In an ongoing effort to diversify the economy, the residents of Ajo, Arizona have been working to become greener, healthier, and more economically stable in the former mining community.
They hope to attract more yearly visitors and new financial options.
Various organizations, including the chamber of commerce, are working on various projects.
Their ideas include those that focus on the art and culture of the town that is more than 100 miles west of Tucson on the western edge of Pima County.
Currently, Ajo is trying to transforming into a community that thrives on local gardens, sustainable agriculture, and other development ideas.
Aaron Cooper, director of the economic development program for the International Sonoran Desert Alliance said he is interested in the sustainable use of the surrounding desert land.
The residents are hoping to renovate the downtown area and create a tourist attraction with the natural beauty of the land, Cooper said.
What used to be asphalt at a K-12 Ajo school, is now a thriving garden with plants and even chickens.
Other projects are underway to turn build a commercial kitchen at the former school, have meeting areas, and provide a resort for conferences and conventions.
Adrian Vega, maintenance manager for facilities for the ISDA, used to play marbles on the asphalt of the school. He said he prefers the garden.
“I actually see it as a great opportunity for us,” Vega said. “I look at (Ajo) as a potential green town.”
Another sustainable goal for the area are solar-powered golf carts that would be used to give people tours of the town, according to Cooper.
Ashley Grove is a journalism student and an intern for Arizona Public Media