Admiration, appreciation, and passion for agriculture has a long history in this Arizona farm family.
Gary and Carrie (Harris) Mayfield have been farming in Buckeye, Arizona since 1996. They raise cotton, wheat, barley, vegetables, onion transplants and various other specialty crops. Along with those crops they have raised 3 children who have all now married and given them 9 grandchildren. Jacob, their son, will soon be buying the operation making him the 4th generation farmer.
While attending Central Arizona College, Gary and Carrie's paths crossed in a very unique way. Carrie joined the rodeo team and Gary taught her how to rope! They then both went on to the University of Arizona where they each earned a degree in Agriculture. Gary's major is Entomology and Carrie’s is Agriculture Communications. Fun family fact: All their children and one son-in-law, Matt, went to the UofA and they all took the same weather class! Safe to say that the Mayfield family knows how to “Bear Down”.
Gary and Carrie on their wedding day. They celebrate 35 years of marriage this year.
Cotton and wheat were incorporated into the bouquet to honor their farming roots.
Prior to their ownership of the farming operation in 1996, both Gary and Carrie’s sides of the family have a lengthy background in Arizona agriculture. Carrie was generous to answer our questions as we connect with and learn more about this wonderful Arizona farm family.
- Tell us the history, heritage, and current status of your farm operation(s):
Gary and I are 3rd generation farmers. My (Carrie’s) Grandfather, Luis Flores, immigrated from Mexico as a young man to Eloy, AZ. He was a mechanic during WWII. After the war he then began to share crop with a local farmer. Eventually he was able to buy his own land and farm. My Dad, Wayland Harris, came to Eloy from Oklahoma when his family came and ran cotton camps during cotton picking season. Eventually my parents were married, and my dad took over my Grandpa Flores’ farm. As a kid I spent a lot of summers working on the farm with my Dad and Grandfather. Those were happy experiences for me.
Wayland Harris irrigating on the farm in Eloy, AZ.
Gary’s Grandfather and Dad began farming in Buckeye. His grandfather, Charlie Mayfield, owned a welding shop in Chandler before they made the move to farm in Buckeye. Gary’s Dad, Richard, then farmed the property until he retired and Gary and I bought the farming operation in 1996.
Richard Mayfield in the onion field.
- When you reflect on your childhood, what are some things that stick out most in relation to agriculture and/or your agricultural roots?
One of my (Carrie) favorite memories was spraying weeds in the cotton off an old red tractor. It was so old that it had to cranked to start it. We had two seats in the front that you would sit on and spray and a driver. Everyone of us kids wanted to be the driver. The problem with being the driver is that if you stalled out the tractor none of us were strong enough to crank start it. For those of you old enough to remember, we had no cell phones, so we had to wait until my Dad would come back around and check on us. That meant there a substantial amount of down time and the driver was no longer the driver!
- Through the years, what are some farming practices you have implemented to improve the farm?
One of the most significant practices that we have implemented is investing in sprinklers to irrigate the crops. It helps conserve our water supply.
- When you hear the phrase, “Every day is Earth Day to a farmer and rancher”, what does this mean in your perspective?
I think that ‘Every Day is Earth Day’ to a farmer is true. We constantly must evaluate how our farming practices affect the soil, the pest pressure including “good bugs” and harmful as well as constantly having to watch the weather. We rotate our crops so that our soil can “rest” and we fertilize our crops with natural fertilizers like cow manure to rejuvenate the soil and recycle waste. So, there is always thought into the natural cycle of nature as we farm.
- What do you love the most about farming and/or the agriculture industry in general?
I love farming because it is a way of life, not just a job. Our children never thought their dad had a job. We were always at the farm together, so they figured it was not a job but just our life. So true!
- What are some ways you stay active in your community?
I have stayed active by volunteering at our local library over the years, Gary and I both served on local school boards, and both of us are character coaches for our local high school sports teams. Through my blog, Sweet Flower Home, I have been able to donate scholarships to high school students and bring agriculture awareness through my social media to a whole group of people who would have otherwise never known the stages of cotton or broccoli growing in a field and making it to your favorite pair of jeans or on your dinner plate!
- What is one fact or achievement that few people know about you?
My first job out of college was a radio announcer in Yuma. I produced an hour live agriculture radio show and sold and produced the commercials for the show. That’s how I talked the station into letting me do the show. I had never been on the radio before!
- In your opinion, how will the next generation of agriculturalists need to operate to be successful?
I think the future generation will have to be not only knowledgeable about farming practices but business. The business of farming today is such a huge part of the operation. There are so many new government rules and regulations that must be adhered to. Also, the global economy that we live in dictates what we are doing on our local farm.
- What is the best life advice that you have received and/or can give?
Love what you do. If it is your job or your hobby makes sure that it brings joy to your life! Be willing to never stop chasing those dreams even when there are more years behind you than in front you.
- Complete this sentence: I am still farming because…
We are still farming because we love it! But we are just about to turn over the farm to our son, Jacob, to begin his solo career. Which will bring us great joy to see him carry on the farming lifestyle.
Jacob and Gary in their onion field.
- Complete this sentence: I am an AZ Farm Bureau member because…
Farm Bureau is champion of the farmer. It is the most effective way to effect change through the legislature. It is the power of the greater farming community with a single voice.
Carrie has another passion alongside farming and that is her passion to share hospitality. She desires to encourage people to make others welcome in their homes, on the road and in everyday life! This is the drive behind Sweet Flower Home. Sweet Flower Home is a blog to inspire hospitality through connecting with others by way of beautiful flowers and a cozy home. Through this blog, Carrie shares lifestyle, home, and event ideas. She also hosts workshops and photography sessions at her beautiful farmhouse in Buckeye. Visit her website, https://www.sweetflowerhome.com/, for more information.
Everyone at the Arizona Farm Bureau Federation is grateful for the hardworking farm and ranch families across our great state. A special ‘thank you’ to the Mayfield family for sharing their story.
If you are not yet a member of the AZ Farm Bureau family, sign up today! Whether you are involved with an agriculture business or wish to support our local farm and ranch families, an AZ Farm Bureau membership will benefit you and all of agriculture across Arizona. Please sign up here: https://www.azfb.org/Join.
Arizona Farm Bureau member profiles are a part of an ongoing series of our Arizona farm and ranch businesses and their families. If you would like to share your farm or ranch family story, please email Erin Kuiper at firstname.lastname@example.org.