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6/12/2013 6:00:00 AM
Farm going in at former Golden Valley development site
Workers plant pepper seedlings Friday morning at Kingman Farms. The farm is located on land owned by Jim Rhodes. Rhodes bought nearly 80,000 acres of property during the housing boom and planned to develop several large master planned communities in Mohave County, such as the 33,000-home Golden Valley community Pravada. He now plans to use around 1,000 to 1,500 acres to grow vegetables.SUZANNE ADAMS-OCKRASSA/Miner
Workers plant pepper seedlings Friday morning at Kingman Farms. The farm is located on land owned by Jim Rhodes. Rhodes bought nearly 80,000 acres of property during the housing boom and planned to develop several large master planned communities in Mohave County, such as the 33,000-home Golden Valley community Pravada. He now plans to use around 1,000 to 1,500 acres to grow vegetables.
SUZANNE ADAMS-OCKRASSA/Miner

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter


Correction: Many readers were tickled that the original version of this article said one of the farm's crops would be pickles - which, of course, can't be grown. The farm will, however, be growing a specific type of cucumber that's well-suited for making pickles. The Miner regrets the error, and adds that neither the reporter, editor nor source were pickled when the article was produced.

KINGMAN - Las Vegas developer Jim Rhodes has returned to Mohave County, but instead of planting houses in the Golden Valley and Red Lake areas, he's planting peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers headed for pickling.

Rhodes' newest company, Kingman Farms, has started breaking ground on a 200-acre commercial vegetable farm off of Aztec Road behind the three model homes he built for his former master planned community Pravada.

"It's his dream to turn the valley green and provide jobs for the area," said Dick Mills, general manger of farm operations.

Despite being in the middle of a desert, the Kingman and Golden Valley areas are ideal spots to farm because of how close they are to major highways and major markets, Mills said. The grand plan is to farm about 40,000 to 50,000 acres in Mohave County using a sophisticated underground, GPS drip irrigation system and sell the produce to national and local stores, restaurants and food services. There are also plans for a vegetable stand for the general public on Aztec Road near the entrance to the farm.

"Right now we're doing a lot of testing to see what grows best here," Mills said. "We've got peppers and tomatoes and pickles. We're hoping to plant several different kinds of hay, corn and cabbage at a later date. Right now we're just taking baby steps."

Mills said he is well aware of Rhodes controversial history with Mohave County.

"I've worked in this industry for 45 years. I did my research before signing on and he has stood behind his word," Mills said.

Rhodes bought nearly 80,000 acres of land in various parts of Mohave County during the housing boom in the early 2000s. He planned to use the land to build five different master planned communities in Mohave County near Temple Bar, White Hills, Golden Valley and two near the Kingman Airport. The developments would have added 119,300 new homes to the county.

Rhodes was sued by local businessman Scott Dunton over a land deal in 2007 and got wrapped up in a 2008 scandal involving the sale of six city of Kingman-owned well sites within Pravada's boundaries.

A year later, Rhodes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to protect 32 of his companies, along with the Las Vegas master planned communities of Rhodes Ranch and Tuscany and parts of Pravada.

He was also sued in 2009 by the Nevada Cancer Institute for not making good on a $10 million pledge and again in 2010 by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for defaulting on a $2.6 million loan for his Las Vegas Tropicana Durango project.

Rhodes battled for four years with the county, the Arizona Corporation Commission and local residents over groundwater use for his developments.

Most of Mohave County's communities, such as Golden Valley, depend on groundwater as their main source of drinking water. Golden Valley residents in particular were concerned that the more than 30,000 residential units planned for Pravada would drain the aquifer dry and leave them without water.

The ACC eventually granted Rhodes approval for wastewater and water treatment facilities for Pravada in 2008, but only after he sold his stock in the companies to Utilities, Inc.

Mills said he has assured several residents who have come to his office seeking information on the project that the company has a handle on the water issue.

"Mr. Rhodes spent millions of dollars on water studies for this area. There's more than enough water here for everyone. There's more water here than we could use in a generation," Mills said.

A 2007 U.S. Geological Survey study of the Sacramento Valley aquifer in Golden Valley showed water level declines of as much as 55 feet in some wells between 1943 and 2006.

Mills pointed to the underground drip irrigation system Kingman Farms has partnered with special white "mulching" plastic as proof of its pledge to conserve water.

Workers prepare the ground by removing all of the desert vegetation and spraying down the dirt with water. The dirt is then divided into rows using a GPS system on a tractor. The rows are lined with underground soaker hoses and covered with white plastic. Another machine comes along and punches holes in the plastic for workers to plant seedlings in. The water released by the soaker hoses is controlled by an automatic system that uses weather reports to determine how much water to give the plants.

You can actually smell the water when you stand in the fields and the dirt looks and feels more like a light, fluffy loam than coarse desert sand.

"You use a third less water with subterranean drip irrigation," Mills said. "Home owners use more water on their gardens by using a garden hose than we do on the same area of land. In fact, we use less water on an acre of land than an average household does."

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the average U.S. household can use 400 gallons a day. Mills did not have an exact figure for how much water the system would use because the company hasn't finished installing the system and planting crops.

However, he said every drop would be counted, along with everything else the farm does to its produce, and will be reported to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of the department's food safety program.

Mills also said the company is working to reduce the dust some of its equipment kicks up. However, not all of that dust is coming from Kingman Farms, Mills said. Some of it is coming from a nearby rock quarry and from the Mineral Park Mine. Weather also is also a big factor in how much dust is kicked up, he said. Gusty winds in mid-May created a huge problem despite the fact that the farm was watering the dust the whole time.

"Some days you will have dust, no matter what you do," Mills said. "We are wetting the ground before we work with it and we are fully in compliance with the (Arizona Department of Environmental Quality) regulations. Actually, agricultural industries are exempt from most of those regulations."

Mills said he welcomes people who want to talk with him about the farm. His office is located in one of the model homes off of Aztec Road. He can be reached at dmills@kingmanfarms.com.



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Related Stories:
• Rhodes facing scrutiny from BLM, Mohave County
• 'Beneficial use' trumps future of Kingman water supply
• Golden Valley farm raises water worries
• Feds sue Rhodes over loan
• Rhodes buys back Pravada
• Cancer institute sues Jim Rhodes for contract breach
• Rhodes files for bankruptcy


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Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, June 15, 2013
Article comment by: Linda Athens

I know from experience how well pecan trees do in the Kingman area.

Las Cruces, NM which is not too different than Kingman has huge pecan orchards. Stahmann Farms is but one and people love going to their store to buy pecans and all things pecan including fudge with pecan pieces. They also let tons of geese loose to eat any weeds in the orchards and kids love going there just to watch them. Visitng the farms is a fun day - used to take the kids and a picnic lunch.


Old Desert Woman mentioned fruit trees. I thought pecans might be better instead.


Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: me myself and I MR.C.

"The plow" What farmer do you know who uses a plow these days? Cash crops are in and by them self's a risky business. Rhodes, may have some knowledge about crop production to which no one else has. To Witt, anyone who can make NON productive acreage profitable, by engaging in the risk associated with farming more power to him.

Personally, i have seen blow sand "soil" produce corn crops and soy beans at sixty bushel a acre, increased to over ninety bushel after proper irrigation and "soil" additives. The very same acreage with abundant amount of residential homes and evergreen trees for privacy. Property owners bulldoze the tree and re zone to strictly agriculture, Why? Tax savings plus grant monies.


Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Old Time Kingmanite

LOL, Mr. Rhodes isn't stupid. Absolutely it lowers his tax base on that land. What is next sir, growing medical marijuana? I wouldn't be surprised.


Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Tired of It

Amazing comments. I'd much rather support an American builder/farmer from Las Vegas trying to feed the people here in the US than a copper mine from Canada, that uses more water PER DAY than all of Kingman/Golden Valley uses PER DAY, and sends all the money to where? Ruben Sanchez at BLM on Hualapai Mtn. Rd. can give you all the water usages from that mine any time you ask. About 5 million gallons PER DAY! And nobody knows or cares?

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Jack A. Lope

maybe the miner needs to do an investigation of WHY. I dont know how the water permit was written, but, some one who CLAIMS to be in the know. if he does not use the water allocation, SOON, he looses it. All this farm is is to keep HIS water. it does not matter what happens to the land untill HE is ready to build houses.

Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Jimi

“I'd like to get some of those pickles he's growing.”

You do know that you cannot grow … oh never mind.


Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Old Desert Woman

Other crops that grow here in Golden Valleys loam are peanuts and sweet potatoes. Peanuts are nitrogen fixing, the plant growth can be used for hay or mulch and peanuts are very high in protein and antioxidents. Sweet potatoes can be grown with another crop to shade the soil. Okra and eggplant produce very well here. I have grown all of these and know they like the desert and long growing seasons. Corn is so contaminated with GMO's that it is not a good candidate. I know I don't want my crops to be contaminated. We all want clean water, clean air and clean food. I hope we won't be subject to a lot of polutants.

The more mulch in the soil the less you have salty soil. A youtube video called, "Greening of the desert gives a good account of this and how the native trees that are nitrogen fixing provide shade and benefit for growing vegitables. I love a little orchard outside of Bakersfield going to Tehachapi where they have nine acres of fruit and nut trees, a petting zoo and a lovely fruit market. How about some fruit trees?


Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: Your Choice

"and the dirt looks and feels more like a light, fluffy loam than coarse desert sand."

Ha ha ha and that, my friends, is exactly what caused the Great Dust Bowl in Oklahoma: not enough top soil. That's what you have in Golden Valley. What a disaster.



Posted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

Wake up folks, a farm in Golden Valley?

Why would some one want to prove that their land is farm land? Give me a break, reduction in land tax for agriculture!!!!! It is just another ploy to hang on the the land while reducing the amount of land taxes paid to the county. Here we go again, the county gets screwed by big developer.


Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Scott McCoy

1st I would like to thank the MINER for writing this story after I had called and asked them to find out what was going on here.

It does make for an interesting story and only time will tell if the project will be a viable one or not.

I have invested in Golden Valley as well and can only hope that it does well and the entire valley prospers.


Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Site Steward

Here is the website to file industrial-caused dust complaints with the AZDEQ:

http://www.azdeq.gov/function/compliance/complaint.html


Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Two Words

Agrucultural Assessment.

Who wants to pay 16% valuation when you could pay pennies on the dollar, show water use to maintain your claim, and laugh all the way to the bank?


Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

The best news is Mr. Mills said they are not going to use GMO seeds. If you are unaware of dangers of GMO foods, best start researching.

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

Some of you people would complain if he cooked and gave you the food after growing it for you.

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Jimi Lightfoot

I hope he uses ground irrigation instead of the wasteful spray.

I wonder if maybe it would be more eco and money wise for him to buy tank trucks full of gray water from the sewage plant instead of paying for treated water.

Gray water is better for plants than the chemical treated drinking water.

I wish him well and good luck.

I'd like to get some of those pickles he's growing.


Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Mrs. Green Jeans

Those who think it impractical to farm in the Desert Southwest need to Google Mesilla Valley. Also, this business venture of Mr. Rhodes may not work out, but we should welcome the attempt of diversifying our economy. Just like we have the vineyards (near Valley Vista?).

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Grandma knows Best

Please tell me he owes not use gmo seed, or toxic chemicals!

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Dusty Resident

It's interesting that the photo shows such idyllic conditions. Lovely clear view and dampened soil, when in reality, the same day this article was published thick clouds of dirt and dust were headed north from the farm. We have been watching the progress of this farm since the day they started plowing the soil into dust. The only time water was on the field was when it was in a water truck next to huge piles of burning creosote. The nearby gravel pit rarely produces dust, and when it does it is minuscule in comparison. It's wrong the County of Mohave hasn't implemented codes that other Arizona counties have. The dust from a couple hundred acres that is being done now is nothing in comparison to what will be when he puts thousands of acres to the plow.

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

A man comes to start a farm in the desert and people complain? Not me I am looking forward to it and hope for the best for the project. Water usage and dust are basic issues of farming, so what? This area is residential/agricultural.

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Ned Warren

Jim Rhodes? What is his track record? Yup the new bridge at Hoover Dam will made Pravada boom. If you want to buy a bridge from Jim Rhodes, go for it. What about your one acre lot development overlooking Red Rock? The one you are blackmailing Clark County about? How about tailing piles estates in Henderson??

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Justa Thought

Interesting that they blame the nearby rock quarry and Mineral Park. I drive Shinarump and Aztec every day, and I can see where all the dust is coming from. NOT the rock quarry, and NOT Mineral Park. The vast majority of it is coming from all the land that Rhodes scraped clean for his development (south of his new farm) that went bankrupt in the bust of 2008! He has done NOTHING to control the dust from all that land, and his new farm is taking the rap. One word: KARMA!

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Knowlege thirsty

Exactly where is the water going to come from?Let's all plant grass and have fountains. I am all for the growing of crops, but not in the dessert ,it doesnt make any sense. If Mr. Rhodes cared the property would be used for solar or wind power something we have plenty of here !

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2013
Article comment by: Kingman Raised

"Mr. Rhodes spent millions of dollars on water studies for this area. There's more than enough water here for everyone. There's more water here than we could use in a generation," Mills said.

I am the sixth generation that was raised in Kingman and now I am raising the seventh. How is this water going to sustain for more generations to come. Jim Roades doesn't care about the future of Kingman or Golden Valley as he does filling his pockets with the profits. This is a horrible idea.


Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Article comment by: The Fox Hound

If you want to believe that Jim Rhodes cares about Golden Valley go ahead but you might ask yourself why nobody else has come along to farm the desert. There are ways to do this its called hydroponics and it uses one tenth of the water that Rhodes is using. Dylan Ratigan is doing it in California right now. He has put his money where his mouth is and he is training a bunch of vets to operate the farms. Rhodes is just trying to recoup some of the money he invested in water wells when he was here lying to us about the thousands of homes he said he was going to build. He just wants to steal our water and leave us high and dry. How many times do you people have to get swindled before you wise up. Amazing when the water is gone Rhodes will be gone as well.

Posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Article comment by: D D

Worst. Idea. Ever. This won't last. Nothing he does ever lasts.


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