Phoenix — America's hottest and fastest-growing big city — is on the frontlines in the fight against drought, extreme heat, and wildfire. We bring you stories of how these global problems affect real Arizonans, and what is being done to solve them. This podcast series is supported by the Arizona Community Foundation and Intel.

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Water Pt. 3: Old Technology

Tohono O'odham farmer Sterling Johnson
Tohono O'odham farmer Sterling Johnson stands in front of his dryland farming field. Here, he uses time-tested indigenous methods to grow crops with no irrigation whatsoever, relying only on rainwater. (Photo by Luke Simmons)
Anthony J. Wallace

Fast-growing Phoenix is sometimes thought of as a “new” or “up and coming” place without much history. But as we learn in this episode, it was actually born from the ashes of a thriving culture with centuries of accumulated knowledge about how to thrive and grow food in a dry desert. In this third part of our water series, we look to the past for solutions to our current-day water problems. We explore the engineering prowess of Phoenix’s original inhabitants and travel to Ajo, Arizona where some of their descendants are working to revitalize traditional growing methods and water-efficient foods.

Anthony J. Wallace