Wednesday, September 28, 2011

On Sunday Joe and I went on the annual organic farm tour sponsored by Somos la Semilla (We Are the Seed). We went last year (you can see my posting about it at and had a great day, so were excited to do it again. Last year all the farms were off the I-19 corridor (more or less), around Arivaca, Green Valley, and Tumacacori, but this year they added four new locations around Patagonia (Arizona, not South American), and since we love going to Patagonia, we decided to just do that part of the tour since Patagonia is quite a drive from the other concentration of farms, east on I-10 and then south on state highway 83. The first thing we did was have lunch at our favorite coffeehouse, not the best lunch we've ever had there, but not bad.
 Across the street is the city park, which runs the entire length of the town proper, which means Patagonia really has two main streets, one on either side.
 It's an old ranching town, though there used to be mining nearby as well, and a couple of large companies are trying to bring it back - most of the townsfolk are very much against that, given the environmental damage caused by large scale open pit mining, which of course is what they want to do. The town has a real funky charm, with a lot of old adobe buildings in varying states of repair, and of course some newer buildings too, with the two kinds often nestled next to each other, cheek by jowl.
The town is small and very walkable. . . with interesting ruins.
 The first three places on the farm tour, however, were sort of a bust. The Patagonia community garden is near the middle of town, but there was no one there to explain anything so we just walked around looking at the plots - it's nice but we didn't learn much. Patagonia is higher and cooler than Tucson, so gardening is undoubtedly a little bit easier - some folks even had tomatoes, which are difficult to impossible to grow in Tucson. The blossoms won't set fruit once it gets into the high 90s.
 This is the drive back to the highway from Deep Dirt Farm Project. You won't see pictures of the farm because after seeing several over-directive signs (Tours are at 9, 11, 1, and 5. If you are late, wait for the next one.) we turned around when we got to the first parking area and decided it wasn't worth waiting at least two hours for. That's just not the way these farm tours are conducted, with such military precision. Maybe we missed something wonderful, but I guess we'll survive.
     We also visited the Native Seeds Search experimental farm. Native Seeds Search is a wonderful organization dedicated to preserving traditional crops of the southwest; check them out at I get my tepary bean seeds from them; I wrote about that a while back and you can see it at!/2009/11/gardens-yesterday-and-today.html. I didn't take pictures because, well, it wasn't all that scenic. It's a rough time of year here, with the summer stuff dried up and dying and the fall things not really started yet. But a nice young man showed us around and I learned a few things, which is always good. Then we headed up the road toward Sonoita and then east to Mias Chivas Goat Farm, which was definitely the high point of the day.
 Look at that sky lowering over the high plains grassland (parts of the movie Oklahoma! were filmed around here). You can see virga in the middle, rain that never quite makes it to the ground.
 I am totally in love with goats. They're smart, friendly, funny, and beautiful And their milk makes amazing cheese and other things, like soap. Who could resist this face? The folks at Mias Chivas were welcoming and informative and let us taste fresh goat milk and several different cheeses that they sell at the farmers' market in Patagonia at the community garden, every Sunday from 9-12. I bought some chèvre and a couple of bars of patchouli-scented soap. And then we headed home.
When we first got out of the car at Mias Chivas, a man who was leaving had said that if this was our last stop, we'd saved the best for last. He was so right!

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