At 4,000 feet, the Willcox area in Northern Cochise County, AZ, was known as the “Cattle Capital” in the Old West days. Situated near Dos Cabezas Mountains, Willcox is now a major producer of diverse agriculture, including some of Arizona’s best-tasting apples.
Valley Farms has grown heritage apples for Arizona markets since 1978 under the Desert Sweet brand. In 1990, the Willcox-based farm transitioned to organic, as certified by federal and Oregon Tilth guidelines. Chris Grallert, general manager of Valley Farms, has even higher goals for the farm’s future. He plans to employ sustainable methods to secure “the triple bottom line: fiscal, social, and ecological”—also known as the “profit, people, planet plan.”
Chris plans on achieving this threefold sustainability by expanding to a year-round bounty, supplementing the farm’s apple crop with berries, vegetables, and grain. They’ll continue their ecological ambitions by refining their organic methods. To save water and valuable natural nutrients, they seed the area between trees with pasture grass and don’t till the soil. For the “people” part of the plan, Valley Farms regularly donates apples to children’s hunger foundations, schools, and many local charities.