Know Your Farmer: Aravaipa Creekside Growers
It all started with an experiment: growing a small garden on an apartment balcony. Nicole and Andrew have always been involved in food throughout their lives. Nicole started volunteering on an organic farm in Long Island in her early 20’s. Andrew has been cooking since he was a teenager and spent a large part of his career as a cook in vegetarian restaurants.
In 2009, the pair moved to Arizona, working various jobs and volunteering at a friend’s farm stand. They had been experimenting with growing oyster mushrooms and, in 2010, were able to harvest enough to sell at the farm stand. Their business mushroomed, so to speak, with the purchase of a custom shed that eventually was moved to their five acres in the Aravaipa area. When they talk of the move from Tucson to Aravaipa, the most harrowing experience was the transporting of the custom mushroom shed to the farm as the movers had a difficult time navigating the turn down into the valley. The shed teetered precariously on the edge of the truck. Luckily for the pair, the shed did make it safely to its permanent placement on the farm.
When asked how they came to choose Aravaipa Creek, both spent many months searching for property that would support their dream of owning a small diversified farm. They had specific goals in mind, including that the land must have an ample clean water supply, exceptional soil, and temperate weather conditions. The property was perfect with one exception: Bermuda Grass. The weeding of the grass was a foreseen issue, but one they felt was worth the effort.
Aside from weeding, the farm has given Andrew and Nicole the satisfaction of growing their produce, flowers and many lifelong memories. They speak fondly of watching the summer monsoons roll in as the butterflies and bees play among the rows of blooming flowers, of finding a herd of cows in their fields all because Nicole left the gate open overnight, and of Andrew sleeping in the field to ward off wayward coyotes and javelinas from stealing their juicy watermelons. Look for Aravaipa Creekside Growers at our Sunday Rillito Park Farmers Market. Be sure to ask how Nicole is faring at becoming a cow wrangler. You just may get a wonderful peek at their lives on the farm!
If you are wanting more tales of Nicole and Andrew’s adventures on the farm, you can read their blog at www.aravaipacreeksidegrowers.wordpress.com.