”

• Calendar of events and classes
• Resource contacts on:
• Vetted individuals (Start with recommendations. Need ways to aggregating feedback)
• Organizations that provide _____________ (Q: What do you do? How can you help? Who do you serve? …)
• Reading list (Need to get people to share their knowledge)
• Networking between FRP Neighbors Groups and others
• Stories – videos, written. Success stores.

Next steps:
• begin to develop the Resources section of the Food Resilience Portal. Everyone will contact 3-5 existing groups (Tres/Paula have list of ≈15 local groups) and use a common script to guide questions. We can use the three neighbors groups represented in this working group to provide a focus for some of the questions.
• Develop an online calendar for the Resilience Portal that can be updated by partner groups

We will ask about help for specific groups:
• Barrio Kroger Lane
• Nobles Oblige Mobile Home Park
• Proto-neighbors group (Donya)