Santiago Gonzalez walks through his watermelon fields on an overcast morning in May, surveying the crops. Some of the melons are bright green; others still have a yellowish tinge. The lifelong West Valley farmer reaches down for one, splits it open with a pocket knife, and cuts a chunk from the center. The red, juicy melon melts in his mouth. It's sweet, but he knows it could be sweeter. And his trained eye knows the rind will get even brighter. He's still a few weeks from harvest.
It seems unlikely that the tough desert land near Phoenix could yield such nutrient-rich and delicate produce as watermelons, strawberries, tomatoes, and peaches. And yet it does.