Discover life in the desert, Native Gypsies style.
My husband and I traveled to the Phoenix/Mesa area to meet up with my parents as soon as we returned home from our winter in Slovakia. Join along for a Southwest photo tour of healthy Arizona travel in Gilbert. We’ll visit a farm and farmer’s market, discover great food and climb a mountain.
- FRUIT TREES
This Minnesota girl certainly didn’t grow up picking fragrant lemons off the tree to make alkalizing lemon water. Though not a farm, many backyards house citrus trees!
The hubby impressed with his juggling skills.
- OLIVE MILL
With the recent purity concerns of Italian olive oil (along with fear of supporting mafia monopolies), we were excited to visit the Queen Creek Olive Mill, an olive grove, cafe and store near Gilbert. Sample olive oils infused with anything from peppers to chocolate, sign up for a tour, and support local farmers and business by purchasing U.S. olive oil. Read more about their sustainable practices and pesticide-free farming.
Our next farm stop (Agritopia) was one of the first agrihoods in the country! The Johnston family has owned and operated the farm over 50 years, which has since transformed into a community of homes intertwined with an organic working farm. Gardens, livestock, fruit trees, grapevines and vegetables stand out in the middle of this bustling suburb community. I joked with my dad that we should convert his farmland into a neighborhood, C.S.A., restaurant and farm stand like this one!
If you’re a junker and ‘upcycler’ (and if you’re a regular on our site, I’m sure you are), you’ll love what Agritopia did with the old farm buildings. A machine shed, after an extreme makeover, became The Coffee Shop. The former Johnston farmhouse was converted into Joe’s Farm Grill (their healthy take on ‘fast food’ restaurant). The latter was featured on my husband’s favorite show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We ate at both Agritopia restaurants! See more below.
On my short walk from the parking lot and The Coffee Shop, I was already in Arizona heaven smelling the blossoms on the rows of orange trees. Capture the scent in a bottle with neroli oil.*
My husband and I took my parents to The Coffee Shop (at Agritopia) for a healthy, farm-to-table breakfast. Instead, the joke was on us when we walked in and everyone spotted the most incredible cupcakes we’d ever seen. It’s no wonder they were featured on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars. Note: We still polished off their yummy omelettes and egg burritos, but cupcakes were devoured by all!
Even looking at that picture again makes my mouth water!
- A few steps from The Coffee Shop’s entrance, you can shop for local organic produce at the Farm at Agritopia’s 24 hour a day farm stand.
My family shopped for fresh citrus; pay is handled on the honor system, just like so many Minnesota farm stands back home.
- GILBERT FARMERS MARKET
The Gilbert Farmer’s Market deserves a post of its own! You’ll find everything here from powdered toothpaste to organic medicinal wine to fresh-pressed juice. Even my parents were impressed.
Ate one too many cupcakes at The Coffee Shop? Sweat it out in the dry, desert heat as you climb Hieroglyphics Trail near Gold Canyon (the surprise carved into the rocks at the end of the trail is worth it). Or check out any number of trails in the Superstition Mountain area for intermediate to advanced routes.
If you are traveling to Phoenix or Mesa, Gilbert (with it’s quaint main street and variety of food and farms) is a must-see. And a must-enjoy!
Do you live in or have traveled to Gilbert? Let the Native Gypsies community know what other treasures lie within the desert.
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