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City of Phoenix expands its sustainable cooperative food business program

Posted at 9:19 PM, Jan 26, 2022

PHOENIX — The City of Phoenix is looking to cultivate the next round of entrepreneurs by expanding a program aimed to help residents get off the ground.

The vision for Brian Cano is for there to be a food forest that will focus on south Phoenix.

"All of the trees we are going to have will bear fruit. We are going to have vegetables in the ground. We are going to have shrubs and different layers,” said Cano.

Cano is planting roots, as a business owner, to help put food on tables.

"If we can break that dependency and start to sustain ourselves, I think that is a really important thing,” added Cano.

He spent 10 weeks last fall as part of a food sustainability program designed by the City of Phoenix for veteran entrepreneurs. The goal was for veterans to launch or be part of a food cooperative.

"We all share that responsibility of creating the business, running the business, and making sure the business thrives,” added Cano.

"It could be produced. You can be processing. You can be helping fight food waste. Doesn't matter what it is,” said Joseph Rossell, the Food Systems Program Manager for Phoenix.

The program is expanding.

The city is partnering with Thrive Consultancy and ASU to open its next session in February. It will be open to all residents.

Participants learn a broad set of business skills, do group projects, homework and ultimately lay the foundation to build a legacy.

After 10 weeks of learning about food sustainability, Cano now has an acre of land.

He'll use it to plant food and also help educate the community. All, he says, is something that will grow over time.

"We are doing a lot of groundwork, literally, a lot of groundwork right now. But, a lot of this work, we won't see the full benefit for another 3-5 years,” said Cano.

Applications for the next course will be accepted until February 1, 2022.