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Granite Creek Vineyard: A Model of Conservation

Granite Creek Vineyard: A Model of Conservation

More and more people are finding organic foods readily available down the aisles of their local grocery store.  Kit and Robin Hoult do their part in contributing to the organic market.  They have been ahead of the curve and growing organically since 1974.  Starting with an abandoned dairy farm, a lonely cottonwood tree, and a passion for gardening, the farm is now beaming with life.  Their passion has continued to fuel the thriving 15 acre organic vineyard and produce garden for nearly four decades.

The Hoult’s have been a model of conservation during their time on the farm.  Granite Creek Vineyard was the first USDA certified organic farm in Arizona.  They continue to find and use new ways to utilize and conserve their land. With the technical and financial assistance provided by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), the Hoult’s completed a 2100sq. ft. high tunnel in April. 

 

A New Perspective at the Sands Ranch

A New Perspective

Sisters, Marilyn Harris and Kathy Williams own the Sands Ranch, a cow-calf operation on 100 sections of private, state, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service and Pima county lands in Whetstone, Arizona. 

The historic Sands Ranch began with their grandfather, Louis Sands who moved to Arizona from Michigan in 1902. He began to buy ranchland in 1917. Louis Sands was a great horseman and passed on his passion for horses and his ranch to his children and grandchildren. Marilyn and Kathy are third generation ranchers and are proud to be the owners and operators of the Sands Ranch for the past 15 years. They work hard to continue the legacy their grandfather left behind of maintaining a successful family operated ranch.

It is unique to see women own and manage a full ranching enterprise and when asked what about the ranch they like most, Marilyn replied, “For me it is our heritage and the love for livestock and the land. Our grandfather had a vision and I want to help carry that out. It is about keeping a legacy alive”...

 

King family uses their history to have a greater future!

Looking to the Past to Better Conserve the Future

The Anvil Ranch dates back to the 1890’s.  Owners John and Pat King share with pride the history and legacy the ranch has carried for four generations. 

“The long term history of the ranch is interesting and carries great value,” said Joe King, youngest of John and Pat King’s children and fourth generation rancher.  “We know what the ranch was like before us and what it is capable of being. Ranching is what we do.  I don’t know any other way.”

Turning a few pages back in Anvil Ranch history, cases of severe drought, supplementing water sources and managing grazing lands were all significant issues...

 

Tedd Haas and his family put conservation in action.

Conservation of Family, Lifestyle and the Land

If you have something of value to protect, the dictionary tells us you are involved in conservation. Conservation is defined as:

1. protection of valued resources: the preservation, management, and care of natural and cultural resources
2. protection from change: the keeping or protecting of something from change, loss, or damage.

Conservation runs through the life of Tedd Haas – conservation of family, lifestyle, and the land. “I have always had a spot for conservation because I believe in stewardship of the resources God has provided us with,” said Tedd. “You like and love the land. You earn your income that way, and you take care of it. It becomes a part of you.” ...

 

Hopi 3 Canyon Ranches use NRCS Conservation Stewardship Program.

Working Hard to Ensure a Positive Future:  Hopi 3 Canyon Ranches

Barbed wire wrapped around wooden posts is seen throughout ranch country.  The hands and the sweat of hardworking ranchers and their cowboys are to thank for the miles of fences being there. Barbed wire fences aren’t flashy or mechanically engineered.  They are practical.  They are a tool.  They are the backbone of managing ranchland...  

 

Conservation at its best in the Bonita Grasslands - Restoring native grasslands.

Conservation Vision:  Bonita Grasslands

Three years ago, Wilma had an idea for a conservation project located in Northern Cochise County and in Southern Graham County in an area classified as Southern Arizona semi-desert grassland.  Where vast herds of antelope used to live was found barren of fresh sign of their existence.  Southeastern Arizona is known for its diverse bird species.  One of its permanent residents, the scaled quail, was also showing declined numbers.  It didn’t take Wilma long to identify the correlation between increased invasive mesquite populations and the diminishing antelope and scaled quail populations...

 

Ariz. Dairy works with NRCS to help improve their air quality.

Joharra Dairy:  What is Takes to be a Good Neighbor

It is delicious.  Be it in a bowl of cereal, chilled in a tall glass, or in an ice cream cone, milk is a commodity loved by many.  However, as we enjoy our three servings of dairy each day, Joe Serrano, part owner of Joharra Dairy in Casa Grande, Ariz., is working hard to maintain healthy and productive dairy cows. 

The Joharra Dairy is located in the center of Casa Grande.  What used to be wide-open-spaces around the dairy are now filled with housing developments.  Casa Grande is growing quickly and urban sprawl is one of the toughest challenges facing the dairy...

 

Farmer in Florence, Ariz. works with NRCS to land level his fields.

Farmer Utilizes NRCS Resources

Long days in the field intensify as the suns powerful rays beat down. Acres of alfalfa and cotton appear through the heat waves with soil cracking at the surface, awaiting irrigation.  This is a typical image of farming in the middle of summer in Florence, Ariz.  Though at times the job is gruesome, Dennis Bagnall of Morning Star Farms wouldn’t choose any other lifestyle.

“Sure there are other things I could do, but why?  I love the freedom that comes with farming,” explained Dennis...

 

Organic vineyard uses NRCS Organic Initiative assistance to improve irriagation efficiency.

Before We Valued Organic Grown Food...

Kit and Robin Hoult were producing organic grapes and other produce. They bought an 18-acre abandoned dairy farm in 1974 and turned it into their little piece of heaven; complete with lots of wildlife, beautiful trees, rows of vineyards, cared-for produce gardens, and eventually an award winning winery in 2002.

“We started with gardening and simply scaled it up,” said Kit...

 

Farmer installs dripline irrigation system through NRCS assistance.

Arizona Farmer Gets Help to Install Drip Line Irrigation System

Victor Wakimoto, alfalfa farmer in Mohave Valley, Ariz., received financial assistance through the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) to install a drip line irrigation system on 100 acres of alfalfa. Drip irrigation not only conserves more water than other irrigation methods, it also increases efficiency. By increasing efficiency, production will be improved due to water reaching the accessible zone for plant roots quicker...

 

The Hualapai Tribe works with NRCS to conserve their natural resources.

Tribal Land, Water and Wildlife Improved Through Federal Help

The Hualapai Indian Tribe is located on a reservation in Northwestern Arizona, encompassing over 1,000,000 acres along 108 miles of the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. Cattle-ranching is a main source of income for the Tribe. Much of the Hualapai Reservation is made up of native grasslands. Cattle-ranching isn’t just a business it is a way of life and conserving the natural resources it requires is of high priority...

 

Avondale Field Office Helps Underserved Producers

Avondale Field Office Reaching Out to Underserved Producers

The presence of underserved agricultural producers in Maricopa County and throughout the State is significant. Mohammed Zerkoune of the Avondale NRCS Field Office states, “It requires additional outreach efforts to adequately respond to the conservation needs of underserved agricultural related operators.” Because of this need, the Avondale Field Office has made a valiant effort in conducting outreach to underserved individuals and groups including Women, Hispanics, Blacks and African Americans...

 

Farmer in Cotton Center, Arizona works with NRCS on Air Quality.

Farmer Partners with NRCS to Meet Maricopa County Air Quality Requirements

Marvin John has farmed his land in Cotton Center, Arizona for more than 40 years. He is a true native to the state, born and raised on a farm outside of Stafford, Arizona. Although he is a pioneer in the local agricultural scene, he does not let newer county mandates become roadblocks for his practice.

“It’s not practical to be reactive and receive fines – better to get things taken care of and find partners like NRCS to help you along the way,” said John...

 

Johnny Gomez helping farmers in Iraq.

Without Borders – NRCS Brings 75 Years of Excellence Internationally

“The experience fulfilled my life,” said Soil Conservationist Johnny Gomez regarding his detail in Iraq to aid the local farmers. From October 2007 through October 2008, Gomez toured along the Euphrates River, spearheading a number of irrigation projects and providing $800,000 of small grain and vegetable seed along with fertilizer to the area. Since then, Gomez has presented to a large audience of government officials back in the U.S., sharing his knowledge of the region and the agricultural challenges it faces...

 

Pecan farmer installs new irrigation system.

Pecan Farmer Saves More Than Water With Improved Irrigation

Three workers struggle to keep up with irrigating hundreds of acres of pecan trees. Excess water turns farm roads into mud, which melt away and need constant repair. Weeds pop-up everywhere, and the muddy roads make preparing the ground for harvest exhausting.

Glenn Williams loves pecan trees. The work involved in caring for them is worth the benefits. “Every time I drive through these trees in the summer, it’s so beautiful. It’s 10 or 20 degrees cooler; kind of like being at the ocean the way the sound is,” said Williams...

 

Duncan farms improves compost system.

Duncan Farms Shares Their NRCS Passion!

For Lloyd Nelson, civil engineering technician, learning new conservation planning skills keeps him excited about NRCS. He challenged himself in 2009 by designing a compost facility that provides fertilizer for a 1,700 acre organic farm.

Arnot Duncan of Duncan Farms has been composting since the early 1990s. He believes in the benefits of applying manure to his fields, but realized he had to prove to a lot of people that composting could work. “I knew about the nationwide concerns about raw manure,” said Duncan. “So, let’s address it now before EPA or local government gets involved."...

 

Farmers growing produce on Navajo Nation.

Farming Where Others Don't Go

Twenty-two acres of land is not very much for a farm. It’s got sandy soil, available water is scarce, and the remote location makes it difficult for equipment to get there.

Sound like a great opportunity?

Lemeul Halwood had his vision for the 22-acres. His grandfather grew corn there, and Halwood wanted to as well. Having enough water to grow anything was the first challenge on this land in Canon del Muerto on the Navajo Nation...