Slow Food Article about Agritopia!
March 4, 2014
TO LIVE SLOW
Slow Food International Founder Carlo Petrini recently wrote an article about the Agritopia Community and Farm. Thank you Natalie for translating the article into English for us!
Written By: Carlo Petrini
Translation By: Natalie Morris
Agritopia: Here is the experience rural (and urban) that has changed the life in Phoenix. Many organic products, vegetables gardens for everyone and a return to the earth.
To think of Arizona, one wants to immediately think of the Grand Canyon, one of the more awesome and famous places of the world. A gorge carved in the course of a thousand years from the Colorado River, that with its erosive action, had created one of the principal attractions for those travelers in search of a high rate of adventure.
But Arizona is also a state strongly characterized by agriculture. The semi-arid climate of this land has made it that man has had to engineer to find efficient systems to optimize the yield with minimum use of resources, one of them being, the water.
Yet today, although the agronomy and the agricultural technology have taken giant steps, in Arizona the report from man and nature remain extremely delicate. The scarcity of water and of fertile soil has concentrated the agricultural practices in the area to be more advantageous (which are today to accommodate the large cities), offering an environmental backdrop suitable for the emerging of a thriving agricultural community.
It is the urban agriculture community and center of activity of Agritopia, an interesting experience whose name is visible in the root of utopia that distinguishes the project from the inception.
The Johnston family acquired the farm, today the heart of Agritopia is in its 60th year, having gone through a period of transition from the culture of hay to the most profitable cotton and wheat. Thirty years later, it begins to be clear that the relentless expansion of the urban area of Phoenix would soon reach the area where the farm is and, here is the idea to plan some works that include housing, areas for the direct marketing of agricultural productivity, a restaurant and café, in order to preserve the typical lifestyle of the agricultural community of the Southwest.
Work began in 2000, and today Agritopia is an urban agriculture community, fully integrated in the Phoenix municipality. In the center there is still the farm and the community supports the activities by paying money in advance and then will receive the products of the land second, subject to its availability and seasonality. It is that which they call Community supported agriculture and one of the objectives is to encourage social interaction and exchange, making the citizens conscious of the significance of agricultural work. At Agritopia, it is also possible to rent some parcel of land to personally cultivate their own garden and the workers of the farm provide technical instruction and savoir faire (FR., meaning expertise). The entire production is organic, and the regeneration of the land/soils is based on a complex system of crop rotation. From the monoculture, it has passed to a wide biodiversity, with orchards, vegetable gardens and cereal crops.
Agritopia is one of the many examples of community agriculture practiced in Arizona and is the symbol of a growing sensibility towards sustainable food production, even also in a little fertile area such as the desert of the American Southwest.
Phoenix is the ideal base of departure for a visit of the State, and there is no shortage of gastronomic suggestions; the restaurant The Herb Box, in the suburb of Scottsdale, always offers seasonal dishes and is attentive to the territory, while D- Vine, in Mesa, is interesting also because of the presence in the wine cellars of some wineries of Arizona, where it exists a small but significant viticulture.