In the cool shade of solar panels, a lush plot of herbs and vegetables hints at one possible future for farming in the desert.
At the moment, that future includes more basil than researchers know what to do with.
“We’ve been pulling out pounds of it every week,” said University of Arizona biogeographer Greg Barron-Gafford. “All of us are getting a little sick of pesto and pizza and mozzarella at this point.”
The experimental garden at Biosphere 2 about 35 miles north of Tucson is part of a wider effort to radically reshape desert food production to meet the growing challenges posed by climate change.
The 14 researchers from the Southwest and Mexico believe their model can produce a sustainable, local source of food that will improve the health and well-being of consumers and farmworkers alike.