|Written by Mark Lineberger|
|Tuesday, 06 December 2011 00:00|
Three years ago, Camp Verde resident Freddy Munoz decided he’d like to take a shot at working the land.
He put together some pieces of land in Middle Verde, his own and other adjacent plots owned by out-of-town relatives, and started a small farm.
From the looks of his produce stand, it’s been bountiful.
He normally travels around the regional farmers market circuit to places like Cornville and Payson in his pickup truck with the stand in tow, emblazoned with the slogan, “Food is Life.”
He makes a few bucks here and there selling the fruits of his labor.
Last week, Munoz decided to give a little bit back to the community.
On Nov. 22, a few hours before the local Bread of Life Mission’s free weekly dinner in downtown Camp Verde, Munoz pulled his truck and mobile vegetable shop into the parking lot across the street, filled with all sorts of delicious vegetables and leafy greens.
This time, Munoz wasn’t there to make any money, he was there to give the food away to whoever needed it.
“It’s just a way of contributing,” Munoz said. “I have an abundance. I sold all season long and this isn’t going to do any good just sitting around at home. The Lord said ‘help your brethren.’”
An electrician by trade for 35 years, the Flagstaff native said he never really planned on becoming a farmer.
“I didn’t really have any idea what I was going to do with my retirement years,” Munoz said.
His job took him to work in different parts of Arizona before he set out for greener pastures when work here started to slow down.
He eventually ended up in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he met his wife, Colleen.
When it came time to quit working, Munoz knew he didn’t want to return to Flagstaff.
“I couldn’t take the cold anymore,” Munoz said.
It just so happened that the land down in the Verde Valley was available. Munoz said it had just been sitting there for years, with no one with any real plans to use it.
It also happened that an old high school buddy had already been down here farming in the area for around a decade, so with the help of gardener and restaurant owner Freddy Wong, Munoz started to learn how to work the land.
With his land and the land his cousins said he could use, Munoz said he has about an acre for his vegetables.
“It’s plenty of work for one person,” Munoz said.
Munoz’s one-acre enterprise goes my the name Da’-Nede’, a variation on a Navajo word Munoz said he chose in honor of a friend.
He mixes up the seeds he orders and what he plants in different growing seasons.
That’s something else Munoz likes about farming in Camp Verde.
“There’s two growing seasons,” Munoz said. “The summer ends and then the winter starts.”
There are no chemicals at all used on Munoz’s crops. The entire operation is pesticide-free.
“It may have been nibbled on by grasshoppers,” Munoz said. “But it’s all there where it counts when it comes to taste and nutrition.”
Munoz doesn’t see himself giving up the farming habit anytime soon.
“It’s been a lot of fun. It’s been a lot of work too, but it’s something I really enjoy,” Munoz said.
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