Justice Brothers Ranch: Local food systems, co-ops and sustainable farming

Sustainable Food Students Stories

Justice Brothers Ranch: Local food systems, co-ops and sustainable farming

Walking onto the Justice Brothers Ranch, I could feel the Arizona sun beaming down on me, paired with the ongoing noise of airplanes flying over the Waddell area. It had been a long day of farm visits for my Sustainable Food Systems cohort. We had visited all larger, conventional farms earlier in the day, and we were looking forward to learning about what this farmer had to say about his citrus farm.

An edible landscape at ASU

If you know a thing or two about plants and tree species, you could find a lovely meal on the Arizona State University campus. You walk outside, and foods like oranges, olives, mint, rosemary, and many more surround you. Walking the ASU campus, our tour guide, Deborah Thirkhill, took us on a campus food journey that could be the future for more college campuses.

Hayden Mills: preserving heritage and cultivating community

Over the course of the fall 2023 Food and Farm Immersion, Hayden Flour Mills was one of the sites I was looking forward to visiting the most. The essence of Hayden Flour Mills mission is to shift consumers away from processed grains towards the natural, flavorful, and nutrient-rich products, which they achieve through the art of stone milling and the revival of heritage grains.

Beyond the factory: exploring sustainability and innovation at Paloma Dairy

Paloma Dairy host and farm owner Robert Van Hofwegen, Sr, begins our tour with a hint of fire and brimstone, “This is not a factory.”

Green waste recycling: transforming waste into a soil amendment

“Green waste” refers to organic waste that is generated from plants and other organic materials. While green waste from some sources, such as kitchen scraps, is easy to compost; other materials, such as tree stumps, branches and other woody yard waste are sizable and take longer to decompose, making their disposal a challenge.

School gardens and our future consumers

Nestled within the heart of Echo Canyon School in Scottsdale, AZ, there exists a vibrant oasis of greenery and learning—the school garden. On a recent visit to this unique educational sanctuary, our cohort had the pleasure of immersing myself in the beauty of nature, witnessing firsthand the importance of passing down knowledge and cocreating a space with our youth.

Sinagua Malt grows collaboration (and a barley economy) in the Verde Valley

In December 2023, our cohort of Sustainable Food Systems graduate students traveled to Camp Verde, Arizona, where we learned firsthand about the multi-sector “farm to growler” collaboration that is Sinagua Malt.

Hot topics in the hot sun

Under the bright glow of the afternoon sun, our motorcade of student-filled SUVs arrived at Nature Betteravia Farms in Yuma, AZ, for the second stop of the day. Our conversation with Mike Pasquinelli, a 3rd generation farmer and Yuma Fresh Vegetable Association President, revealed a peek into the challenges facing many farmers in this region.

Rooted in learning: Hands-on agricultural experiences for K-12

During the winter break of 2023, I had the opportunity to visit my hometown, Rio Rico, Arizona, and explore the agricultural program at my former high school. Located just north of the US-Mexico border, the town plays a crucial role in receiving and distributing agricultural products through international ports, contributing to the broader supply chain in the United States.

Redefining land management from ownership to stewardship

Amidst the partisan bickering about how to use agriculture to address environmental challenges sits a voice of reason: Yadi Wang, General Manager of Oatman Flats Ranch, owned by Dax Hansen, 30 miles west of Gila Bend, Arizona. Armed with a revolutionary approach to land management, he led our group on the first tour of the 2023 Arizona Farm Immersive.  

Vines and values: A visit to Alcantara Vineyard

Where the Verde River and Oak Creek converge lies Alcantara Vineyard, a "family-owned, sustainably-farmed, and passionately tended vineyard in the heart of Arizona wine country." Ron and Chris have been managing the 13-acre, 22,000 vines since 2018, transitioning from conventional practices to sustainable ones.

ASU Carbon Summit: Food systems discussion and panel

The inaugural Carbon Summit, hosted at ASU's Rob and Melani Walton Center for Planetary Health, served as an informative showcase of sustainable solutions spanning five themes that were all on display through presentations and panels: food systems, energy transitions, circular economies, climate adaptation, and sustainability.