Arco Agritecture

Arco Agritecture is the microbusiness I’ve decided to begin under the new operating system emerging at Arcosanti. Motivated by Soleri’s “City in the Image of Man” and an article warning of the spreading of deserts into land around man’s habitat (desertification), I came to Arcosanti to do the workshop with the intention of staying here a year. Since that initial year, I’ve lived, worked, and raised two kids with my wife Nadia, at Arcosanti for a little over 30 years. I have been mostly focused on architecture and project management of Soleri’s design-build method (with a philosophical bent).

Growing food and teaching people to grow food has always taken a backseat to architecture for me. Over time, this has changed. I want to direct my architectural/arcological experience into the plant world and bring growing food onto the main stage here at Arcosanti.

Paolo Soleri encouraged allocating resources to agriculture in the form of greenhouses resulting in the 800 square foot greenhouse and 1,000 square feet of raised beds in front of the guest rooms. Unfortunately, after his death, the agriculture focus was lost. Now with the guidance of the new microbusiness initiative supported by the Foundation, the energy to grow food has a new direction. We plan to bring all land that has seen agricultural life in the past to its full potential.

A conversation last summer with local biology teacher and master gardener, Casey (Emerson) Jones, encouraged me to revive the Agriculture here. It is his inspiration that led to my decision to focus on a “business” of growing food. Reactivating the greenhouse and raised beds is well underway. Designing and planting a food forest similar to Casey’s is a long-term goal while setting up the bakery for use as a microgreens operation is a short-term goal that can immediately supply food, generate cash flow, and illustrate to visitors of Arcosanti the measures being taken here to invigorate a uniquely sustainable agricultural system.

Presently, Casey is a full-time consultant and four volunteers — Kevin Wilson, Amanda Loy, Angie Piro, and Simon Lagneaux — have been helping with ArcoAgritecture. Our goals are briefly described here and access to our business plan is available if you are interested. We are registered as a non-profit organization under an agreement with Cosanti Foundation and are in process of confirming board members and by-laws.

For this blog, I’d like to include an inspiring and informative piece written by one of my mentors — Casey(Emerson) Jones. It is a vision given by an educator with wisdom acquired by practical experience.

The Vision for the Future of Arcoagritecture at Arcosanti

Arcosanti has become the center of a regional food hub through outreach to local growers in Phoenix, Chino Valley, Prescott, Cottonwood, and the Verde Valley. Arcosanti is recognized statewide as a leader in sustainable and regenerative agriculture. Regular seminars and experiential workshops are conducted to demonstrate a variety of growing techniques ranging from small scale production suitable for urban settings to larger production techniques suitable for multi-acre properties. This is achieved through out-reach to Arizona universities, governmental agencies, national experts, businesses, and farmers with demonstrated success in regenerative farming.

The Arcosanti Cafe has become a busy, highly profitable enterprise recognized for serving locally grown, seasonal foods. It benefits from the flow of food through the Arcosanti Food Hub, established through a USDA grant, allowing the Cafe to have year-round fresh produce. The food hub provides for greater efficiencies for local growers by facilitating crop planning, aggregation, and distribution. The offset growing seasons between the Valley and northern Arizona provide year-round produce. Part of the food hub’s mission is to provide increased food security in the Dewey-Humboldt to Cordes Lakes corridor by promoting home gardening through the schools and classes. Arcoagritecture entrepreneurs are producing diverse, fresh, healthy foods for the Arcosanti community. Each entrepreneur was helped to establish their business by the Arcoagritecture business incubator which coordinates contact and involvement with recognized experts in various fields including agricultural research, business planning, and successful practitioners. The business incubator is funded through federal grants, workshops and seminars, and donations. The Camp is rebuilt to create a dense community of people dedicated to agricultural enterprises.

Traffic to Arcosanti has increased due to the success of the Cafe and frequent seminars and hands-on workshops on agriculture and sustainable living. Nationally known speakers are engaged to present and multi-topic seminars are orchestrated to aid in fundraising, educational outreach, and recognition of the theory and practice of Arcology in a densely populated community that is supported by onsite food production, and preserving surrounding wild lands for ecological and aesthetic value.

The elevated traffic and attention to Arcosanti provides a vehicle to accelerate the adoption of Arcology principles nationally and internationally as a means to provide more ecologically sound and sustainable communities.

“The ultimate goal of farming is not the cultivation of crops but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.” – Masanobu Fukuoka

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