By Jeff Sussman
There are naysayers who lament that too many regulations and too much competition from mega-farms make it impossible for the independent farmer to survive. A local couple, Jeannine and Cameron McChesney, are proving them wrong. Their success is made even more astounding by the fact that their enterprise, Greenhouse Gardens, flourishes in an area that once was all Arizona desert.
In respectful tones, Cameron explained being guided by his icon, Jean-Martin Fortier, who authored “The Market Gardener”. The underlying principal of this work, according to Fortier, is that “feeding people locally is hard work, but it can be part of a lifestyle with a deep sense of connection with the land, and the community.”
No fossil fuels (nor horse for that matter) are required as all the bed preparation is done manually with a 30” wide broad fork and bed rake. Purposefully designed to match the width of their raised rows of plants, the tool is ergonomically designed to enable them to efficiently aerate and prepare the soil by hand. Each row is 90 feet long and they are able to sustain 84 such rows.
Not everything harkens back to the old days though, especially the computerized irrigation system. Utilizing over a mile of PVC tubing that Cameron customized to meet their needs, Greenhouse Gardens can draw from three water sources configured to kick in when nature doesn’t. The crops are irrigated using city water, but the on-site well is used to irrigate the citrus and fruit trees in addition to suppling all the water for the washing station. Canal irrigation is also available, but is currently not being used.
This “gentleman farmer” spoke proudly about what he and his wife have accomplished in terms of Greenhouse Garden’s ability to provide locals with bountiful vegetables, nuts, herbs, fruits and even eggs. Moreover, as more people are realizing the health and economic benefits of “buying local”, this couple is delighting their neighbors with truly organic produce that meets the needs of their patrons’ palates and pocketbooks.
Stop by Greenhouse Gardens, located at 13103 E. Chandler Heights Road in Chandler, on any given Saturday morning for a real treat and say hello to Jeannine and Cameron, who are the embodiment of J.M. Fortier’s vision.
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This article was edited on 8-2-17.