You may have seen Kim "Kimski" Fox cycling around downtown, hauling compost, fruits and veggies in a bright-orange cart.
The 50-year-old micro-urban farmer with a master's degree in environmental science cultivates gardens throughout the Armory Park area, delivering the fruits of her labor to homes and businesses nearby.
Along with tilling plots for her neighbors, the food activist holds classes on the benefits of locally grown food under the name Pachamama's Garden.
Of the 26 countries she has visited, Fox said the United States is "one of the sickest and undernourished nations." The fault, she said, lies with big corporations' focus on manufacturing foods low in nutritional value.
Taking from 19th-century English botanist Sir Albert Howard - a pioneer in the world of organic farming - Fox believes, "When the soil is healthy, the nation is healthy."
"We are destroying the quality and the quantity of our soils," she said.
Rather than growing food, Fox said, large corporations in the U.S. are manufacturing it and using chemicals in their quest for quantity.
This results in the low nutritional value found in much of the produce sold by chain grocery stores and is compounded by the promotion of packaged goods such as chips, candy bars and frozen dinners.
The solution, she said, is to move away from manufactured foods that travel thousands of miles, and toward locally grown produce.
Lettuce, beets, cilantro, kale, chamomile, parsley, onions, garlic, spinach, potatoes and wheat are some of what can be found in Fox's gardens, along with free-range chickens.
Pachamama's patrons will attest that Fox's food is not only nutritional but has a superior taste.
"This is gold. I am telling you. It's no joke," Tabatha Bell says of Fox's salad mix. Bell works at Café Passé on North Fourth Avenue, where Fox's greens are served.
Sharon Ludwig, a local home builder and metalsmith who lives in Armory Park, also buys greens from Fox.
"When the greens are out of season and I have to go to the store and buy organic greens, it's like eating paper towels," Ludwig says.
Fox charges clients $40 to $75 for an hour and a half of work, based on what they can afford. She also holds two-hour workshops for $20 a pop.
"It gives me joy," she says, "to know I am helping people and the quality of their lives."
This summer, Fox will travel across Europe and visit with farmers, gardeners, and public and private agencies, conducting sustainable-food research.
"It's a food cultural-exchange on a global scale," she said.
Tucsonans can follow her journey at theoriginalhoe. blogspot.com
for more info
For more information about Pachamama's Garden, call 622-1917.
Bethany Conway is a UA journalism student who is apprenticing at the Star. Contact her at 573-4198 or at firstname.lastname@example.org