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Nuestro Barrio – Urban Farming in South Phoenix

Nicholas Cortez, urban farmer

“Our most famous Nuestro Barrio resident, Nicholas Cortez has made the news again. Showcased are several projects at his home including a greywater project done by students in this Spring’s Water Harvesting Certification class, a site design by Jaime Mazzeo, gardens by Tami Stass and community support from Wendy Reese who has seen her Master’s Degree turn into a neighborhood revitalization project.”

Nuestro Barrio is located southeast of downtown Phoenix. It encompasses Cuatro Milpas and Ann Ott neighborhoods as well as a portion of the former Golden Gate Barrio. Within Nuestro Barrio, 321 households remain with 102 privately owned vacant lots.

Owner-occupied properties account for 55% of the residents. Approximately 40% of households have youth under age 18. The average high school graduation rate in the community is 33.2% (compared to 76.6% in Phoenix) and the average household income as of 2007 is under $15,000 per year (average median household income in Phoenix was $50,233).

Due to the location of the community, centered between the airport and downtown Phoenix, the land is extremely valuable. Over $140 million has been spent on the relocation and acquisition portion of the VARS program since 2004, though less than half of the residents in Nuestro Barrio have chosen to participate. The geographical location of Nuestro Barrio, from 7th street to 16th street, Buckeye to I-17, has been dubbed “the gateway to Sky Harbor” by the City of Phoenix. As such, the City has worked for the past 10 years to change the appearance of businesses along Buckeye Road and has invested in partnerships with Chicanos Por La Causa for The Ronnie Lopez Incubator Center with the intention of creating jobs for local residents while encouraging the relocation or clean-up of businesses such as salvage yards and light industry.

See more here.