Growing mushrooms started out as a hobby for Andrew Carhuff and Nicole DeVito. Before long, Aravaipa Creekside Growers morphed into a full time business.
“We saw a demand at the local markets and built a little shed to grow the mushrooms in,” Carhuff recalled. “We did that for about a year and a half before looking for land to be able to run a more diversified farm.”
After relocating operations from Tucson to five acres on the banks of Aravaipa Creek, Carhuff and DeVito were able to expand to other vegetables, as well as fresh flowers. Currently, the main crops the pair brings to the market each weekend include greens, radishes, carrots, oyster mushrooms, and shitake mushrooms. During the summer months, the produce shifts shifts to squash and flowers. But even in the off months, mushrooms are at the heart of the operation.
“Mushrooms grow pretty quickly relative to other crops. It’s exciting to see everything change so fast. Plus, there’s still a lot we don’t know about how they grow, so there is much to learn. It’s a field with a lot of possibility,” Carhuff explains.
The main focus is on oyster and shitake mushrooms although Carhuff and DeVito have begun to experiment with other varieties. Having only been in Aravaipa Creek for two years, they’re continuing to build up the infrastructure needed to produce a regular supply.
In order to remain as sustainable as possible, Carhuff and DeVito halt mushroom production from the end of June until September. This eliminates the need for climate control in the green house and gives time to make any improvements or repairs during the down months.
A lot of care and attention goes into making the farm work. Most days of the week are spent tending to crops. It’s hard work, but the two have a lot of fun.
“We enjoy what we do and want to keep doing it. It’s more unpredictable than a regular job and a lot to do, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Look for Aravaipa Creekside Growers at the Rillito Park Farmers Market on Sundays and follow along with their adventures on the Aravaipa Creekside Growers Facebook page. Know a farmers market vendor that we should feature? Let us know in the comments.