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greg peterson - urban farm maverick
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Best of the Valley
Greg Peterson - Urban Farm Maverick
November, 2012, Page 114
Photo by Brian Goddard
Set on 1/3-acre of North Central Phoenix sprawl – and blooming with a rich floral palette, a smorgasbord of fresh vegetables, and more than 60 fruit trees – Greg Peterson’s Urban Farm is not only an edible oasis but a classroom. Offering dozens of monthly classes and initiatives, Peterson is on a mission to jump start the “local food economy movement” and create at least 10,000 urban farms across the Valley.
Peterson has grown his own food since grade school and currently cultivates between 30 and 50 percent of what he eats during any given month. And with two types of solar panels and a thermal water-heating system, he’s taken self-sufficiency to the next level. “Really, what I’ve done is design the Urban Farm as a showcase so people can come see what they can do,” Peterson says. “What they’re getting is a landscaped yard that – oh, by the way – is edible or supports edibles.”
Through his community-driven Root Phoenix nursery, Peterson and his colleagues teach the public about topics such as gardening, composting, and even raising chickens (which has proven to be one of the program’s most popular offerings). He also co-designed a 200-hour urban farming certificate program through the Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe and is heavily involved with the sustainability program at Arizona State University.
The recent convergence of locavorism, recession-spawned economizing, and a prep-for-imminent-disaster mentality means the time is ripe for an urban farm movement. It’s as if Peterson consulted a cultural almanac. “People are hungry to know where their food comes from and to grow their own food, and they’re coming out in masses,” he says. “We are literally in the midst of a food revolution.”
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