In 2015, the Steele Foundation donated the Cracchiolo DK Ranch to the University of Arizona to assist with the planned Veterinary Medicine program. While those plans are developing, the University is exploring additional and compatible uses for the nearly 40 acres of irrigated pastureland bordering Oak Creek between Page Springs and Cornville.
The University of Arizona’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is looking to collaborate with a public or private entity to develop 10-15 acres of the Cracchiolo DK Ranch for the joint purposes of:
- Producing “locally-sourced” vegetables and fruits primarily for sale to restaurants in Yavapai and Coconino counties, Arizona; and
- Supporting education programs delivered by University of Arizona Cooperative Extension and academic units and Yavapai College.
This experimental program hopes to improve the local food markets in the Sedona and Verde Valley areas while encouraging sustainable, water-responsible agriculture education.
“There’s a large number of tourists that visit Sedona every year and a surprisingly low amount of local foods on local menus,” Mitch McClaran, Associate Director University’s Agricultural Experiment Station commented on the reasoning behind offering the land for partner use. He is excited to repurpose the irrigated land of the east pastures into productive, food-generating land. The expectation is for a significant portion of the food produced on the Ranch to be served in local restaurants, and the remainder provided to the community through CSAs, farmer’s markets, schools, hospitals, community food banks, and similar outlets. The University is looking to collaborate with one or more grower/restaurant teams to help realize this vision, and they hope the program serves as an incubator for similar projects throughout the Verde Valley.
University of Arizona representatives are still accepting Letters of Interest for parties interested in cultivating land plots for food production. A Letter of Interest is not a prerequisite to submit a formal proposal; the Request for Proposals will open in fall 2017.
Mitch McClaran will attend the 2017 Farmer + Chef Connection on Monday, September 11 in Northern Arizona along with several representatives from DK Ranch, and is happy to speak with interested parties at the event. You can also contact Jeff Schalau (UA Cooperative Extension Yavapai County, firstname.lastname@example.org, 928-445-6590 ext 224) or Mitch McClaran (UA Arizona Experiment Station, email@example.com, 520-390-9801) for further information.