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Five Sustainable/Organic/Natural Farms and Ranches to Add Flavor to Your Meals in Arizona

1. Blue Sky Organic Farms. Located in Litchfield Park, in south-central Arizona, about 25 miles west of Phoenix, this family-run farm is certified organic, providing produce to Whole Food stores across the state, as well as at the Old Town Scottsdale Famers Markets and Roadrunner Park Farmers Market in Phoenix. The Farm Store is located on 189th Avenue in Litchfield Park. They also have started a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program in which people buy shares to support the farm in exchange for a weekly share of the harvest, with pickup locations in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Litchfield Park, Tempe, and Chandler. The farm's website will give you all the reasons you need why to buy organic -- and local. The farm grows roughly 180 different varieties of produce throughout the season, including these favorites: rosemary, lettuces, sage, basil, cucumbers, melons, spinach, onion, squashes, broccoli, eggplant, strawberries, carrots, corn, beans, peas, celery, peppers, kale, radishes, cauliflower, and more. Learn more: Blue Sky Organic Farms.

2. Double Check Ranch. Located in Winkelman, on the western side of the Lower San Pedro River valley, in southeastern Arizona, about 70 miles north of Tucson, this family-run ranch is in the business of raising, processing, and selling hearty and wholesome pasture-raised meats -- using methods that respect the land, animals, and people in a process they call "beyond organic." The cattle live on open range and eat only range and pasture grass not sprayed with chemical fertilizers; no hormones, antibiotics, or animal byproducts are used, and the beef is dry aged for 14 days, tenderizing naturally and gaining a full-bodied flavor. The ranch controls the entire operation, including custom cutting the meat in their own state-inspected packing house. Their meats are available in a variety of ways, including several farmers markets (including Phoenix Uptown Market; Phoenix Public Market; Gilbert Farmers Market; Santa Cruz River Market; Oro Valley Heirloom Market; Rillito Pavilion Heirloom Market; Saint Phillips Plaza Market; and Flagstaff Community Market), as menu items in numerous restaurants in Tucson and Phoenix, through a membership in their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and bulk orders (from 1/20 to a whole cow). Visitors to the ranch always welcome -- and they even have two cabins you can rent to prolong your visit. Learn more: Double Check Ranch.

3. Maya's Farm. Located in southeast Phoenix, in south-central Arizona, this small, sustainable, 7-acre farming operation owned by Maya Dailey is situated in an ancient river bed and produces high-quality specialty vegetables, herbs, flowers, and eggs for local markets, restaurants, and school -- as well as through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program in which subscribers get a weekly supply of fresh-harvested produce. The farm follows an Earth-friendly approach, using no pesticides, herbicides, or commercial fertilizers. Purchase farm-fresh eggs and seasonally-grown produce (including squashes, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, onions, broccoli, radishes, specialty greens, herbs, and more) on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Phoenix Public Market. You can also enjoy the farm's fresh produce at a growing number of local restaurants in the Phoenix area. Visitors are always welcome at this oasis of serenity on the edge of the city. Learn more: Maya's Farm.

4. Painted Cave Cattle Company LLC. Located in Aravaipa, in southeastern Arizona, about 70 miles northeast of Tucson and bordered by the beautiful Aravaipa Canyon and the San Carlos Apache Reservation, this beef cattle ranch is managed by the Hill family, who have been in the state since the 1880s, and who have always practiced holistic and environmentally friendly practices. The cattle are completely grass-fed on the grasslands that blanket the plains and plateaus of the area -- from start to finish, with zero grain or corn supplements -- and have never been exposed to pesticides, herbicides, steroids, or growth hormones. The ranch, which is almost 30 square miles in size, contains five unique biomes, which the family preserves and protects. Their motto includes: healthy land; healthy cattle. Every item sold is USDA-certified, and includes: beef jerky, breakfast sausage, flank steak, ground beef, strip steaks, porterhouse steaks, ribeye and rib roasts, stew meat, and more. Learn more: Painted Cave Cattle Company LLC.

5. Steadfast Farm. Located in Queen Creek, in south-central Arizona, about 40 miles southeast of Phoenix, this two-acre bio-intensive small-scale farm grows certified organic fruits and vegetables and raises pastured poultry for fresh eggs. The farm's offerings are available through a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, at local farmers markets (including the Gilbert Farmers Market, Phoenix Public Market, and Uptown Farmers Market), and in area restaurants (such as as Crepe Bar, FnB, Virtu, and Okra). Seasonal produce grown includes: lettuces/greens, herbs, beets, artichokes, beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, garlic, onions, kale, peppers, radishes, pumpkins, melons, apples, apricots, potatoes, squashes, and tomatoes. Learn more: Steadfast Farm.

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