The San Xavier Co-op Farm produces native crops to support the cultural and environmental values of the Tohono Oodham Nation.

Each year, the farm navigates economic and weather-related hurdles. On top of that, this year, theyve had to pay more in rent.

One of the biggest responsibilities we have is the land lease payment to the land owners for the co-op, which is over $70,000 I want to say, twice a year to the land owners for the co-op, said Duran Andrews, the farm manager.

So, theyve been working with the budget. The co-op has also invested more in traditional crops theyve been growing for years. Theyre hoping their specialty crops will bring in more revenue. Some of the main crops include tepary beans and yellow watermelon.

In the past, theres been a lot of demand for yellow watermelons from the community, as well as organizations that know about the yellow watermelons. In my opinion, theyre sweeter and thats how they stand out so much, Andrews said.

Last year, they grew the yellow watermelon on five acres of land and sold packages cut up with seeds taken out. This year, they moved the patch to a ten acre space and are planning to sell full watermelons.

Were hoping thats going to be successful, with the exception of the weather, said Andrews.

Duran Andrews said the yellow watermelon is expected to be ready at the farm by the end of October.

The crops have survived the heat so far this summer, but it is taking a toll on the workers.

Being that its so hot, we try to adjust our schedules of working early mornings or early evenings, but sometimes we cant help it and have to work during the day. So its just making sure we drink lots of water and take breaks when we need to, said inventory coordinator Jamie Encinas.

Their commitment to the farm and the community helps them get through the sweltering days. The passion that they have to be here for so long to make sure that what we do here is also shared knowledge to teach younger generations what we do here, she said.