March 2020 Green Champion – Greg Peterson

gardening with Greg

Pop-Up Nurseries and Desert Gardening Tips

By Elizabeth Pera

In 1989 Greg Peterson found the perfect property to call home. Known today as The Urban Farm, the 1/3-acre urban lot near 16th Street and Bethany Home is where you can find Peterson lecturing, recording podcasts and continuously updating his edible garden and yard which he calls a farm.

The mission

“I have more than 70 fruit trees, the entire front and back yard are designed as an edible landscape with chickens in the backyard,” says Peterson. “My mission is to show others that they too can realize the power, joy and deliciousness derived from growing their own food and creating their own urban farm.” 

The transition from urban garden to urban farm is a simple one—change the way you think about your yard from a hobby to a space that can actually feed your family and the neighborhood. 

People are jumping on board by the thousands, transforming their yards from one that takes time and energy to a productive healthy landscape that produces organic food which tastes amazing and saves money at the grocery store. One of the biggest components to making this transition is education.

Working with the community

Over the last 30 years, Peterson has hosted gardening and farming classes in the community. He uses his property as a visual tool for others interested in growing their own groceries. Every year, he hosts his annual Fruit Tree Education Program. People from all over the low desert can take classes to learn how to successfully grow, then pre-order fruit trees from him and pick them up at his October Pop-up for citrus and his January Pop-up for deciduous and topicals.

Those who don’t pre-order can come and pick up various citrus and deciduous (apples, peaches, apricots, plums, figs, berries, and more) trees at his pop-up nursery where many trees are ready for picking. Now in its 20th year, the Fruit Tree Pop-Up Nursery doesn’t just provide a healthy tree that will thrive in the Valley—Peterson also offers tips that will ensure a tree’s success.

“The way to be successful is through knowledge,” says Peterson. “I have helped plant more than 50,000 fruit trees in this city, and the education I give out is as valuable as the tree people buy.”

Hand-picked items

All of the trees Peterson sells are hand-picked and selected to thrive and produce fruit in the desert climate. At each pop-up nursery, Peterson answers questions and advises people on how to successfully create their own edible landscape.

“Our agricultural system is broken,” says Peterson. “We now have access to more, but less nutritious food than ever before. Urban farmers are the new victory gardeners. You can support yourself, your family and your community and make a positive impact on the world by simply growing your own food.”

To learn more about gardening in the desert, download Peterson’s free planting calendar at www.plantingcalendar.org and for information on the Pop-Up Nursery, visit www.fruittrees.org.

“Your garden is a gift that keeps on giving—year after year,” says Peterson. “The transition from gardener to farmer is an easy one, and I am here to help teach others how to do it.”

To find out more information and to get your garden growing, visit www.urbanfarm.org or like them on Facebook at facebook.com/theurbanfarm.

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Elizabeth Parra is an Arizona native and graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. She has been writing for most of her life and enjoys covering unique stories about Valley residents making a difference in their community.

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