|Volume 6, Number 8||August, 2008|
Welcome to the Picture Rocks Digest,
a free newsletter about issues and events in the community. The print
version of this all-volunteer publication is distributed at area
businesses and community sites. If you have calendar events or news
items, or if you would like to be added to our email
list, please contact us at PictureRocksDigest@comcast.net.
The Picture Rocks Digest is a publication of Citizens for Picture Rocks, Inc., a nonprofit 501(c)(4) civic organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in the community. Citizens for Picture Rocks meets the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm in the Picture Rocks Community Center, 5615 N. Sanders Road. Meetings are free and open to the public. The next meeting is August 19, 2008. Everyone is welcome to attend. Membership not required, but highly recommended!
Note: If candidates have websites, links are provided. For additional candidate information, see the Citizens Clean Elections Commission Voter Education Guide.
Following funding approval by the Board of Supervisors last month, about 30 Picture Rocks neighbors, including 20 young people, met with prospective designers of the Picture Rocks BMX-Skate Park. Local teams are visiting parks in other parts of the state, and a design decision is expected soon. Construction could start as early as this autumn.
Supervisor Sharon Bronson, who dug up the money for the BMX-Skatepark out of the 2004 bonds approved by voters, told the Digest, "This project is a great example of community cooperation and it has been my pleasure to work with all the dedicated citizens who made this dream a reality."
We are living in a time when solid plans are rare that address how communities and societies
should conduct themselves to solve environmental, food security, and energy problems. The way
we frame these problems changes almost daily in response to constantly updated figures and
data which may or may not be biased according to the obligatory skeptic. To further compound
these problems, we know how to do little else except hop in a car for most meals and errands. A
good number of us now sense the need to weigh the energy costs associated with the purchase of
a tomato grown 1500 miles away, and we wonder how much dinner is really costing in terms of
I recently had a chance to visit a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farm near Tubac, Arizona, to see how things were going after a recent move from their 17-acre farm in Avalon near Phoenix. CSA farms are supported by selling shares of produce to people in the surrounding community who would like to receive a weekly portion of assorted fresh, organically grown produce on a weekly basis direct from the farmer. The fee for this share is paid in advance of the harvest, and both the farmer and client share in the risk that harvests may not be optimal. The University of Arizona sponsors the Tucson CSA and currently it helps to distribute over 300 shares weekly.
At present, the new Avalon Organic Gardens, Farm and Ranch produces 30 shares and it boasts 165 acres of gently sloping land tended and cultivated by 50 residents. Situated in the Santa Cruz River Valley within the mesquite bosque west of the Sahuarita Mountains, the temperatures are somewhat milder than what we experience here in Avra Valley. Without referencing their elevation in relation to our average 2550 foot elevation, I suspect that a thick line of tall mesquite and cottonwood trees along the entire west edge is cooling the hot summer winds, while dense bermuda grass supported by regularly sprayed effective microorganisms (EM) is also actively cooling the air.
Upon arrival, my brother and I were greeted with large plates of home-cooked food including vegetables and cheeses produced not more than a few hundred feet away. During our lunch we discussed their difficulties of reestablishing and their future visions for the farm. Afterward, we were treated to a comprehensive hour-long tour taking us past alternative building projects, composting operations, the vegetable fields, ponds, and more fields using various permaculture techniques.
After only one year of shipping cows, rabbits, chickens, goats, fruit trees, and much more from up north, they have over three acres of flood-irrigated land under cultivation, and much more land undergoing soil restoration while supporting jerusalem artichoke, sting nettle, and comfrey. These are versatile, hardy plants with many uses and therefore are highly valued in a sustainable permaculture design. Tarenta, the farm manager, is actively seeking to connect with other local CSA┬’s and anyone who can help support them in their quest to achieve a more sustainable way of life and promote it. Financial support for this farm is coming from many non-profit sources, including donations and various cottage industry-like businesses that they have established over the previous 15 years.
After leaving a small, non-obligatory donation in appreciation of our time spent and comfortably full stomachs, we made our way towards Tucson with many new hopes and ideas in mind, not only for the land we are currently stewards of in Avra Valley, but also for the region we live in.
Quality of life in a community is dependent on the quality of communication and interaction between the members of that community. The 50 residents on this farm are a tightly-knit bunch that trade ideas regularly and solve problems quickly and communally while encouraging rehabilitating members to heal. I can easily envision many CSA's spread throughout the Avra Valley area poised to support ourselves and densely populated Tucson, but a first obstacle will be finding ways to bridge the space between neighbors to get those ideas flowing.
Jaime De Zubeldia is co-executive director for Sonoran Kitchen Gardens, a permaculture design consultant and intern with the Sonoran Permaculture Guild. He is a graduate of the University of Arizona College of Engineering, and in the past has worked on various private and public land development projects.
At the regular July 15 Citizens for Picture Rocks meeting, Allen Dart, Director of Old Pueblo Archaeology Center, spoke to about 60 people about the prehistoric Huhugam people of Southern Arizona. From about 400 A.D. until the mid-1400s, the Huhugam lived in villages along the Salt, Gila and Santa Cruz Rivers, digging extensive irrigation canals deep into the desert. Rock art solstice markers set the dates for moving "over the hill" to harness monsoon rain water with rock and brush dams, terraces, and other features to plant corn, beans and squash (the "Three Sisters") along with cotton and agave. The Huhugam also hunted local game, and harvested desert foods like mesquite and palo verde pods and cactus buds.
Allen Dart, whose talk was supported by the Arizona Humanities Council, showed slides and artifacts of Huhugam arts and crafts, including decorated pottery, stone tools, textiles and sea shell jewelry.
The Huhugam's "paddle and anvil" style pottery was unique in the Southwest, and had a wide variety of designs. Villages composed of pit houses covered with brush and adobe sometimes had public architecture like ball courts and, later, platform mounds, related to Aztec and other influences from Mesoamerica to the south. In the mid-1400s there was a population decline and the Huhugam way of life changed, leaving behind artifacts for archaeologists to study and argue over. At evening's end one old-timer said, "I've been coming to these meetings for five years and this was the best one yet!"
The headlines below appeared recently in local newspapers. Complete stories are available online. Summaries highlight information that may be of particular interest to Picture Rocks residents and were compiled by Picture Rocks Digest staff.