Seeding the Future of Agriculture

By Premnath Sundharam

Canyon View High School, currently under construction in Waddell, AZ, will open its doors in 2018 as the fifth high school for Agua Fria Union High School District in the West Valley. Stemming from Waddell’s agrarian background, the high school campus will host a robust agriculture and agriculture-based science program. The school aims to play a significant role in the future of agriculture in Arizona and the Southwest.

Improving food security through access to nutritious foods and sustainable agriculture will become increasingly critical to national security. Agriculture has evolved into an incredibly sophisticated industry attracting technology giants such as Google. How do we set a foundation for Arizona and Arizonans to lead this innovation?

Canyon View High School is providing that incredible opportunity through its state of the art agriculture program. The program focuses on Ag-science emphasizing agriculture’s relationship to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics).

The program consists of several components ranging from traditional animal husbandry to STEM-based Ag Science. The program has been branded Canyon View Ranch. The operations and research component of Canyon View Ranch is based around the shop, classroom and lab classroom providing the fundamentals while ideas and hypothesis are fleshed out in an alpha test phase in the lab and the most promising are prepared for real discovery through the shop.

The shop provides critical maintenance and operations functions but is symbolically the stepping stone to small-scale test gardens and ultimately out to the true hands-on-component where the science is put to the test in a relevant project-based setting of the barn, greenhouse, and agricultural plots.

However, the practice of agriculture is ultimately a business whether for profit or not for profit on the research side. Recognizing public relations and outreach components, Canyon View Ranch will operate a living wall that is placed at the entrance to the campus. The living wall will host an herb garden that will supply organic specialty food ingredients to the school’s food service.

Canyon View High School is poised to provide a world-class education on the future of agriculture where exploring new techniques; hand-on-experimentations; and leveraging garden-totable opportunities become part of the new learning process.


An industry recognized thought leader in sustainability and high-performance building design, Premnath serves as the Global Sustainability Leader at DLR Group. He leads firm-wide sustainability initiatives and develops long-term strategies for a more environmentally responsible design practice.

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