Conservation Corner – January 2015

Diane Beatty

If you are interested in getting freshly picked organic vegetables, you will find them in Ken Singh’s Farm, an enchanting forest located just a few hundred feet east of the Loop 101 on Thomas Road in Scottsdale. Singh’s main business is supplying produce to restaurants and compost to other organic farms and the Desert Botanical Garden, but his 42 acre farm is open to the public on Saturday mornings from late October to June from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. The farm’s produce sells out early, so plan to get there slightly before 9:00 a.m. You can park on the smaller west side lot of the farm before walking into the shopping area with large wooden doors with stained glass panels that are set into 10 foot high by six foot wide wood post palisade wings. All the walkways are heavily mulched and shaded by massive trees. The larger wooden building is the one-room main store with bins of vegetables and herbs outside and inside. In addition, bread and other goodies are available inside the room. Several smaller stalls around the main store sell various kinds of bakery goods and beverages. At the eastern side of the farming area is an open hut that sells potted plants of various sizes.

The western and northern exterior of the farm are the large mounds and hills of the composting areas. Singh has used nature to decompose his plant wastes into compost, a natural soil packed with nutrients that promote plant growth. The compost is available for purchase in coarse and fine grades, portable in 100 lb. recyclable coffee bean gunny sacks. A customer should drive to the larger east side parking lot to load the compost. If you use this high quality compost in your garden and potted plants, your plants will grow very well.

You should also walk through the vegetable gardens to appreciate the diversity of plants, as the Sun Lakes Garden Club did during their visit in October. The farm is surrounded by trees, mostly mesquites or Palo Verdes, which are legumes, so their leaves and roots enrich the soil. The 15 to 20 acres of vegetable gardens are mostly under and surrounded by trees. This minimizes their exposure to the hot sun during the warm months. Heavily mulched paths wind around the vegetable plots. According to Ken Singh, the heavy mulch of plant material actually retains water better than dirt so that the irrigation need is reduced by one third, allowing extending the availability of fresh precious water in the desert. Each plot contains several different plants, vegetables, herbs and flowers. This practice is companion planting at its best. Our visit to Singh Farm inspired us to see how the desert can be very productive if proper growing techniques are used. Their fresh organic vegetables have maximal nutritional value, flavor and taste, and are well worth the trip. You can look up Singh Farm on the web for more information concerning this oasis in the desert.