Valley of Sunflowers, Roosevelt Row

Roosevelt Row Launches Valley of the Sunflowers

Downtown Phoenix is about to get a little brighter thanks to Roosevelt Row.

The Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation (CDC) has leased a vacant parcel in the Evans Churchill neighborhood in downtown Phoenix from the City of Phoenix to grow a two-acre field of sunflowers. The sunflowers will not only temporarily activate and beautify an empty lot, but the sunflowers will be harvested and pressed for seed oil to produce biodiesel fuel to power the Bioscience High School’s hybrid solar-biofuel vehicle, which is currently in its construction phase.

Additional seeds and flowers will be sold at the Phoenix Public Market to fund additional biodiesel projects at the Bioscience High School.

Valley of the Sunflowers (VOS) is part of Roosevelt Rows A.R.T.S. (Adaptive Reuse of Temporary Space) Garden program. It will be located on the vacant city block between Fifth and Sixth Streets and Garfield and  McKinley Streets. VOS has two planting seasons.The first planting will take place this month, with the harvest in January 2012. The second planting will take place in late February 2012 with harvest in May 2012.

Kenny Barrett, artist and project manager for Roosevelt Row developed the idea for the Valley of the Sunflowers while living at the corner of Sixth Street and Garfield. Barrett co-founded the Growhouse, the Roosevelt Row community garden at Sixth Street and Garfield.

“The idea came from a living-fence of sunflowers that we grew at the Growhouse,” Barrett said. “I used to stare out my kitchen window at the vacant field and think it would be beautiful to just see sunflowers. Sunflowers make people happy.”

ASU Global Institute of Sustainability Fellow Braden Kay brought in the Bioscience High School for the partnership. The schools northern windows face the vacant parcel and they had a biodiesel car in production.

For more information on Roosevelt Row and the Valley of the Sunflowers, visit


About Michael Gossie

Michael Gossie is an award-winning journalist who has earned more than 50 awards for writing, editing and design. He studied economics at Elmira College in Elmira, N.Y., and put his entrepreneurial spirit to work in 2007, using a 200-year-old family recipe to launch an Italian sauce company. He is a competitive marathon runner, Ironman triathlete and is most proud of being the founding president of the Steuben Arc Foundation in Upstate New York, which serves individuals with developmental disabilities, including his sister.