There's new life -- literally -- at an old citrus nursery on 12th Street just north of Glendale Ave. in North Central Phoenix. It's the brand new Urban Farm Nursery (the first all edible nursery in Phoenix) and its education component, The Home Ec Department. In the somewhat near future, the spot will also include two new restaurants, a coffee shop, event space, loads of parking (over 100 spots) and an orchard with stone fruit trees.
Greg Peterson, Heather Taylor, and Shannon Boomer are heading up the current activities. You may not recognize Peterson by name, but he's got quite the resume as Phoenix's original Urban Farmer. Co-founder of the Valley Permaculture Alliance, Peterson had more than 55 speaking engagements in just a month and a half at the end of last year. Wow.
He knew that the home gardening landscape was changing when over 325 people attended his discussion at Changing Hands about "Starting Your Own Urban Farm." He usually pulls in 30 or 40 people at these types of events. Heading up the activities at the nursery is Heather Taylor, a well-known, well-spoken grower who has worked with Bob McClendon and chefs around town helping them with their own backyard gardens.
Boomer is in charge of arranging the classes at the Home Ec Department. Right now, you can find classes like lesson planning for sustainable living educators, growing food, and sewing 101.
Future classes will include cooking classes taught by Arizona produce champion Chef Aaron Chamberlin. The Home Ec Department will encompass whole life skills like growing, food prep, cooking, preserving, saving seeds, and movement classes. They have already completed several classes in poi, which is the art of fire spinning -- not making mashed taro root.
The idea to create the Home Ec Department originally inspired the threesome to come together. Peterson got the call that the nursery space was available, and it all seemed to fall into place.
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John Kitchell spoke at the first public event held at The Urban Farm Nursery earlier this week, organized by The Fusion Foundation. The longtime local builder spoke passionately about his intention of creating "gathering places" and "energy centers" with his redevelopment company to create "points of pride" and "renewed life" for current spaces. He and his partner Lorenzo Perez have big plans for this space.
You might know one of their previous projects -- a little place called Windor/Churn.
Note to any city officials reading this: We'd really love it if you could help make this happen pronto.