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Published November 30, 2022
The University of Wyoming’s Sheridan Research and Extension (R&E) Center recently donated nearly 1,600 pounds of dry beans to Food Bank of Wyoming, based in Casper.
A research farm like the Sheridan R&E Center must maintain flexibility to meet new research needs, says Brian Mealor, director of the Sheridan R&E Center. Annual crops, such as dry beans, assist with that flexibility and fit well into crop rotation plans.
“They also give us the opportunity to provide a resource such as the beans that were donated,” he says.
Daniel Smith, farm manager at the Sheridan R&E Center, and Michael Albrecht, assistant farm manager, spearheaded the donation. After planting an extra acre or two of beans to test equipment, the farm team found itself with a surplus of pinto beans, with a few colorful assortments thrown in.
What to do with the extra beans? The answer was obvious: Give them to someone who could use them, Smith says. Dry beans, including pinto beans, are a nutritious, protein-rich staple and hold up well during storage and transportation.
In the seed processing facility at the Sheridan R&E Center, Albrecht ran the harvested beans through the cleaner and sorted split beans from whole beans. He then packaged them into 39 40-pound bags for donation.
The bags will be distributed across the state by Food Bank of Wyoming to its Hunger Relief Partners, including soup kitchens and senior centers where volunteers cook and serve a high volume of hot meals, says Rachel Bailey, executive director of Food Bank of Wyoming. Local partners, such as food pantries, also may choose to repackage the beans into smaller bags for distribution.
If next year’s projects yield a surplus of beans in addition to research results, Smith and Albrecht say they would like to continue the donation program.
About University of Wyoming Extension
Since 1914, UW Extension has provided lifelong learning opportunities to Wyoming citizens across the state. With roots in agricultural education, UW Extension supports rural communities facing contemporary challenges and changes. UW Extension brings the university’s resources to each of the state’s 23 counties and the Wind River Indian Reservation. To learn more about UW Extension, call (307) 766-5124 or visit www.uwyo.edu/uwe.