If you live in Phoenix, have heard about this place and have yet to make the sojourn to Agritopia in Gilbert... GO. Now. And for those of you who've somehow managed to escape the perpetually positive chatter about the idyllic urban farm, Agritopia is a 160-acre community nestled in a corner of Gilbert that houses 450 residential lots, a sprawling farm, a community garden, one of Phoenix's most loved off-the-beaten-path, diner-style gems, Joe's Farm Grill, a CSA program, an on-site produce stand, and one heck of a coffee shop... appropriately called The Coffee Shop. Impressed yet? I know. The only truly appropriate way to describe this place is as an agricultural utopia, but something tells me the guys at Agritopia already figured out that those words seem to sum it up. Funny how that happens!
Now before our Agritopia adventure this past Saturday, Chris and I had heard the hype about the amazing Joe's Farm Grill, but we admittedly hadn't heard much about the actual farm at Agritopia. We knew Joe's was known for its farm-fresh ingredients and locally-sourced menu, but what we didn't know was the The Farm at Agritopia, as it's called, has a life all its own outside of supplying its on-site restaurant with the goods. And what now seems even crazier is that Chris and I had absolutely no idea that you could go pick your own peaches at this place and that they may just be the most delicious peaches on the planet.
The call it "u-pick peaches" and luckily, we heard through the grapevine late last week that Saturday was the last day that we could go down there and do this. It was fate! Of course we both agreed that this was a totally worthy weekend activity, so we made the long drive out there from Arcadia, not knowing what kind of craziness would be there to greet us. Turns out, what was there to greet us were two unbelievably sweet and welcoming farmers, sitting at the edge of the peach orchard, waiting to hand us a box for picking our peaches and give us a laid-back rundown of how it all works. Then, they turned us loose in the orchard and what ensued was one of the most magical afternoons Chris and I have spent together over the course of our relationship.
The orchard is this lush, green paradise, teeming with peach trees loaded with the most perfectly ripe peaches ready to come home with us. We scored enough peaches to fill our huge grocery bag, and even had some to share with only our most deserving family and friends! After the orchard (which also houses an adorable duck coop), we walked the farm, checking in on the pigs in their pen, sauntered down the long, grapevine-lined dirt road and drooled over the huge tomatoes and flower power in the community garden. I know I know, it sounds like a backdrop straight out of some Nicholas Sparks guilty pleasure, doesn't it ladies? But rest-assured guys, this place hit just as many of Chris' sweet spots as it did mine! And when I reference my "sweet spots", I'm talkin' 'bout the BBQ sampler platter I scarfed at Joe's Farm Grill at the end of the day. That's right... I got the sampler, and I don't regret one minute of it.
When it comes to making food at home, Maryal and I have always taken the time to find really great ingredients for the dishes we want to create, or re-create. We love the way we feel when we fuel up every day with nutrient-rich veggies and wholesome eggs and cheese. Since moving here I've found that Phoenix is home to a variety of CSA's and local farmer's markets, but I can't keep the fridge going solely based on these pop-up mini markets. You always need to fill the gaps with a run to Trader Joe's or the local grocery store. Wouldn't it be nice to have access to a community farm?
To get it started, you and your neighbors kick up the funding to plant and irrigate, and then all reap the benefits during harvest. This is the idea behind the more common and available farm-to-table market system, the CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture. Most CSAs will ration each member an equal amount of fresh produce, which comes out to several meals worth of several different kinds fruit and veggies. Pretty great way to liven up your kitchen with ultra fresh organic produce, right?
The families that brought Agritopia to life have taken this idea to the next level with their incredibly impressive farm and have been filling bellies with nutritionally rich and absolutely delicious food for the past 6 years, which now also includes, like Mar mentioned, the incredible food at Joe's Farm Grill. BBQ. Burgers. Strawberry Lemonade. The list goes on, but the pics in the gallery and Guy Fieri on this awesome episode of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives really do it so much more justice than I ever could describing all that this agricultural haven is.
Agritopia has put a priority on sustainability and preserving urban agriculture, but what's even cooler is that hey've done it unpretentiously, encouraging the simple pleasures of walkability and community. The farm and the food are so inviting - Agritopia seems to be one of those unique places that brings together the foodie, the family and the young couple adventuring their way through their city's eclectic offerings. One of the biggest takeaways of the day? Aside from the peach picking and the delicious eats, seeing the property, the farm and how the food is used for ourselves definitely has mar and I considering joining a CSA program more seriously... but I'm sure the insanely delicious peaches we picked have helped boost our enthusiasm... just a little bit.