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Visit a Farm
People are becoming increasingly interested in how they can maintain sustainable and environmentally-friendly practices even when they are on vacation or traveling for business. In the Phoenix area, you'll discover a myriad of choices you can make to experience a more natural, ecologically positive adventure while supporting local enterprises.
Visit a Farm
Whether you were raised in a concrete jungle or know how to milk a cow, the Phoenix area affords a variety of opportunities to enjoy the farm experience.
At Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek, you can start a family tradition! From September through June you can visit the 300-acre working farm and pick or dig your own organic vegetables - carrots, broccoli, squash, cabbage greens and more. If you don't want to go out into the fields to pick your own, the fruit and vegetable stand at the Country Store makes it easy for you. All year long there are train rides, a petting zoo, and play areas. Schnepf Farms is well-known for hosting some of the largest community events in the area. In the spring people flock to the farm to pick fresh peaches during the annual Peach Festival, and the Pumpkin and Chili Festival in the fall is a tradition for families from all over the Valley of the Sun.
In Mesa, Superstition Farm is a working dairy farm. You won't be picking anything here (well, maybe you'll pick up a live chicken), but you might see a newborn calf! There are farm tours, a petting zoo, hayrides and a weekly pop-up market of local products. Make room for some of their fresh ice cream, available right there in the farm store or at Udder Delights in Gilbert.
Hayden Flour Mills at Sossaman Farms in Queen Creek is a family-owned operation, dedicated to growing heritage, non-hybrid grains with no preservatives that are herbicide and pesticide-free and with minimal processing. Check the website for classes or scheduled tours. You can find their products at local specialty grocery stores like Sprouts (headquartered in Arizona) and Whole Foods. Do you remember what real (not instant) oatmeal tastes like? Try theirs!Continue to 2 of 5 below.
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If you'll be dining out during your stay, I recommend trying one of the many establishments in the Phoenix area that are locally-owned and operated, that make that extra effort to support local agriculture, employ eco-friendly practices and, of course, provide an exemplary dining experience.
House of Tricks is a restaurant in downtown Tempe. It was never a brothel, nor are there magicians performing there (except maybe in the kitchen). The owners are Robin and Robert Trick who purchased the cottage and subsequently added the house next door to the business. The Chef at House of Tricks scours local farmers' markets weekly, creating menu items from locally-sourced products. The restaurant also participates in the recycling of food waste into compost through an innovative program organized by Recycled City in Phoenix. In that way, the food waste from the restaurant is collected to be made into compost instead of going to a landfill. By collecting food waste to create compost, House of Tricks takes Farm-to-Table one step further: Farm-to-Table-to-Farm. House of Tricks is near Arizona State University's Main Campus in Tempe. The menu is creative, the food delicious and attractively presented. I highly recommend it for a special occasion lunch or dinner. Make reservations -- the patio is popular!
Another unique place to dine while supporting businesses that emphasize local products and sustainable practices is Gertrude's at Desert Botanical Garden. You can learn about our amazing desert environment at DBG and then discuss your garden experience over a lovely meal at Gertrude's. Breads are locally produced, and the majority of the produce used here is from local farms, such as Seacat Farms, Blue Sky Farms, Queen Creek Olive Mill, and Black Mesa Ranch. Beans, eggs, cheeses, oils, vinegars, and more are sourced locally. Where do they get their specialty flours? From Hayden Flour Mills, of course! Fresh herbs and vegetables on your plate might very well have been sourced from their patio and the community garden located at the Desert Botanical Garden. Gertrude's also participates in the Recycled City composting program, collecting food waste that will be converted to compost for local farms. You may dine at Gertrude's even if you are not visiting the garden (but don't miss the garden!) for lunch and dinner during the week, and brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Reservations are recommended.
Looking for a more leisurely place to have your farm-to-table experience? Joe's Farm Grill in Gilbert fits that bill. Joe Johnston, a catalyst for Gilbert's growth in the past few decades, presents American food with fresh ingredients, some of which is sourced from Agritopia, the farm right next door. Joe's Farm Grill was featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. A favorite destination for families, there are picnic tables and plenty of outdoor space for little ones to expend some energy. Stop at the Farm Stand next door if you want to pick up some fresh produce before you leave.Continue to 3 of 5 below.
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Arizona Brews and Wine
Order an Arizona Growler
When visiting Arizona it isn't difficult to support the local breweries -- there are about 150 of them! The Arizona Craft Brewers Guild is a great place to locate a brewery near you. Not only are they local businesses making unique beverages, but some of them are especially focused on sourcing local ingredients. For example, Arizona Wilderness Co. in Gilbert has created more than 65 beers with local ingredients -- you might find the brewmaster wandering around the state looking for fresh herbs and berries for special seasonal brews. They will help you to create a flight of tasty libations that have that local flair -- just ask! When checking out the menu, you'll notice that many of the food items also feature local products. Stop by on Wednesdays for a special locally-focused menu featuring in-season ingredients.
If you are lucky enough to be visiting during Arizona Beer Week in February or Brewfest in March take the opportunity to sample many of Arizona's favorites. Alternatively, you can arrange for a tour of a few local breweries with Arizona Brewery Tours. Let them do the driving while you do the tasting.
Arizona Wines? Yes!
Arizona shares its love of local production with visitors not only at the breweries but also at the vineyards. Yes, Arizona has some perfect soils and conditions for wine production. If you prefer the grape to the hops you can find your bliss at local tasting rooms, or, even better, take a day trip to visit Arizona wineries and tasting rooms in Southern Arizona as well as wine tasting experiences in the Verde Valley, just a couple hours north of Phoenix. Each year at The Grand Wine Festival (November) awards are distributed to Arizona wine producers.
Arizona wines and brews can be found at bars, restaurants, retailers, and grocers all over the Phoenix area.Continue to 4 of 5 below.
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The Greater Phoenix area has an agricultural history, but certainly, the development of the area -- Phoenix is the sixth most populous city in the country -- has seen many of the farms engulfed by commercial and residential development. The relatively recent trend of supporting local agricultural and sustainability supportive businesses has created a renewed interest in agriculture, and Arizona is eager to share these experiences with our visitors.
An Entire Town Makes Agritainment Its Project
The Town of Queen Creek in the East Valley has designated more than 240 acres for the development of an "Agritainment District" where the agricultural nature of the area will be complemented and enhanced by recreational and open space uses as well as commercial and residential synergy.
Unique Farm Concepts
Agritopia, previously mentioned in relation to Joe's Farm Grill, is a community of single-family homes dubbed by the New York Times as the leading "agrihood" in the country. Residents may grow their own crops in the community garden, some of which is designated as a certified organic farm. You can visit the farm on walking paths near the farm stand.
One of the greatest success stories relating to local agriculture is Queen Creek Olive Mill, a family-owned and operated working olive mill producing high-quality extra virgin olive oil and other products from more than 7,000 olive trees. You can participate in a tour there where you will learn how the olive oil is made, you can shop for olives, oils, vinegars, and even spa products formulated from olives. You may purchase Arizona wines and Hayden Flour Mills products there. You can enjoy a lovely meal at the restaurant, try local craft beers and enjoy musical entertainment on select evenings. Check their calendar for some of their annual events, like the Garlic Festival and Olivepalooza.
While you are visiting the Phoenix area, you might be surprised at the number of Farmers' Markets all over town. Some are large, some are small, some are seasonal. Some are strictly about offering produce for sale, some include crafts and activities for the kids. Farmers' Markets aren't really about getting a bargain, but they are about supporting local growers and producers. Read the labels and make sure the products you are buying are local!
During your visit, stop by one of several community gardens that are operating in various parts of town. For example, Mesa Urban Garden is a community garden that holds several classes events during the year, and the public is invited to attend. The garden is just a couple of blocks away from a Valley Metro Rail station!Continue to 5 of 5 below.
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Yes, we hope you'll do some shopping while you are visiting Arizona! Naturally, you'll buy local olive oils, crackers, and wine to take home with you. But what about the other items? Good news: we have plenty of opportunities for you to shop local and be eco-conscious while you are visiting Arizona.
A favorite gift shop in the Phoenix area is located in Downtown Chandler. Sibley's West, family-owned and operated, has more than 200 suppliers of Arizona gifts and products. You won't find more a larger variety anywhere else. Get jellies, soaps and lotions made from local products for Mom; tee shirts, snack foods and salsas for Dad, candies and games for the kids; glassware, wine accessories and holiday ornaments for the spouse; Arizona- and desert-themed books for the boss' kids; note cards and home decor items for yourself!
Clothing and Decor
Discarded clothing uses valuable resources in the recycling process. Wouldn't it be easier to keep clothing out of the landfill by letting someone else use it? The EPA estimates that the average person throws out 81 pounds of textiles each year, 95 percent of which could have been given a second life. Shopping at a thrift store like Savers can help shoppers build their wardrobes while reducing the negative impact on our planet. Savers, while not locally owned, makes a concerted effort to support environmentally-friendly activities in the communities that it serves. There are locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Peoria, Chandler, and Gilbert. Donated items are sorted into four categories: (1) items that can be sold at retail, (2) items that cannot be sold at retail but can be repurposed (e.g. cloth with holes being converted to rags), (3) items that are too damaged to be put on the sales floor but can be sold to recycling partners (plastic, metal, etc.), and (4) items that can be responsibly disposed of through waste management partners. The items that fall into categories 2-4 may be used by homeless shelters or literacy groups to make sure the goods not sold in stores are reused and don't end up in a landfill. In Phoenix, Savers has nonprofit partnerships with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arizona and Bosom Buddies of Arizona. A thrift store like Savers might be the perfect place for any frugal, eco-friendly traveler looking to find unique Arizona clothing, décor or other trinkets.
Other thrift stores in the area include the Salvation Army Thrift Store and the Thrift Store for the Arizona Humane Society. Both support worthwhile causes!
More Eco-Friendly Considerations
Waste Not Arizona picks up perishable food from restaurants, grocers, schools, churches and hotels and delivers that food -- more than 6,000 pounds every day -- to about 100 agencies that feed the hungry in our communities. If you'd like to support those businesses, you can see a list of them here. Locally-owned markets that participate are Bashas', Food City and Sprouts. Local restaurants involved with the program include Roaring Fork in Scottsdale and Stockyards in Phoenix. If you'd like to stay at a resort that also shares this community spirit, The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, and the Wigwam Golf Resort & Spa are Waste Not Arizona contributors.
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Enjoy your visit to Arizona! We hope that while you are here you take the opportunity to frequent our local businesses, farms, and restaurants that are working diligently to change the way we look at our food and our environment.
All dates, times, prices and offerings are subject to change without notice. Business relationships mentioned in this article may change.