Phoenix Orchard Project / by Christoph Kaiser

A few years ago a friend and I almost started a beer garden / restaurant that was to be called Avion Cafe, just north of downtown Phoenix.  A simple kit of parts consisting of box trees, a vintage Avion trailer food truck, outdoor furniture and a mobile bathroom facility.  The project very unfortunately became entangled in an unyielding web of sticky red tape, and we ended up selling the venture to someone with more ‘pioneer’ in their blood, but an idea was hatched.

Phoenix Orchard Project is an idea that brings undeveloped parcels in Phoenix full circle, back to their agricultural past.  We used to have citrus groves and broccoli fields in Phoenix – everywhere.  They were scraped, then developed, then scraped again.  POP is a proposal to bring the green back to the urban core, specifically to lots whose owners are long term hold-outs - property owners waiting to sell for high-rise prices.  POP is a means to employ stagnant land in the interim, with a non-scaring, air quality boosting, heat island effect reducing, beautifying kit of parts, consisting primarily of box trees, inventory, from existing nurseries, but also sometimes food trucks and water features and outdoor movie screens, giant outdoor chess boards and playgrounds, and urban gardens.  What if property taxes for vacant land owners in central city areas were increased with time to discourage urban stagnation, and at the same time fund something like the city-greening POP initiative?  These aren’t city parks with endless swaths of green grass, but something that I think is much more environmentally defensible.

The site shown here is at 9th Street and Roosevelt in Garfield Historic District – a project proposed by ASU’s Desert Initiative Director Greg Esser to expand Garfield Historic District’s “Phoenix Hostel” with ancillary vintage trailer ‘rooms'  tucked into a small, mobile forest of 24” box-trees and a food truck.