Saturday, January 28, 2006

Housing development, freeway spell end of Glendale's Tanita Farms

[Source: Scott Wong, Arizona Republic] -- After nearly 80 years, one of the Valley's last remaining Japanese-American farming families has greased the old tractor for the last time. The Tanita family, which for more than a decade sold freshly picked organic fruits and vegetables from a rustic steel shack along Loop 303, has cashed out on the last of its agricultural land. The new Estrella Freeway and more homes will be built on the 70-acre Waddell farm. The closure of Tanita Farms marks the end to three generations of farming for the family. And it's left both patrons and employees at a loss for words. "I know they need (the freeway), but it's sad to see the farm go," six-year employee Tonya Reynolds managed to say before choking up and walking away.

The farm, near the Wildlife World Zoo just south of Northern Avenue, produced up to 100 crops a year, from watermelons and sweet corn to broccoli and bok choy. Specialty items included wasabi peanuts, dried chili peppers and Japanese rice crackers. Customers seemed resigned that the new freeway will mean the farm and other remnants of the West Valley's agricultural roots will be no more. "We're going to miss it, but that's the price of progress," said Goodyear resident Robert Lehto, who was picking up a bag of navel oranges with his wife, Collette. "It's just the downside of all the growth in this area."

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo of Susie Porter, Tonya Reynolds, and Rusty Tanita of Tanita Farms, Michael Ging, Arizona Republic.]