Arizona, Arizona, Driving Food Home: Part II, Visits

Agritopia (Gilbert, AZ)

IMG_0477

After purchasing a fifty-acre parcel from the original homesteaders in the 1960’s, Jim and Virginia Johnston continued cultivation of the acreage producing wheat, cotton, and sugar beets while raising three sons in what was rural Arizona. With rapid development in the 90’s, the Johnston’s sought to foresee how their farm would fit into the rapid expansion of a more “modern” Gilbert. Twenty miles outside of Phoenix, Gilbert, AZ is now part of an expansive grid of suburban America. Agritopia, described as a “modern-day village,” is vastly different from anything Driving Food Home has explored thus far.

IMG_0424

This site is one of many “agrihoods” popping up all over the country; these are developments that, instead of installing a pool or golf course as the common space, are based around farms. Zoned for agriculture, homeowners can have their own businesses in their backyards as an extended structure of their homes as well as their own chickens. This site has 450 family homes, a handful of businesses, and 15 acres of hand-cultivated certified organic vegetable, animal and fruit production. Also, the farm at Agritopia offers a three month payed internship as well as a year long apprenticeship both of which include staple foods.  Agritopia has community garden for both the Agritopia community itself as well as the extended community.  Well manicured, the farm and garden fits in well to the surrounding neighborhood.

IMG_0436

Erich, the current farm manager, has worked hard to establish an on-site staple foods market, focusing on providing a staple foods diet with whole chickens, ducks, sheep, eggs, heritage wheat berries and flour form their small scale grain operation (they were part of the new film, The Grain Divide), olive oil made by monks at a monastery south of Gilbert, and cheeses from local artisan cheese producers. This weekly market brings residents of Agritopia and the other surrounding neighborhoods, helping encourage community integration in an environment where often people don’t get to know their neighbors. Along with a CSA that serves both on-site and off-site residents, Agritopia also has a 24-hour honors based farm stand that is nestled in a community where the alternative option for purchasing grocery items is the Wal Mart down the block.

IMG_0447

Although patterned as a standard diversified farm (something that Driving Food Home normally wouldn’t highlight due to the sheer volume of these types of operations found throughout the country), Agritopia works with a misadvised and extensive social niche, one that deserves attention. The Farm at Agritopia is serving an important demographic in looking at how to integrate awareness of the importance of localized food production in a suburban environment.

IMG_0438

About Driving Food Home

The articles published by the Collective between June and September 2014 were written collaboratively by Ali Mediate, Sarah Anderson, Evelyn Block, and Sera Deva. Articles published by the Collective through November and December 2014 were written collaboratively by Rachael Saland and Sera Deva.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: