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Meet Oren Molovinsky of Molovin Farms in Chandler

Today we’d like to introduce you to Oren Molovinsky.

Oren, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a restaurateur, who spent most of my life and career in the Washington, DC area. My wife Diana, is from Tempe, AZ. We met while we both worked for Marriott, and eventually got engaged. Diana moved to Washington, DC with me. We started a family and moved to McLean, Virginia. While operating some fine dining restaurants in the DC area, I started a cooperative effort with other restaurateurs and chefs called Farm to Table DC. We sourced products from farms in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, and I coordinated all of the logistics of getting the animals from the farm, to the butcher, to the restaurants. We also were able to purchase vegetables, cheese, and other locally grown, pasture-based products.

At the same time, Diana developed a network of like-minded farmers in the area, and she started a roadside farm market called BEC Farm Market (named after our children at the time, Brady, Ethan and Cameron). Diana would figure out how to get some wonderful locally grown, organic product from these farmers and sell them at two roadside markets in McLean. She was successful in introducing locally grown produce to the residents of McLean.

We then decided to move to Arizona, now with four children. We hoped to be able to continue with our passion for developing the local food economy. So Diana and I seek a property that we could develop into an orchard and farm. We were so lucky to find a property for sale directly across the street from the neighborhood we were moving into. It was slated for custom homes, but since it was on a County Island, we were able to purchase it and start growing produce right away.

Our 3.5-acre orchard / farm is irrigated through the RWDC, and we have worked with the Urban Farm & Nursery in Phoenix to plan over 350 fruit trees. Mostly varieties of peaches, however we have also plated apricots, plums, mulberries, pomegranates, grapes, blackberries, bananas, and figs. We also have grown vegetables, and have planted the trees so as to provide shade for the vegetables.

We intend to start growing heritage wheats and grains as well; and this Fall we will plan our first Sonoran Wheat. We hope to increase the size of our farm, and find more land that is slated for custom homes and convert the land to agricultural use so we can continue to feed out community.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has not been a smooth road! Moving to Arizona was a big move for our family, and not having our farmer family close by made us start from scratch in many ways. We have had to learn how to plant an orchard by trial and error. We have had many successes and many failures. Our primary struggles relate to water; we are currently dependent on the RWDC to provide irrigation water every 2 weeks. We don’t have access to “domestic water” for drip-irrigating vegetables, because the City of Chandler does not provide water for agricultural use. This has really limited what we can grow, which is why we have mainly planted fruit trees, which thrive with flood irrigation.

Finding a market for our produce is not easy either; this coming year we will have enough peaches to really make an impact. Hopefully we will find a great farmers market to be able to sell them at.

Molovin Farms – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
We grow open pollinated, heirloom variety fruits. These fruits, such as peaches, are so sweet and “peachy”, it is almost like you never had a peach before this one. We feed our soil only the most natural ingredients, no chemicals, herbicides or pesticides. In turn, our soil feeds our trees and fruit. Our five children are actively involved in our orchard and farm. We have goats and chickens that help with fertilizing the farm and mowing the grass. And we take a very low intensive approach to equipment. We have a walk behind Grillo tractor, which is very labor intensive but does the job. We recently purchased a 1961 McCormick Farmall tractor. It’s a beauty, and doesn’t do everything a modern tractor can do. We feel that putting a lot of elbow grease into farming makes the fruits and vegetables taste better, so our equipment is minimal.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
In the Washington, DC area; we are most proud of developing local agriculture and supporting so many family farmers who are trying to farm the “right way”. Without any chemicals! We are entrepreneurs; I own a restaurant in Arlington, VA; which is a very authentic Sichuan Chinese concept. I am very proud of this restaurant as it is a true representation of Sichuan cuisine. We are very proud of the farm we have created here in Chandler, and plan for it to be a catalyst for a booming local and sustainable food economy in the Phoenix area for generations to come.

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