By Constance Halonen-Wilson
The Town of Queen Creek was founded on deep-rooted history with an emphasis on farming and agriculture. Now a vibrant community, the town strives to honor the agricultural heritage by enhancing the “agritainment” (agriculture entertainment) opportunities located within Queen Creek. Recognizing the economic and cultural value of the agritainment movement, and aware of the benefits the agritainment industry provides to the community, supporting an expanded agritainment district became a key economic development goal for the Town of Queen Creek.
Agritainment, farm-to-fork, and interactive farm experiences are increasing in popularity throughout the nation, with several agritainment favorites located in Queen Creek: Hayden Flour Mills, Schnepf Farms, Sossaman Farms and Queen Creek Olive Mill.
The Schnepfs were one of the founding families of Queen Creek, with Ray and Thora Schnepf arriving in 1941. Growing a variety of produce – including potatoes, corn and peaches – the farm expanded in the 1990s to include a petting zoo, carnival rides and bakery. Since then the farm has only continued to grow, offering new and exciting opportunities for residents and visitors. Beginning December 1 the farm transforms into a Winter Wonderland with ice skating, train rides, fresh Christmas trees, bonfires and hayrides to feed deer. Schnepf Farms also offers dinner in the orchard, a U pick garden and unique items in the Country Store.
Sossaman Farms/Hayden Flour Mills
Sossaman Farms is another active farm in Queen Creek operated by a founding family. Established in 1919, Sossaman Farms is a fifth generation farm in Queen Creek producing corn, cotton, alfalfa and small grains. Sossaman Farms is also the home to Hayden Flour Mills, a family owned business that prides itself on making the freshest and most flavorful flours from some of the world’s oldest varieties of wheats. Hayden Flour Mills offers specialty flour for pancakes, pizza and pasta. From red fire wheat crackers to ancient barley, white Sonora berries and stone-ground oats, you’re sure to find something special. Products are available online, and visits to the farm are available by appointment.
Queen Creek Olive Mill
The Queen Creek Olive Mill is the only working olive mill in the state of Arizona. In addition to providing tours, the Olive Mill offers a unique dining and shopping experience. With an endless variety of olive oils, vinegars and olives from which to choose, the Olive Mill also offers baked goods, local wine and specialty items like BBQ sauces, coffee and spices. The Olivespa includes items like tangerine lip balm, Sonoran spice body oil and olive oil soap. After shopping, enjoy a delicious meal in the grove. Select from unique menu items like the Kalamata sandwich or the San Tan Pizza featuring Arizona-grown pistachios.
Along with Queen Creek’s agricultural roots, the equestrian community is also a vital piece of the town’s history. Queen Creek offers a variety of events for equestrian lovers at the Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Centre, where visitors can experience barrel racing, roping and flat track racing.
Agritainment has emerged as an opportunity for farm owners to diversify their agricultural operations and provide unique experiences that enhance the popular farm-to-table movement. For the Town of Queen Creek, creating an agritainment district preserves the community’s agricultural heritage and protects destinations that provide experiences for residents and visitors.
Learn more about Queen Creek’s unique agritainment industry:
Schnepf Farms: schnepffarms.com
Hayden Flour Mills at Sossaman Farms: haydenflourmills.com
Queen Creek Olive Mill: queencreekolivemill.com
Horseshoe Park & Equestrian Centre: queencreek.org/HPEC
Town of Queen Creek: queencreek.org
Constance Halonen-Wilson is the Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Town of Queen Creek.
Read more about gardening at greenlivingaz.com/greenthumb.