Just as Julius Caesar saw France’s predecessor as divided into three parts, Eric Amadio looks at Ahwatukee as three distinct communities.
The Laveen farmer and his 1964 one-ton, cherry-red truck is already a presence in one part, the southernmost around Chandler Boulevard.
Last Saturday, he and his partner-and-wife Christina set up their once-a-week produce-and-baked goods Amadio Peach Truck in the easternmost portion of Ahwatukee, leaving the western portion of the community for perhaps another time.
But just like Caesar conquered Gaul, one can’t help feeling it’s a matter of time before Amadio brings seasonal fruit and vegetables from his and other Laveen farms to that area as well.
For more than a year, the Amadio Ranch owner is a weekly presence from 3:30-6:30 p.m. Friday evenings in the parking lot of Century 21 Arizona Foothills, located at the northwest corner of 40th Street and Chandler Boulevard.
As of last weekend, he will now be a presence from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays at the ballfields near the northwest corner of 48th Street and Warner Road.
“We feel like there are three Ahwatukees: around Chandler and Ray, Elliott-Warner and the Foothills,” said the Chandler High graduate.
Stating he noticed many people in those areas “don’t go too far out of their neighborhood” to shop for items like what he sells, so, he decided, “We wanted to bring our produce to them.”
Right now, he has an array of vegetables of the season – onions, sweet potatoes, potatoes, garlic, Armenian cucumber, eggplant, okra, dates, and watermelon – as well as pies, cobblers fruit preserves and other sweet treats made from scratch.
During other seasons, expect tomatoes, sweet corn, squashes including zucchini and butternut, as well as cantaloupe.
In a matter of months, winter will bring lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, kale, collard greens, cabbage, Brussel sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, kohlrabi, radishes and carrots.
For people who can’t get to his truck, he also has the Amadio Ranch Farm Store at 4701 W. Dobbins Road, a family-owned and operated organic foods farm that opened in 2010.
The Amadio Farms Peach Truck also carries raw honey produced by his own bees and organic eggs laid by scores of family’s chickens. There also are preserves
There are actually several Peach Trucks, however, the Big Red is the one that rumbles into Ahwatukee with nature’s bounty.
Both Amadio Ranch and its vintage business logo – a picture-perfect ripe peach against a background of green rolling hills and orchards – hearken a simpler time.
He designed it to look like turn-of-the-century fruit-box labels and also reflects the fact his farm is primarily a peach farm.
“We’re primarily a peach farm. Peaches are what we’re famous for more than anything and it’s what makes us unique,” he once told AFN.
“We farm more varieties of peaches and have a longer season than any other peach orchards in Phoenix. Actually, there are only two others left – Schnepf Farms and Pinnacle Farms,” he said.
And Amadio Ranch is the only local orchard that offers May, June, July and August peaches as opposed to just in May.
The family found their ranch property while living in downtown Phoenix but, through diligent work they turned an abandoned, neglected homestead into a thriving farm.
Even though neither came from a farming family, the Amadios built a livelihood from the property – which they initially purchased because Christina loves horses and wanted to keep them nearby instead of at a costly stable.
Each of Amadio Ranch’s Peach trucks is unique with its own backstory.
The Big Red, which arrives Friday afternoons in Ahwatukee, had a ‘frame-off’ restoration by a Verde Valley classic truck enthusiast; their white Lil’ Joe is a 1966 Chevrolet and was the first truck purchased to convert into a Peach Truck; Bertha, a yellow 1949 Chevy two-ton, was formerly a farm truck in Casa Grande; Sandy, a GMC two-ton, was bought new by Glendale’s Sanderson Farms in 1948 and was lovingly restored by the Amadios, who painted it the original teal blue color as shown in old photographs.
The Ranch’s oldest Peach Truck is a 1941 GMC two-ton named Pearl. It was one of the last trucks built before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, after which GM began building military vehicles.
“These trucks hearken back to a time when things were smaller and more local,” Eric Amadio said in an earlier interview.
“It’s difficult to stand out in an industry that can do things so much cheaper and more efficiently than a small family farm can. The Peach Trucks help us promote an image of old-fashioned ways and values, which is at the core of how and why we do all this.”
Amadio is looking forward to the opening of the South Mountain Freeway, which he figures will cut his 40-minute drive each away between Laveen and Ahwatukee from 40 minutes to less than 15.
Who knows? Maybe that will inspire him to take on that third part of Ahwatukee.
Information: amadioranch.com and Facebook.