Urban Farms Are Essential

December 11, 2022, Gila Bend, AZ- The unruly young mare tried to nip her owner and got a slap on the nose and a sharp rebuke, from the no-nonsense mistress. There was not a bit of weakness in this woman, who has built a solid foundation for Maya’s Farm, based on what she learned up the road, at The Farm on South Mountain. I am always amused by an enterprise which begins with “The”, as if it is the only such enterprise of its kind, in a given area. Maya has done the leg work, networked with government, landowners and insurance companies, to create a second urban farm in south Phoenix. She is not done, and showed us a barren tract, nearby, which would fit nicely into her endeavour- largely backed by a Land Trust. She has little use for those who suggest cultivating a friendship with land developers, noting that all she has seen so far is fast-track housing, and nothing will change her viewpoint, anytime soon.

People go with what they experience. A child who gets a regular diet of whoop-ass is going to be either mean or skittish. A person raised to be heard, and affirmed, will grow to be confident, sassy at times, but quite solid. Maya, I think, has seen duplicity and underhandedness. Thus, she is wary of the buildings going up, just two blocks north, and of anyone who does not show “TLC” to the land.
The world needs a lot more Mayas.

Our tour, this afternoon, was called “Let’s Legume”, and featured tepary beans, Hopi Red Dye Amaranth, elephant garlic and various shade trees. The property is helped, through being bordered on the north by a grove featuring various palms. I can’t imagine living through the heat of May-October, and constantly working, but the farm crew does it. I met a few men and women who pledged their energy for the coming year. Maya does not take much time off, in terms of growing her crops, while also teaching full time, so such volunteers are a godsend.

The meal, of a grain “burger”, was one of the spiciest sandwiches I’ve had, in quite awhile, and was delectable. The fire was put out by a cup of well water, and a cookie that seemed to have nutmeg and cinnamon helped as well. Who says vegans have a bland diet?

After an hour or so at the salubrious farm, I headed west, then south, to this small farming community, at the southwest edge of Metro Phoenix. People here, where the summer temps get up to nearly 118 at times, would do well to plant shade trees and desert-hardy crops, at the level of the urban farms of south Phoenix. The Tohono O’odham, who live not far from here, are descended from people who did just that, for over a century.

Urban farms, run by serious entrepreneurs with intense energy, are essential to our survival in this period of climate change.

4 thoughts on “Urban Farms Are Essential

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