Small Scale Producers: Join us at a FREE 2-Day Forum in Ajo!

13239903_1044910115603200_2552301679261458776_nCalling all small scale food producers! We invite you to join us for the free Small Scale Arizona Food Producer’s Forum next week on November 15 & 16, 2016. RSVPs are open here.  

The forum provides the space for small-scale growers and food producers to convene, acquire tangible tools for growing, processing and selling, share best practices, and celebrate community. This year, the event will highlight the heirloom crops of the Sonoran Desert and celebrate their growing, use and cultural significance. “These crops are not only an important part of the history, cultural diversity and revitalization of our community; they are the key to successful growing of food in our environment, as they are adapted to our extreme conditions, require lower water usage or soil inputs, and are also highly nutritious. We thank all the community members and organizations who have been participating in the “Adopt-A-Sonoran-Desert-Crop Program,” a citizen participation seed conservation program, says Nina Sajovec, Executive Director of Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture, “and we hope this forum will further inspire Ajo gardeners to incorporate these plants into their growing and culinary practices for a sustainable and healthy future of our community.”


Last year’s forum was so well received, we have expanded our agenda to include a second day of hands-on workshops and cooking demonstrations. Also this year, we will be hosting a potluck on Tuesday night to celebrate our growth as a local food community and share our bounty with one another. All producers, families, and supporters are invited to join in the merriment. The program will start at 10 am on both days. The first day (Tuesday, November 15) will feature speakers from San Xavier Co-op Farm, Maricopa County Cooperative Extension, and Beneficial Beans on the topics of value-added products, agricultural business sustainability, and marketing of local food and local products. A food demonstration will be presented by a renowned Native American Chef Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz, and a panel will discuss alternative benefit redemption programs right after lunch. The day will end with an indoor MarketPlace and then a potluck in the garden. The second day (Wednesday, November 16) will be filled with hands-on demonstrations on growing, processing and cooking of the Sonoran Desert crops along with tastings. Participants will learn how to thrash tepary beans, prepare native corn, grow I’itoi onions, save seeds, as well as how to cook these and other foods into delicious and healthy meals. Presenters include Native Seeds SEARCH, Tohono O’odham Community Action, and Ramona Farms, as well as local chefs such as the Ajo Unified School District’s Culinary Arts students. A special talk on food and wellness will be given by Si Johnson, Sr., a Tohono O’odham rancher and educator from Kawyu Apedag Wapkial Oidagkam (KAWO), an organization bringing horses for kids to the Authentically Ajo Farmers Market. An optional tour of Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture’s dry-land field at the Ajo Roping Arena will be offered on Wednesday, November 16, at 8:30 am, in cooperation with Pima County Natural Resources, Parks and Recreation. This 2-day event is free for all to attend, and includes free farm-to-table lunch option on both days.  Registration is required. RSVP for Tuesday's workshops, the Potluck, or Wednesday’s workshops here.



The event will be held at Ajo CSA’s Many Hands Learning Center and Urban Farm, and the Sonoran Desert Conference Center. For more information contact Nina Sajovec at or 520-405-4872. The Small Scale Arizona Food Producers’ Forum is presented by Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture in partnership with Local First Arizona Foundation and Arizona Small-Scale Farmers Alliance. The event is possible due to support by the USDA, Freeport McMoRan Foundation, and Commission for Environmental Cooperation.



2016 Small Scale Arizona Food Producer's Forum


Tuesday, November 15


Welcome, Local First Arizona



Sustainability Through Value-Added Products, San Xavier Co-Op Farm



Community Supported Agriculture: Starting & Growing Your Market, Maricopa County Cooperative Extension Office



Adopt a Sonoran Desert Crop Program, Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture



Heritage Foods Cooking Demonstration, by Chef Felicia Cocotzin Ruiz



Lunch (complimentary) + Authentically Ajo Farmer's Market Place



Accepting Food Assistance Benefits at Farmers Markets and Direct-Marketing Ventures: Current and Future Opportunities and Challenges, Pinnacle Prevention & Maricopa County Department of Public Health



Knowing Your Market: Branding & Re-Branding, Beneficial Beans



Authentically Ajo Farmer's Market Place



Celebration Potluck, with supplementary dishes provided by the Arizona Small Scale Farmers Alliance


Wednesday, November 16


Tour of the Dry-Land Field at Ajo Roping Arena (optional – carpool from Many Hands Learning Center)



At the Farm: Hands-On Demonstrations of Harvesting, Post-Harvest Handling and Seedsaving Techniques of Tepary Beans, Corn, and I’itoi Onions; presented by Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture, San Xavier Co-Op Farms, Native Seeds Search



Traditional Crops and Wellness, Si Johnson - Tohono O’odham Elder, Rancher and Educator



Complimentary Lunch, featuring Sonoran Desert crops provided by Ajo Unified School District’s Culinary Arts students, led by Christina Vega Zubiate + Authentically Ajo Farmer's Market Place



In the Kitchen: Hands-On Demonstrations of Heritage Food Preparation Techniques, with tastings

  • Ramona Farms (Akimel O’odham, Sacaton, AZ): Tepary Beans, Roasted Corn and Wheat, Poshol
  • Tohono O’odham Community Action (Tohono O’odham): Wild Desert Foods, Cholla Buds
  • Cultural Arts Group (Ajo, AZ): Tohono O’odham Squash Empanadas


3:00pm Questions & Event End



*Note: last-minute adjustments may be made to the Forum's line-up. Please email us for the most up-to-date information.

UncategorizedKate Radosevic