Sunday, May 8, 2011

New Queen Creek homes come with peach-tree lease offer

Schnepf Farms peaches
Tom Tingle/Republic file photo

Maracay Homes is offering buyers in its new Queen Creek development a peach of a deal.

A peach-tree deal, to be exact.

The Scottsdale-based homebuilder has partnered with Schnepf Farms to include a seasonal "lease" of a peach tree with the purchase of every new house in their Legacy Trails at Lucia community, located just northeast of Sossaman and Ocotillo roads in Queen Creek.

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"Partnering with an iconic local institution like Schnepf Farms is a way to draw attention toward the special character of Queen Creek," said Maracay president Andy Warren, citing the town's "wonderful rural traditions" and "country feel."

The peach-tree leases not only highlight the community's agricultural heritage, but introduce new homeowners to one of its biggest attractions, said Blythe Sweeney, Maracay's director of marketing.

"A family can go and enjoy the benefits of the orchards and the magic that Schnepf Farms has created and enjoy the fruits of their labors," she said. "We're really excited about (the program). Hopefully it will become a tradition."

Here's how it works: For $195, new homebuyers will receive the bounty of their very own peach tree in one of the farm's orchards for one season.

Owner Mark Schnepf said they've run a "Lease a Peach Tree" program for five years.

Customers receive a certificate, an individual tree (with a map showing its location) and tickets for 10 free rides on the Schnepf Farm train.

During peach season, they can harvest the fruit from their trees. The farm provides boxes with liners to protect their peaches.

"We do all the work except the picking," said Schnepf.

Trees can yield 100 pounds of peaches. All trees in the lease program are of the Earligrande variety, and a peach can weigh from around a third to half a pound.

Schnepf said he usually has about 60 to 80 trees in one orchard set aside for leasing, but will expand that to accommodate the Maracay Homes leases.

New leases will be available to the public in July; they are usually sold out by February, which is when many renters like to come out to admire the peach blossoms.

"They are gorgeous," Schnepf said.

By mid-May, the peaches are ready for harvest.

Leasing a tree can give people a taste of what it's like to grow peaches, "but without having to do all the work," Schnepf said. "It's a joy for people to have that experience."

He sees his partnership with Maracay Homes not only as a way to introduce people to the region but as a good tie-in to the farm's annual Peach Festival, which takes place on the second and third weekends in May.

"It just worked out well with our grand opening and their peach season," said Warren. "It made sense to come together."

The Legacy Trails at Lucia community has sites for 48 homes, each featuring an array of energy efficient elements. Floor plans range from 2,204 up to 4,089 square feet; prices start in the low $200,000s.

Schnepf expects a big part of Queen Creek's future will be in eco- and agritourism.

"This is one of the last remaining areas in the Valley with an agricultural history that is still vibrant and strong," he said.

Although the unusually cold temperatures that swept across Arizona in early February damaged some of his orchards, Schnepf added:

"The peaches look great this year. Despite the freeze, Mother Nature has been good to us."

Legacy Trails at Lucia

What: Grand opening of Maracay Homes' new community.
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday.
Where: 19309 E. Camacho Road, Queen Creek.
Food and prizes: Guests receive a free peach pie from Schnepf Farms and can register for the following prizes:
• $250 gift certificate to Schnepf Farms Country Store and Bakery.
• $200 Philosophy Peaches and Cream Body and Bath Set.
• $150 gift card to the Queen Creek Olive Mill and Gourmet Marketplace.

by John Stanley The Arizona Republic Apr. 29, 2011 10:01 AM

New Queen Creek homes come with peach-tree lease offer

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