Sunday, January 22, 2017

Winter Trip to Visit Arizona Ag

I had such an amazing opportunity through the New Jersey Ag Leadership Program to attend the National Farm Bureau Conference in Phoenix, AZ two week ago. 

I then took it upon myself to road trip from:

Phoenix, AZ >> Sedona, AZ>> Flagstaff,AZ >> Farmington, NM >>Santa Fe, NM >> 
Lubbock, TX >> Waco, TX >>Austin, TX >>>>> Home! 

And what a trip it was! 

I'm going to post about the most agricultural part of my trip which was Arizona.

Arizona is known for it's 5 C's: Cotton, Cattle, Citrus, Copper and Climate
Notice how important agriculture is to Arizona as farmers get 3 of the 5 C's. 

My first taste of Arizona was walk through a development near our hotel where I found a little dream house complete with strands of chile lights. Yes Please! 

Before our group arrived my friend Jake from Windy Brow Farm and I flew out early and decided to embark on a journey to pretty much the boarder of Mexico to the Organ Pipe National Monument Park.  I highly recommend this destination on your next trip to Arizona. 

Organ Pipe National Monument:

arrow is Jake and I, green is USA and the grid is Mexico

Visiting the Cactus National Monument was one of my favorite parts of the trip
Some Cacti Facts: 
Did you know that it takes the Saguaro Cactus between 75-100 years to grow it's first arm. Cacti will reach their full height of between 45-70 feet around 200 years of age. How incredible is that?!

Saguaro cacti ONLY grow in the Sonoran Dessert. No where else on Earth. 

A 10 year old cactus is about 1 - 1.5 inches tall. Which I hope gives you an incredible respect for these guys. Apparently it's quite a process growing that large.

Guests of the Organ Pipe Nation Monument are welcome to hike trails which we did, as well as camp in a camper or tent camp. I am already planning a tent camping trip!  

pictured here are organ pipe cacti

a gorgeous Saguaro Cactus with many arms and many years lived

using myself for scale you can really see how large the cacti are

Farm Bureau Conference: 
Over 3,000 farmers arrived in Phoenix, AZ for the National Farm Bureau Conference as a chance to speak to what changes need to happen in agriculture and to learn.  Upon arriving you instantly thought (being from NJ) holy cow real life cowboy culture is still alive and that you were at a revival of sorts from both the look and the energy in the room.

While at the conference we were able to choose from a long list of classes to attend on topics ranging from marketing to GMO's to immigration. There was also a vast trade show with all kinds of fun wears to check out.

national farm bureau conference
As part of our Ag Leadership trip and as part of the conference we got to tour some amazing farms and really get a feel for Arizona agriculture!
The Orange Patch: 
The gorgeous Orange Patch is a family farm and one of the few orange production operations left in Mesa, AZ. Their business is based off their store at the farm and from families around the United States. They ship their oranges all over the county and after trying their orange juice and eating countless oranges one my trip I know why. They are so fresh and fragrant and bright sun-shiney goodness.  

They actually grow their own trees which they use in their own orchard as well as wholesale to nurseries for people to buy for their backyard.  It's hard to miss the glorious fact that most people have an orange or lemon tree (or both...swoon!) in their back yard in Phoenix which I am incredibly jealous of. 

The Orange Patch while not advertising it's no-spray-ness actually has not sprayed their orchard in several years.  

And...I got to pick my very own orange. They are not u-pick but they 
made one of my trip bucket list wish come true!   

grapefruit tree

just picked oranges waiting to be graded and shipped all over the country

Olive Oil and Roses: 
We were able to visit Queen Creek Olive Oil which is quite a tourist attraction if you find yourself in Phoenix area. They offer an olive oil tasting and a huge range of olive oil products.

I was incredibly excited to tour 2 rose farms while we were in AZ. We toured the nations largest rose farm and stood in a field of 8 million newly planted roses.  On the last day of our trip we got to visit a slightly smaller rose farm who grows David Austin Roses among many others. 

All of these roses are sold bare root (not in a pot) to a wholesaler who then sells them to nurseries and big box stores. 

Here is an interesting/show stopping fact: The end store charges about $18.00 for any given rose bush as an average. The farmer who's payroll is over $100,000 a WEEK makes $1.50 per rose bush. Wow! That just gives you an idea of the organization, volume, and dedicated staff it takes to make these operations work.

roses are mowed off, dug, tried in bunches of 10 and counted

tied bunches waiting to be tagged with variety

millions of roses and those mountains! 

Danzeisen Dairy not only has the cutest milk truck in town but has an amazing array of milk rootbeer milk (like a rootbeer float) and orange milk (think creamsicle) and of coarse good ole' chocolate milk. Their dairy is actually right down the street from their processing plant. 

Dairy fact: Each cow they have wears a pedometer (a cow fitbit if you will) and this tracks each cows steps daily and based on those steps lets the farmer know when the cow is ready to be inseminated.  

Donkeys and Hot Sauce: 
On one of our day tours we visited the Ass Kickin' Hot Sauce plant. They used to grow all of their chile peppers around their warehouse but have since moved pepper production to New Mexico. After touring their facility I got to give kisses to their mascots. 

meet Hershey

Farmers Market: 
I love the farmers market! I love not only being a vendor but a shopper as fact any chance I get to visit a market I do. I love to experience new things and share ideas with fellow farmers and vendors. 

The Uptown Phoenix Farmers Market did not disappoint. This market run on Saturdays and Wednesdays each week October - April. 

display obsessed

this farm on the right had 20 tents and a full crew of people wearing ear pieces and radios...impressive!
 That summarizes the 6 days in Phoenix...head over to Instagram for me moments of the trip!


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