Blog

Urbanization in Arizona causes shrinking farms

When was the last time you drove by a farm? It may have been more recent than you think, and closer than you realize. Our reporters Alicia Longo and Jake Trybulski give us a look into the world of the incredible shrinking farm, right here in Phoenix.

Check out a farmers market in your neighborhood to support local farmers today.

Advertisements

Slideshow with the President of the Maricopa County Farm Bureau

Mark Freeman is the President of the Maricopa County Farm Bureau. Freeman is also the owner of Mark Freeman Farms and a Councilmember for the City of Mesa, Arizona.

Freeman has lived in the East Valley his entire life and has farming ties in the area since the late 1800’s. Freeman has seen firsthand how Arizona agriculture has changed over the years, and points to development as the biggest difference.

Tune in to find out more.

Incredible Shrinking Farms

When was the last time you drove by a farm?

It may have been more recent than you think, and closer than you realize.

Not everyone in the valley knows that Arizona’s agriculture is a huge part of our state economy. Even fewer may know that there are working farms all around and in the Phoenix valley itself.

Our reporter Danny Smitherman gives us a look into the world of the incredible shrinking farm, right here in Phoenix.

Keep your eyes out for farms near you!

East Valley Ag

IMAG0083That’s cotton, soon to be harvested, just east of Phoenix on Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community land. Finding fields of beautiful, puffy white cotton in the desert of Arizona is only one of many surprises and lessons in farming for our team as we travel around the valley to show you what agriculture looks like today.

We also visited with Mark Freeman on his 25-acre farm in the middle of suburban Mesa. His family, back in 1877, helped found Mesa. His grandfather and father farmed here, and so now does Mark.

We asked him, what keeps you farming?

“When you have it in your blood, it’s just pretty easy to just do it.”

He told us Arizona agriculture is not only a $20b a year and more industry, but it’s also growing, dollar wise. And per acre crop yield is not only high, but could go higher, in part due to mechanization and robotisizing.

Lots to learn, folks to talk with. We’ll keep you updated as we work!

Preliminary reporting with Marc Grossman, spokesperson for the Cesar Chavez foundation.

Early morning west of Phoenix, where fields spread out, around, and in between houses, roads, highways, airports, and sand and cactus. Farming began maybe a thousand years ago or more in this valley, at least as far back as the Hohokam people who first built canals that still serve Phoenix today.

It’s difficult to imagine, then, that the home of ancient farmers, and the birth- and death-place of Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers Union, boasts so few members. But times have changed some of the important elements of the time in the 60’s when Chavez and others were striking, boycotting, organizing and collectively bargaining for equitable pay, safe working conditions, and respect.

-Reporter Danny Smitherman

Arizona Farming: Phoenix’s West Valley and the UFW