Volcano Veggies lands Wells Fargo prize

Bend-based aquaponics startup won $25,000 in a nationwide contest.

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A Bend-based aquaponics startup won $25,000 in a nationwide contest held by Wells Fargo.

Volcano Veggies plans to grow with a third growing system with the money.

Doug Case, Wells Fargo small business segment manager, said the Sbarras’ focus on their business mission impressed the selection panel. That, and the way the couple explained their company origins, Case said. Their interest in fresh, healthy food arose when Pam Sbarra, James’ mother, was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, according to the Volcano Veggies contest essay. The Sbarras wanted to support Pam Sbarra in her fight by switching with her to a healthier diet. Yet, they found their local grocery store in Wyoming provided little in the way of a fresh selection of vegetables. They set out to build a business that solved that problem for communities in cold environments.

“That was a great story and it was told in a concise way,” Case said. “And they were very clear about what they would do with the prize money and how they could benefit from mentorship.”

(SOURCE: Bend Bulletin)

The influx of cash will help the company come closer to meeting demand.

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