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Raley’s Family of Fine Stores has been named the official grocery partner of the NBA's Sacramento Kings. The legacy partnership will promote the two Sacramento, CA, organizations’ shared commitment to encourage health and wellness throughout the region.raley

As the Kings move into their newly built arena, Raley’s will join Golden 1 Center with two concessions kiosks that will offer healthy options to fans, such as nutritious fruits and vegetables sourced locally from within the Farm-to-Fork Capital of the country as well as fresh juices and other healthy snack options. This partnership will help Raley’s deliver on their commitment to be the source for healthy and local food choices for all customers’ lively events.

“We look forward to partnering with the Kings to enhance our service and support for the greater Sacramento community,” Michael Teel, owner and chief executive officer of Raley’s, said in a press release. “Our partnership will enable Raley’s to extend our reach outside of our store locations; throughout the region, into more communities, educating and extending food options for everyone, allowing individuals to make the choices right for them and their health.”

Teel has also joined the Golden 1 Center Food Sourcing Steering Committee, dedicated to helping the Kings identify local producers committed to sustainability and quality. Julie Teel, local philanthropist, will work with the Kings Foundation to extend the #DoGood spirit throughout the region.

As both teams are passionate about making a meaningful difference in the lives of the individuals within the community, Raley’s and the Kings Foundation will also partner on projects targeting food literacy, regional gardens and nutritional resources.

“This new partnership with Raley’s is an extension of our commitment to sustainability and demonstrates the impact that local businesses can have on a community,” Kings President Chris Granger said in the release. “Together, we’ll be able to highlight local sources that offer high-quality produce and promote the benefits of healthy selections in and out of the arena.”

MILLEN, GA — The Terry Vorhees Golf Classic, the Southeast Produce Council's annual golf charity event, promises to be another hit with new programming and partnerships.

The annual two-day event kicks off May 18 at the Grandover Resort in Greensboro, NC, with an educational workshop in partnership with the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Elizabeth Pivonka, PBH president and chief executive officer, will share her organization's "2015 State of the Plate," a report studying Americans' consumption of fruits and vegetables. Projected growth of produce consumption and thoughts to consider at the supermarket level are among the topics Pivonka will cover.Elizabeth-Pivonka-2014Elizabeth Pivonka

"The future continues to be bright for the fresh produce industry, and I look forward to sharing this with the SEPC attendees," Pivonka said in a March 23 SEPC press release. "We also are very grateful that a portion of the proceeds from the Terry Vorhees Golf Classic will benefit our efforts to increase fruit and vegetable consumption."

The event will continue with a silent auction to benefit both the Produce for Better Health Foundation and Victory Junction, a North Carolina-based camp for kids with chronic medical conditions. A welcome reception and networking-style game night will round out day one, followed by the event highlight — a scramble-format golf tournament — on day two and special appearances by celebrity guests.

"This year's Terry Vorhees Golf Classic is going to be a great networking opportunity for the produce industry," SEPC Executive Director David Sherrod said in the release. "We're excited to add on the educational component with Produce for Better Health to give insight on how we as an industry can continue increasing consumers' fresh produce consumption. All of our programming and resources are built upon offering the produce industry networking, community and education, and this event is no exception."

To find out more or to register for the Terry Vorhees Golf Classic, visit

ST. JOHN’S ISLAND, SC — The average age of a farmer in South Carolina is 59, a figure that has steadily increased with each five-year survey taken by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And most of the roughly 25,000 farms in the state in the latest survey in 2012 were smaller, family farms, with 60 acres the most common size. So in a few years, who will be growing produce in South Carolina?IMG 6494Nikki Seibert Kelley stands in the seedling room at Dirt Works, a greenhouse constructed of low-hoop plastic. Here seedlings grow until they are transplanted into the fields at the incubator farm. Shown are tomatoes, cucumbers and a variety of vegetables.

Dirt Works, the first farm incubator in South Carolina and the entire Southeast, is growing new farm businesses five at a time and provides support for up to 23 every three years. Dirt Works is also home to the Growing New Farmers program, providing entry-level training for 25 aspiring  farmers a year, as well as apprenticeships with working farms. Growing New Farmers has graduated about 130 participants, several of which are now being incubated at Dirt Works and providing mentoring for the current class of participants.

Nikki Seibert Kelley, director of sustainable agriculture at the spread on St. John’s Island about 20 miles from Charleston, SC, said in an interview here that a survey of graduates of their programs found 70 percent working in the food system, as farmers or in related jobs such as farm managers or farmers’ market managers.

“Even those who decide it’s not for them, I count as a success,” she said, “because that’s why we have the incubator, to find out if they like it.”

Each new farmer from the program — and there have been 10 since 2012 — hires an average of three workers, so the total economic impact is 23 jobs paying above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Dirt Works graduates sell their vegetables to farmers markets, supermarkets and foodservice and restaurant operations in nearby Charleston, Kelley said.

Dirt Works and Kelley both benefit from Limehouse Produce in Charleston.

“Andrea Limehouse is a mentor to me, and Limehouse Produce rents the land to Dirt Works at a reduced rate and buys vegetables from our incubator famers,” Kelley said. “All to help our efforts to bring on a new generation of produce farmers.”

Dirt Works is one key element of the total program of Lowcounty Local First, which encompasses Growing New Farmers (a six-month certificate and apprenticeship program, the three-year Dirt Works Incubator Farm and Farm Land-Match, which helps Dirt Works graduates find and secure land for their farms); Farm Services (monthly training sessions and a computer platform of 275 members to share resources, seek help and post opportunities); and Consumer Education and Outreach, informational materials and events such as Eat Local Month.

At Dirt Works, recruitment for one of the five berths opening up once every three years is like a job interview. First, the certificate and apprenticeship program outlines the dangers and delights of farming with classroom and field training plus field trips and mentor-matching. Then Dirt Works offers a three-year, hands-on experience of organic and sustainable agriculture, enhanced with the harsh reality that agriculture is a business, covering post-harvest care and handling, marketing, pricing and business plans. A $2,000 program fee is increased each year by $1,000.

Leah Twillman, an apprentice to John Warren, a Dirt Works graduate who is now a mentor (and employer), noted, “My experience in the food and beverage world turned out to be an asset at the markets and behind the scenes at restaurants.”

She said she benefits from networking opportunities and choosing which practices to integrate into your own business. “Being at Dirt Works allows me to see many different styles of farming,” added Twillman. “They’re kind of like artists in the way they each have their own approach.”

Kelley, a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a master’s in environmental science from the College of Charleston, was one of the first Lowcountry Local First apprentices and was hired by Dirt Works in 2012. Dirt Works and Kelley are growing new farm businesses, five at a time, and raising up a new generation of farmers in South Carolina.

laurenThe proceeds from the second annual Viva Fresh Open will benefit the Texas Department of Agriculture’s Urban School Grant. The golf tournament will be held Thursday, March 31, at the TPC AT&T Canyons Course at JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort as part of the Viva Fresh Produce Expo.Lauren-CorzineLauren Corzine

The Urban Schools Agricultural Grant Program is an agricultural-related program for urban elementary and middle public school students that helps improve students' understanding and appreciation of agriculture through projects such as school vegetable gardens which can provide lessons not only in horticulture, but also in water conservation and nutrition.

"We are thrilled to partner with the Texas Department of Agriculture in support of the Urban Schools Agricultural Grant Program," Bret Erickson, president and chief executive officer of the Texas International Produce Association, based in Mission, said in a press release. “The vast majority of today's youth does not have a strong understanding of where their food comes from. We are seeking to change that through the funding of projects such as school vegetable gardens which help teach students about horticulture, plant and soil health, and agricultural production systems, not to mention the added benefit that kids get excited about eating more fruits and vegetables."

Presented by Bebo Distributing Inc. and Wonderful Citrus, the golf tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 1 p.m. Afterwards, rising country music star Lauren Corzine will perform during the 19th Hole Celebration sponsored by SunFed, from 6:30-9:30 p.m., held at Event Lawn 3 (the gazebo adjacent to the Pro Shop). 

Corzine started booking shows as a country music singer when she was just 11 years old and since then she has played all over the country gaining notoriety for her musical skill. Entry to the 19th Hole Celebration is free for golf tournament players and is $40 for all other expo participants. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door.

“We couldn’t be more excited to have Lauren Corzine as the live entertainment for the 19th Hole Celebration,” Craig Slate, vice president of sales-North America for SunFed, said in the press release. “It’s going to be a great way to kick off the 2016 Viva Fresh Expo and celebrate a fun tournament that benefits an organization that’s making a difference with kids.”

For more information on the Viva Fresh Open Golf Tournament, visit

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Nico Mexi Foods Inc. satisfied a reparation order issued under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act so the Chicago-based company is now free to operate in the produce industry. 

Additionally, Nicolas Ibarra was listed as the officer, director and major stockholder of the business and may now be employed by or affiliated with any PACA licensee.

Sanctions had been imposed on the company in January 2015 because Nico Mexi Foods failed to pay a $7,547 award in favor of an Illinois seller.

In the past three years, the USDA resolved approximately 3,700 PACA claims involving more than $66 million. Its experts also assisted more than 7,100 callers with issues valued at approximately $100 million.