Arkansas Community Foundation made a grant from the Lindsey East Endowment as part of the Access to Local Foods program. This grant supports the Center for Arkansas Farms and Food and Arkansas Food Innovation Center (both programs of the University of Arkansas) by providing funds to teach undergraduate interns how to create value-added foods from surplus produce grown at the Center for Arkansas Farm and Food.
The Arkansas Food Innovation Center is a commercial food production facility that helps farmers and food entrepreneurs bring their products to market. One of the pain-points these two programs have been working to address is how to help farmers find alternative uses for their unsold or second-grade (edible but ugly) produce so they don’t lose revenue. Creating “value-added” foods (for example, turning tomatoes in to sauce or berries into jam) is one such solution.
The Center for Arkansas Farm and Food is a teaching farm that offers experiential learning programs for beginning farmers and experienced farmers who want to expand their knowledge or markets. The goal is to increase the number of thriving farms and farmers in Arkansas, particularly those growing vegetables and specialty produce.
The grant enabled the Food Innovation Center to hire student interns for an experiential learning program that would help them understand the process of creating and marketing value-added foods from start to finish.
The Food Innovation Center prepared a video that shows all the complexity that goes into creating tomato sauce from surplus produce: