I just moved to Arizona less than1 year ago and since moving to the area have not had the usual access to farm fresh produce like I did living in Hawaii. Driving through Cottonwood one day I was surprised and excited to see a farm stand with a large sign that showcased the name, Fresh Start Farms. As expected the farm stand contained a small harvest of lettuce, chard, onions, and many other freshly grown vegetables.
While living in Hawaii and working on a farm I was able to learn and be educated on the importance of buying local and supporting our local farmers. The impact that choosing to buy produce can have on our local economy and the world can be astonishing..Needless to say there are dozens of reason to buy organic. I will share some links below of sites that I found to have some more in depth info on the matter.
I decided to ask the owner and Stewart of the property Jamie Moffett, for an interview and tour curious to learn more about the small farm and its owner. Jaime I found to be friendly, educated, humble, and one pointed in his effort to grow fresh food, which is what motivated me to share his story and bring some awareness to the small farm.
Are you certified organic?
“No, I am not certified organic. I grow naturally. Organic is a legal definition and unless I am legally
certified I cannot say I am organic. However I have some very good food”
..“my tomato’s taste like tomatoes are supposed to taste, and my corn is fantastic”
Why do you suppose it is so difficult for many farmers to get that certification that states you are certified organic?
“ Well they make it difficult for little guys like me, and they make it work for the larger corporations- so there you have it”.
How is what you are doing helping the environment and why do you think people should by organic or buy local? What are you thoughts?
“Well I try to stay away from the word, “should” so I am not saying what people should do. I am doing this for me and my girlfriend and our friends. And that’s because I think it taste better for one thing and I believe it is healthier. Taste and health go along together in many cases.
Have you noticed changes in your health since starting this farm?
"Well …I don’t know that I can attribute it to changes in my health. I have been living a healthy lifestyle for a long time. However, I am almost 75 years old and I am out here doing this pretty much by myself. Should other people do it? I cannot say what other people should do. But there are a lot of people my age that can hardly walk. Some of it is genetics and some of it is lifestyle."
How many acres is the property?
“The property is a little bit more than 1 acre and I am tilling a little bit more than half an acre.”
What are you mostly farming currently?
“I try to have a real diversity … so a lot of what I grow is not very profitable, but I grow them because we like them. Right now the main crop I have growing is corn. Over here you can see I am growing some watermelon. I have put up this electric fence around the corn because last year I lost half my crop to raccoons.”
“I have 6-8 different varieties of tomatoes”.
Has this business or farm been financially successful?
"With our food systems, which are subsidized and corporate systems the way they are set up, it is very difficult to compete against them. I can compete on quality but I cannot compete on price. I really have not made a living doing this in 5 years. So it is not financially viable at the scale I am doing it with my knowledge, which is pretty broad. It’s more a labor of love."
How long have you had this farm?
"5 seasons or about 5 years."
Do you hand weed the whole farm?
“Yes, you can see this row here I just hand weeded.”
-That’s a lot of weeding I commented …
This is why people use roundup is they kill the weeds off first and then they get a gmo corn that does not mind the roundup and unfortunately we don’t like roundup- its not good for us and gmo is not good for us. Monsanto can sue me for saying that
Where does your water come from that you use on the farm to water the plants and vegetables?
"The water comes from the irrigation ditch. You can see this is my gravity flow watering system and then I filter it off a bit. I root it off and I have several different ways of watering. This right here is just PVC pipe that I drilled holes in and put down the rows. The cottonwood ditch witch starts out in Clarkdale and is out of the Verde River. It services all the ranches for quite a few miles down through here. The ditch here goes right along the property line and it date back to the 1870’s. This area has been farmed and had cattle, mostly for many years."
Do you do all the labor on this farm by yourself?
Yes I work whenever I can. When I work the stand it limits what I can do but some days I have help on the stand. If I didn’t have this weed guard paper I would never be able to keep up with the weeds at all.
Did anyone in particular teach you how to farm or garden?
"Well I had my first garden when I was 5 years old my father used to like to garden. He liked to grow flowers and vegetables. He grew a lot of gladiolas. When I was 5 I would plant carrots and go out and pull up a carrot spit on it and wipe it on my blue jeans and eat it out of the garden. That is where I started. But then I did not do a whole lot of gardening until about 5 years ago."
Is there anywhere else on the farm you would like to show me and speak about?
"That pretty much covers most of what I am doing here. Thanks for stopping by. Thank you".
I would like to say thank you to Jaime Moffett for taking the time to walk me around the farm and answer my questions. I appreciate fresh start farms and want to say a big thank you for providing the community access to local fresh produce.
check out these great sites which will have more info (buying local and the impact it can have).
fresh start farms (for more info)