Erich Schultz worked with a landscape design firm in Phoenix, Arizona, focusing on high-end residential and commercial landscaping. One of his projects integrated farms into neighborhoods. Erich became intrigued with small farms, so he stepped out of the landscape design world to give agriculture a try.
Erich fell in love with farming and after a few years, found about 60-acres on the outskirts of Phoenix. Sheep, pigs, poultry, and bees are part of the farm, but he says vegetables are the central focus.
"At least 100 different types of mixed vegetables in a bio-intensive, small scale fashion," says Erich. "A very low-tech focus on maximizing what we can grow per square-foot, so we’re able to produce an enormous amount of food on a small acreage and feed lots of people, and make a decent living just by adjusting our practices."
The produce is sold to restaurants, at a farm stand, farmer’s markets, and through a CSA, or Community Supported Agriculture.
Farming in the desert Southwest has its challenges, but Erich says he doesn’t fight with nature, he works with it.
"We create permanent raised beds. I don’t mean like they have a wooden frame around the bed, I just mean that the dirt is mounded up. Once we establish those initial beds, we plant in them and then when that crop is done, we actually grind up all the vegetation, all that green matter that’s in the bed so that it gets worked back into the soil," says Erich. "But we’re never rototilling, we’re trying basically not to disrupt the soil structure."
Erich has had great success, and is now helping up-and-coming small farmers.
Learn more about Erich's farm at www.steadfast-farm.com
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