Growing up on my family's farm near Las Cruces, New Mexico, cotton was a major factor in our lives. It put food on our table, paid the mortgage on the land, provided my first job, a place to play...you name it, cotton was part of it. My first trip to DisneyWorld was to a cotton convention, even my first trip to New York City, first Broadway play and first 7-course meal had a tie to cotton!
On the way to show a home in Marana today, I took the frontage road next to I-10 and saw the cotton modules on the side of the fields, ready to be taken to the gin. A little bit of nostalgia washed over me...a little sadness and more than a dose of resignation to the fact that I won't see much cotton in Arizona anymore.
Farms like this one are being developed. Just north of this field is the Gladden Farms subdivision...on the other side of which is another cotton field, then the new Marana Municipal Center. There isn't much money to be made raising cotton in America. The price of cotton has not kept up with the cost of producing it at a highly mechanized and efficient rate. Overseas, the cost of production is much less because of a greatly cheaper labor pool and fewer regulations.
Like it or not, things change and life neccessitates adaptation. When I was a kid, the cotton picker machines would dump into a box-like trailer to be taken for ginning. We had lots of fun climbing into the trailer, digging forts and throwing handfuls of the soft, puffy stuff at each other...all in the name of tromping it down to fit more in the trailer! Now modules like this have replaced those trailers, hydraulically compressed into dense, loadable packages for more efficiency. I'll bet the kids still find some way to have a little fun around cotton fields...that's what being a kid is all about.
King Cotton is becoming King Casa. Some people will be bitter, others will point fingers and try to stop all development in the name of preservation, and still more won't care. There are all sides to it, each with their own merits. Change is like the river...you can harness it, you can channel it, divert it, shape it, try to manage it, but you can't stop it.
I like to think that we are an intelligent people who value our past while improving upon it. Some developers are integrating their developments around working agricultural concerns, preserving farm heritage as an enhancement to the quality of life. Perhaps that in itself will be the wave of the future...