Meet Arizona Agriculture’s Ham Family

By Lauren Scott, Arizona Farm Bureau Intern and Julie Murphree, Arizona Farm Bureau Communication Director: You might say that community involvement and volunteerism brought this couple together, specifically 4-H, and their continued involvement in their family and volunteerism helps keep this couple engaged in their community.

Kris and Garrett Ham with their two boys.

Garrett and Kris Ham residence of Sahuarita, Arizona, met 27 years ago while attending a 4-H meeting where they were both volunteer leaders and ultimately fell in love. Their two sons, Carter (20), a University of Arizona sophomore and grateful recipient of a Pima County Farm Bureau scholarship last year, and Payson (18), a senior at Walden Grove High School, who also plans to attend the University of Arizona next year, appear to be as engaged as their parents.

Garrett is founder and co-owner of Santa Rita Landscaping, a full service landscaping company based in Tucson, Az. Kris is a University of Arizona graduate and worked as a livestock show manager in Arizona and Texas. She also served for a short time as the bookkeeper for Santa Rita Landscaping prior to going on permanent maternity leave 18 years ago. She currently is a part-time volunteer.

The Ham family's landscaping business.

The couple continues their involvement with 4-H as local club leaders, county leaders and they currently both serve on the Pima County Jr. Livestock Sales Committee where Garrett is the treasurer and Kris is the sale clerk.

In addition to volunteering for 4-H, Garrett and Kris have served on the Copper Hills Little League board. They are both involved with the Arizona National Livestock Show, Garrett serves on the Board of Directors and Kris is the co-superintendent of the Swine Show.  Garrett was a founder and treasurer for the Pack 12 club baseball team. Kris is in her second term on the Sahuarita Unified School District Governing Board.

When they are not at a 4-H or livestock show, they enjoy watching Payson play baseball and travelling. Garrett also likes to hunt and fish with his boys.

The Hams are this year’s recipients of Pima County Farm Bureau’s Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award, presented to them during the county’s August Annual Meeting.

An interview with Garrett and Kris Ham of Sahuarita, Arizona.  

Part of an ongoing series about Arizona’s farmers and ranchers.

Tell us about your agribusiness, your landscape business: Garrett founded Santa Rita Landscaping while he was a student at Sahuarita High School, working after school and on weekends maintaining yards in the Sahuarita/Green Valley area. When he turned 18 and was able to apply for a contractor’s license he received his license and grew the business to include landscape design and installation, which he did by himself until he could afford to hire help.

Today, serving all of Southern Arizona, Santa Rita Landscaping has grown to include residential design and installation, commercial builder services, commercial maintenance and construction compliance services.  Through the years Kris and their two sons, Carter and Payson, have worked at Santa Rita. Carter is currently working part time in the accounting department while attending the University of Arizona.

Tell us about your conservation practices as tied in with the business: The landscape construction business is all about water conservation and soil health. In the southwest, drought tolerant and low-maintenance landscaping is important. With the use of timed drip irrigation systems and healthy soils landscape plants thrive in our arid environment.

With weather detection technology, home and business owners save water and money by skipping an irrigation cycle when there is a rain event allowing mother nature to provide needed moisture.

What changes have you seen in the landscape industry? Changes within the landscaping industry include improvement in technology with the use of CAD for landscape designs and irrigation technology with Smart Controllers. Challenges in the landscaping business include a shortage of skilled labor and availability of quality nursery stock.

What is your level of education? Garrett took classes at Pima Community College while focusing on growing his business. Kris has a B.S. in Animal Production Agriculture from the University of Arizona.

Will the next generation go into the family business? Both of our boys have worked or are currently working for Santa Rita Landscaping. It is hard to tell if either of them will go into the landscaping business. There is a good chance they will both pursue careers in agriculture. Carter is a sophomore at the University of Arizona studying Ag-Business. Payson is a senior at Walden Grove High School and is currently serving an internship at a local veterinarian’s office with the thought of pursuing a DVM degree.

Tell us about your community involvement and volunteerism: Garrett and Kris have volunteered with Pima County 4-H and the Pima County Junior Livestock Sale Committee for over 25 years. Garrett serves as the sale treasurer and Kris is the sale clerk. In addition to 4-H, they have both volunteered for Copper Hill Little League and are both members and volunteers for the Arizona National Livestock Show. Garrett serves on the ANLS Board of Directors and Kris is co-superintendent of the swine show. Kris is currently serving in her eighth year as a Sahuarita Unified School District Governing Board Member.

What do you love about what you do? The best part of our business is the construction of a landscape, seeing a design come together into a full-grown landscape is very fulfilling.                        

What are your interests and hobbies? In our free time we enjoy following our boys activities. Carter and Payson both have been 4-H members since the age of nine and have shown pigs, steers, goats and one sheep; locally, regionally and nationally. Carter played soccer and Payson will complete his high school baseball career in the spring of 2017. Our entire family enjoys travelling across the United States and internationally. Garrett and the boys also like to hunt and fish.

Why are you Farm Bureau members? Our family is a member of Pima County Farm Bureau because of our support for agriculture and the support they have given our family through Pima County 4-H.

What business advice would you give someone? The best business advice we can give is “Don’t be impatient when starting a business, success doesn’t come overnight.”