River Road Gardens was one of a few fascinating stops on the 2012 Border Food Summit urban agriculture – local foods tour. This small CSA urban farm is located on the campus of a Waldorf School, which in turn is located on the site of a former horse stables. Co-owner, Jon McNamara, is fighting a valiant battle against Bermuda grass, who’s seed bank may be extensive due to the previous presence of horses on the site. Bermuda grass is a popular feed for horses in Arizona, but the seeds are still viable after passing through the horse’s digestive tract and the established plants have rhizomes that are almost impossible to get rid of.
Even with high weed pressure, River Road Gardens produced a wide variety of vegetables this season and is an important component of Tucson’s urban agriculture scene. I had never seen vegetables under shade cloth before. Apparently the solar intensity is so high in this area that many crops, even peppers and tomatoes, actually need to be under shade cloth or they will roast in the sun. I certainly roasted under the Tucson sun!