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Urban Agriculture in Tucson

July 14, 2015 , , , , ,

Ophelia Camera Shy

Ophelia Camera Shy

In Tucson we have a harsh climate and sparse rain, both of which make gardening a challenge. Arizona had thriving agricultural crops until the ground water became too scarce and too deep to pump to the surface for many growers. Around Phoenix one can find large citrus groves abandoned, full of dead mature trees. It is a sad sight. Our large pecan groves are starting to compete for water with the surrounding residential users. Since the water is finite this problem will only increase with time. Our state needs to be very conservative with water, finding solutions to feed the population without depleting the water table.  We are lucky that Nogales, Arizona is the main port for Mexican produce into the states.  Most of the year we are able to buy deeply discounted produce from Mexico which is brought to Tucson by the Santa Cruz County Food Bank to save it from the landfill.

In Tucson there is a thriving urban agriculture movement. Small growers and producers are encouraged to bring produce to market through some innovative programs operated by the Community Food Bank Southern Arizona .  The Food Conspiracy and Native Seed Search are strong supporters of local gardens as well as purveyors of local products.  This enriches our community by supporting options that decrease food waste and the costs of food storage and transport.  What could be better than allowing fruits to ripen on the vine, then harvesting them for dinner in your own back yard?  Not everyone can have a garden, but those who do add to the beauty and sustainability of the neighborhood.

I like to garden, but many folks around town enjoy keeping hens for eggs.  My neighbor Heidi had 6 lovely  chickens in her back yard for many years.  Suddenly the city zoning department demanded that she remove the chickens and tear down their home.  This was in response to some complaint which  can’t be traced to any neighbor.  There are laws on the books that are never enforced unless somebody complains.  The chicken rules have been ignored, then randomly enforced when complaints are made.  This has become some kind of political football.  Finally after many years of working on a new proposal that is more friendly to small time egg farmers the issue will come to a vote by our city council.  The final touches of the zoning committee will be presented to the mayor and council for review and decisions.  The Tucson Clucks are organizing and hoping that all their illicit coops will be permitted to stay in place.  I think it is not only reasonable, but good for the city to promote food growing that does not disturb neighbors.  Roosters will still be outlawed because of the potential noise, but responsible chicken owners will no longer be outlaws.

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Reblogged this on Milieunet.

Liked by 1 person


July 15, 2015

We have a food bank of sorts.. and 3-4 farmers market around our city, Sun, Wed, Thurs, Fri . It’s great to see so many farmers but also other vendors too.
I know the issues around chickens because it’s hard to stop with just one…. and soon there are 7-12..
it’s all crazy trying to get the rules/codes straight and enforced.

Liked by 1 person

Stevie Wilson

July 17, 2015

how very sad. I’m glad things are changing!!!


July 18, 2015

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