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A young folk is thinking about moving to the desert

 
                          
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forest garden greening the desert homestead
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Hey All!

I'm considering transitioning to Southern AZ (Santa Cruz or Pima counties) or possibly North-Central NM and am looking for some advice.

I've been living and working as a farm manager for the last few years on a small-ish farm with a strong community ethic on the the Mendocino Coast, and for various reasons I feel that it's coming time for me to move on. I've really enjoyed and gained a lot from my time in NorCal, but I've always been a desert person at heart, so I think my next stage should bring me back (giving up surfing is gonna be tough, tho...)

I'm primarily interested in Santa Cruz or Pima counties in Arizona. There seems to be a good scene of people with a similar ideologies about the importance of local water-wise/dry-farmed food systems (Brad Lancaster and Gary Paul Nabhan both live in Tucson!) N NM also seems like a good option for me for similar reasons. I'm originally from So Cal (East San Diego County, specifically) and don't consider returning out of the question, but unfortunately I'm a farmer by trade so money is a factor for me and California as a whole seems to have moved well outside of my price range.

As I said I'm a farmer by trade (and I'm pretty good at it, if I may say so myself) but I also have experience in farm/garden education with both children and adults and like to be involved in food justice work in the communities I live in. My long term goal is to either purchase some land with other community-oriented, radical folks or buy into an existing communally owned property (I hope to one day move beyond adding value to someone else's land but I also have no interest on living alone after living in community for the last few years). That's my long term goal, but for now I'm just hoping for a little advice on how to get my foot in the door down there. I'm really not looking for any specific sort of advice, just maybe if anyone lives in those areas or is knowledgeable about the goings-ons down there, pointing me towards any permie-projects or organizations to contact (or even a small farm looking for a manager) Anything you can add to this post will be greatly appreciated.

This is my first post here, so I hope I'm doing it right!

Thanks in advance,

Veggie Cowboy (M28)

 
Posts: 43
Location: Nuevo Mexico, Alta California, New York, Andalucia
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Good hunting!  I faced a choice between southeast AZ & north-central NM in the 90s.  Over a few years I had footholds in both, and during some periods was alternating between them, and then love decided.  At the most raw I was living out of a vehicle, camping nightly all seasons outside the cities, or staying with friends inside.  Beyond cultural differences, personal connections, & serendipity, I came to be strongly influenced by summer heat & monsoons vs winter cold & snow.  They've both changed a bit since then, not least in climate, especially declining precipitation, and increasing night-time warming.  Soils, water availability & quality balance, volatility of growing conditions are key.  

My advice is to find short-term bases, tour byways & backways, connect with the most diverse communities & innovative growers, check the markets, read the prospects, and triangulate your own possibilities between sharing, growing, earning, owning.  

I've built up much drylands horticulture & minimum irrigation experience, and a large collection of high- & dry-land adapted fruit/ nut/ berry/ etc, but am still looking for a workable piece of land & hydrology, and against indications a collaborative/ community approach, though my own touchstone is a living acequia, and many of those are running ever drier.  I've long ruminated a scheme for urban footholds in Albuquerque, Tucson, El Paso, & Flagstaff, with a rural base centered mid-way (original Seeds of Change farm was close).  Areas where I've done forestry work above upland farms have burned, perhaps a fire sale might offer entry.  
 
Posts: 38
Location: Cerrillos, NM
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Hi Veggie Cowboy!
I'm running a permaculture project here between Albuquerque and Santa Fe for 18 years now.
We only have rain catchment here so it's not a farm, but more of an educational homestead.
Called Ampersand Sustainable Learning Center.
We take interns during the warmer months and residents sometimes.
You can find out more about our project and contact us through the website:
www.ampersandproject.org
Thanks and good luck!
Amanda
 
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Location: Ashhurst New Zealand (maritime temperate - 9b with cool summers)
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Kia ora VC -

Southern AZ is a great place for growing stuff if you're smart with water harvesting and all the other tricks of the trade. I happen to know of some property in Sonoita that's going to be up for sale soon....
 
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If you are interested in learning about Bee Keeping look up Bee Chama outside of Socorro, NM in Polvadera, NM
 
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