© Courtesy Sunizona
When Janice Smith and her family moved to Southern Arizona from British Columbia in 1996, they wanted to grow their agricultural business. Although they started small — growing Long-English cucumbers in a greenhouse — the Smiths expanded their operations to grow a variety of vegetables. Today, they distribute about 95 percent of their vegan, certified-organic produce in Arizona, Smith says.
How is farming in Arizona different from farming in British Columbia?
There's a huge misconception in the North that if you go somewhere with lots of sunshine, all of your problems will be solved. But Arizona is actually quite a difficult climate to grow in. It's dry, it's windy and you have huge temperature swings. So, while the sunshine is wonderful to have, as a farmer, it's challenging.
How is organic, sustainable farming good for the state?
We're passionate about this. We're not polluting the environment with so many chemicals. We're working with the environment. We're not farmers to get rich. We're farmers to give people a better quality of life.
What are your most popular products?
I do wish we could grow more fruits. Our fruits are seasonal. Right now, we're limited to melons, cantaloupes and honeydews. We started growing raspberries, and they are very much in demand because we don't have many of them.
— Kathy Ritchie
Sunizona Family Farms is located at 5655 E. Gaskill Road in Willcox. For more information, call 520-824-3160 or visit www.sunizonafamilyfarms.com.
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