Growers & Alumni Team Up to Secure CALES' Expertise in First Produce Safety

July 26, 2022

As the leading college in the University of Arizona's land-grant mission, CALES delves into issues critical to stakeholders in Arizona agriculture.

Channah Rock

One of those grave challenges has been combatting public concern over E. coli and other foodborne illnesses. For growers in our leafy greens and fresh produce communities, this is a serious issue in need of scientific solutions.

Enter Channah Rock, a CALES environmental science professor and water pathogen expert. At the height of a recent leafy greens crisis, Rock stepped in to evaluate, consult, and advocate to government agencies and the media to calm public nerves and save the fresh vegetable industry billions of dollars in lost revenue.

That’s when CALES supporters stepped up, too. In recognition of Rock's tremendous impact on the grower community, a group of forward-thinking fresh produce growers, led by Duncan Family Farms, joined together to create the Endowed Extension Chair in Fresh Produce Safety to permanently secure expertise in this critical area.

"Channah's commitment to listening to our needs developed into meaningful research that gave us results we could quickly implement to improve our food safety practices," says Arnott Duncan, '82 CALES alumnus and chair of Duncan Family Farms, one of the nation's leading organic growers.

Duncan Family Farms' lead gift of $250,000 anchored the campaign for the endowed chair, starting a chain reaction of philanthropy that raised over $750,000. Rock, as the inaugural chair-holder, will be able access over $30,000 each year from the endowment to respond to emerging food safety crises without the need to seek grants. The funding will be used to support graduate students, travel, and emergency responses to pathogen outbreaks.

We're grateful to everyone who contributed, and we’re delighted to call them members of the CALES family.