Tragically, the loss of farmlands is an ever present and dire threat. Between 2012 and 2017, the number of farms statewide fell 5%, but in Maricopa County the decline was much higher at 24%. And in the past year alone, we have lost over 200 acres of prime farmland from small growers. As the fifth largest City in the country, Phoenix continues to experience unprecedented population growth and intense development pressure. As such, the risk of losing jewels like Maya’s Farmland, will undeniably increase.
Fortunately, there are efforts to combat the loss of prime farms, which not only support our economy, maintain our local food supply and life-giving healthy soils, but also provide open space, support critical wildlife habitat and migratory corridors.
In June, the Phoenix City Council approved a budget that included $1,000,000 for the Farmland Preservation Program (within its Phoenix Resilient Food System Program) to achieve healthy food for all and a long-term resilient system by conserving agricultural property within the City of Phoenix. The funds for this program are from the federal American Rescue Plan Act, Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds.
CALT will administer this program, including allocation of grant funding to eligible individuals/entities that desire to place an agricultural conservation easement* (see the definition below) on their property.
If you own farmland in Phoenix, meet the eligibility requirements in the application, and are interested in becoming involved, submit the application to Sharma Torrens, Conservation Specialist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please call Sharma with questions at 602-540-5331.
For those of you not familiar with Maya’s Farm, it is in south Phoenix. Small but mighty, this picturesque 3.3-acre farm practices organic and sustainable production methods, which result in healthy soil, and clean air, positively impacting carbon sequestration and climate change. Like other urban farms in the Phoenix metro area, Maya’s Farm helps maintain our local food supply, provides open space, and supports critical wildlife habitat. The farm is highly valued for its community involvement and impact.
Maya obtained organic certification for the farm in 2013. Organic compost nurtures the soil, yielding high-quality specialty vegetables, herbs, flowers, and eggs for local markets, restaurants, and schools. A mainstay at local farmers markets, Maya engages in a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program for 200 members and other interested neighbors. She is pivotal in Arizona’s Farm to School efforts as well as in educational efforts for students of all ages.
Growing nutritious and delicious food is what Maya has been doing for our community and hopes to continue doing for many years to come with your help.