A grower is transforming northern Arizona desert into a vegetable production area.
Courtesy Kingman FarmsThis bell pepper field is part of a new northern Arizona growing operation. A developer that owns Kingman Farms LLC in Golden Valley, Ariz., is growing produce on desert land. The farm also grow corn, melons and cabbage. Kingman Farms LLC, Golden Valley, Ariz., plans to supply vegetables and melons in the early fall window before the Nogales, Ariz., deal starts.
This summer and fall, it plans to harvest bell peppers, hot peppers, sweet corn, watermelon, cantaloupe, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower from 600 acres. Plans are to increased that to 2,000 acres next season, said Dick Mills, general manger of farm operations.
Within five years, Kingman Farms plans to be growing vegetables on 15,000 acres, but other acreage includes alfalfa, hay and grain corn, he said.
The operation plans to field pack and ship from a 12,000 square foot refrigeration facility it’s constructing.
By 2015, it expects to add a packing operation, Mills said.
Las Vegas developer Jim Rhodes wanted to find a use for the land he was paying taxes on that he originally planned to build houses on before the housing bust, Mills said.
Mills said the virgin desert farmland close to Las Vegas and Phoenix should be ideal for retailers wanting to promote local produce.
Still, Kingman plans to ship throughout the U.S., Mills said.
“The opportunity’s here,” he said. “We are here to try capitalize on the season and being able to grow it locally. I can’t express the enthusiasm of him (Rhodes) taking on this operation. To get into farming these days is a tough business, but he was game and wants it done. He’s bringing in the right people to make it happen.”
Kingman plans to harvest bell and specialty peppers in August, corn, watermelon and cantaloupe in early September, and its cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower in late October.
It’s testing eggplant and pumpkins and Mills said it plans to grow vine ripe tomatoes next season.
With 45 years of farming experience, Mills worked in his family’s Bonita Springs, Fla., produce growing operation and was in warehouse management for 10 years with Thomas Produce Co. in Boca Raton, Fla., before joining J&J Produce Inc. in Loxahatchee, Fla., where he was executive vice president of warehouse and operations.