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Meet just a handful of some of the most interesting entreprenuers in our midst who help make Santa Cruz County a unique community!


Profiles, 2014: Special supplement to the Nogales International /Weekly Bulletin

Finding work comes easy for

Paula Beemer Photo/Kathleen Vandervoet

Above: Paula Beemer leads a Spanish class for intermediate students. Photo courtesy of Matt Beemer

Left: Beemer in the field with her camera.

During her college years, she said, “I was always trying to figure out things I could sell” and she learned she could sell clothing. “I lived in the south of Chile Paula Beemer has identified work that she finds fun, so I would go to Santiago to the area where clothes challenging and rewarding. She sets her own schedules were imported. I would buy whatever was fashionable and take them to the south and sell them.” and still has time for family. In high school, she said, “I would go to the superShe’s especially enamored of photography and usmarket and collect advertising fliers and I would go to ing computer software to enhance those photos. “I school and sell them for one Chilean peso.” Teens apjust love the idea of exploring new software, and that combined with photography and knowing I can create preciated having the access to the fliers, she explained. She also raised and sold hamsters but gave that up, she beautiful things and give people good memories with said with a hearty laugh, “when reproduction got out photos” is what energizes her, she said. of hand.” Her home-based photography business is Beemer Paula and Matt moved to Tubac to assist his mother Studios. She’s also a graphic designer, a photojournaland stepfather in a construction business, which he ist, a language teacher and handles bookkeeping for then took over and named Beemer Construction. Afher husband’s construction firm. ter 12 years in Tubac, the family left on an adventure A Tubac resident since 1998, she began teaching during 2010. For a year, they lived on their 38-foot private and group Spanish classes in Tubac in 2011. Morgan sloop and sailed south from San Diego to Paula, the former Paula Pinto-Agüero Corominas, Panama and back again. grew up in Chile and she and her husband, Matt During the trip, she wrote a blog her friends Beemer, met there in 1992 in the coastal city of enjoyed reading, and she captured stunning photos Valdivia. of life on the ocean. Two articles and photos about After completing a university degree in Chile in the journey were published in the Tubac Villager, a business, she said she expected to work full time in the monthly newspaper. That kick-started her work as a corporate world. That didn’t happen in part because photo journalist and she’s been a regular contributor she wanted to raise her two daughters, Sami, 11, and to the newspaper ever since, interviewing and writing Trini, 8. about artists and businesses. Paula has been an entrepreneur most of her life. Creating ads and websites is another of her selfPaula and Matt started and ran their own silkscreen taught skills. She enthusiastically learns new programs business in Chile while she was in college and sold and her talents lead to impressive results. Alicia Marit when she was 26 and ready to move to the United tin of La Roca Restaurant and Wilson Produce Co., States. “We did T-shirts for the university, we did said, “I have really enjoyed working with Paula for the promotional products and we did tourism (items),” she last few years. She has a great ability to listen and feel said. a vision and then put it into motion through design

By Kathleen Vandervoet

and expression. We recently launched our new website that she designed and we have had a huge response.” Beemer said that a few years ago, an acquaintance told her there was interest among some Tubac residents in learning Spanish. Even though her degree wasn’t in education, her students view her as a naturalborn teacher. “Thursday morning with Paula is one of the highlights of my week. Paula’s style of teaching is comfortable and fun. She puts everyone at ease while drawing out their desire to learn,” said student Debby Vis. She teaches group lessons on Thursdays for beginners and intermediates and designs the program to meet the level of the students. Contact her for information at (520) 398-2841. Nowadays, Beemer admits she feels compelled to accomplish a lot. “I still feel I don’t do enough, but I don’t know how I could do more” each day. “I’m still searching for that balance of making money and feeling fulfilled professionally and emotionally.” Living in a large city would broaden her work options, but that doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. “I feel I’ve invested so much time in Tubac and Tubac is growing and it has so much potential. It’s such a charming town and I see opportunities for me.” Her ideal full-time job will have to wait a few more years. “I would love to do travel photo journalism,” she said, noting that she’s anxious to visit countries in Asia. This summer she plans to spend time in Chile with her father, sister and two brothers, and wants to visit Torres del Paine, a national park in southern Chilean Patagonia, which will certainly yield a breathtaking batch of nature photos.

Profiles, 2014: Special supplement to the Nogales International /Weekly Bulletin


(Photo Credit: CareyHope via iStock)

MARCH: Women’s Month

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN Violence against women is still a silent epidemic! Avoid it • Prevent it • Ask for Help • Get Informed

You HaveThe Power


Profiles, 2014: Special supplement to the Nogales International /Weekly Bulletin

Cecilia San Miguel Patagonian continues to reinvent herself, follow her providence money for the sake of making money.” In other words, love and passion. And while San Miguel had both of those—and now a name—she still From a humble upbringing in Quito, needed a baker, or at least some recipes Ecuador, one Patagonia resident is leading a much-traveled and unpredict- or knowhow—which came in the form of her son, who had experience in pizza able life. And if you’d ask Cecilia San parlors in Oregon. Miguel—owner of Velvet Elvis Pizza This—along with a suitcase—transCompany in Santa Cruz County’s noformed the bakery to what it is today. stoplight town—about it, she wouldn’t The suitcase came from a man named have it any other way. Forest. San Miguel can’t recall his last That’s because her travels and paths name, but says he was the uncle of the in life have brought her more spiritual riches and perspective than she’d prob- gardener at the Tree of Life rejuvenaably ever imagined—and that’s why she’s tion center in Patagonia. Forest enters the landscape by informing San Miguel so eager to share her culinary gift with that he specializes in opening restauothers. rants; “all he needs is a small salary and San Miguel lives through and thrives a place to live,” she explains, adding in that spirit every day, whether she’s that she informed him of her recipe cooking at home, at her popular resdilemma. Forest turns to her and says, taurant—where she was to hold classes “Don’t worry about it. The recipes are earlier this month—or someday at the La Mision de San Miguel Cultural Cen- in my suitcase.” A more-than-puzzled look comes to ter. It’s one of Patagonia’s most classic San Miguel’s face but, in the end, Forhistoric buildings that in the 1930s was est meant what he said—literally. You a house of ill-repute, which she hopes see, he was the grandson of a Brooklyn, one day to turn into a wine-and-foodN.Y., baker and bagel vendor, whose tasting operation. All this despite what others might call shop sat next to the popular Eli’s Pizza Parlor, where they made authentic old constant obstacles—mostly in the form world pizza dough and sauce. of multiple business partners falling to The rest, as they say, is history. the wayside—which San Miguel simply “Patagonia is sorta the mystical, magiviews as providence taking its course. cal place with those angels that show That providence began to unfold for up in your life,” San Miguel said as her when she was 13 and moved with she peers out of her restaurant winher parents from Quito to Chicago. From there, the now 63-year-old moved dow, bright February sunlight dusting her face. “I don’t think it’s exclusive to to San Diego at age 28, and sat behind Patagonia, but it just seems that way a desk as a paralegal immigration law because it’s so little that you notice it specialist. more often.” Then fate stepped in again when The Velvet Elvis has been noticed and she opened an art gallery in Oregon, featured in national and international where she moved at age 38 and spent travel publications, as well as on TV, in nine years. When her second of three Phoenix magazine and major newspahusbands passed, though, San Miguel’s pers such as USA Today. preordained spirit was on the move to Still she remains humble and rooted the 800-person town in northeast SCC, where she brush-stroked her latest mas- in her roots—which began by learning to cook rice at first, from Carmelita, an terpiece, the Velvet Elvis. old Ecuadorian woman in her Chicago “I keep reinventing myself,” she said with a sparkle in her deep, traveled eyes. apartment building. She did so in order to help her mother after long days of “I morph into some other butterfly.” work. The same was once said about the San Miguel then went on to learn Velvet Elvis, which was first intended to simple soup preparation and entrees be a bakery—although San Miguel had from her grandmother, so “my love for no bakery experience. When business cooking grew out of a sense of responsipartners came and went one by one, bility and what it means for us to live in though, the caterpillar continued to the bosom of harmony and participatgrow inside the cocoon. ing,” she says. “Now, children are okay She needed a baker … … and then with a bag of Cheetos in front of the got one in Eric Baker, who was no TV, but for me it was different. I felt I dough-rolling expert at all, but “an engineer from Los Angeles, who wanted could help and be apart of it. “It was just the most precious time to get away from that,” San Miguel of being in the kitchen with my grandexplained, adding that her new partner mother,” she added. suggested to name the bakery Elvis Spreading that inherent grandmother Gonzalez, because “everyone knows to everyone else in her latest cooking the name Elvis and it’s so close to the classes, though, wasn’t just the goal for border.” March. It’s the goal “for the rest of my Upon hearing the idea, an old friend of San Miguel’s from San Diego chuck- life,” she says. “Cooking or food is the most intimate thing you can share with led and said she would go to Tijuana another human being. You just created and get her an iconic painting of Elvis something that goes inside a real body. on velvet. An excited San Miguel went back to Baker, saying, ‘Shirley’s going to The intimacy goes beyond the surface of the body. It goes inside the body— send us a velvet Elvis!’ and when you impart that intimacy, you “And that’s how the name came infuse that intimacy with love and care about,” she explained “Nothing really and attention; and respect and integrity. speaks more clearly and eloquently All those things are in the food.” about the relationship of the United She goes on: “People come in the States and Mexico than The King and restaurant, they look around and they velvet.” say, ‘Yeah, lovely, nice arrangement, Two weeks later, though, Baker was beautiful tables. But they really cannot the fifth partner to fall by the wayside pinpoint what it is that they’re savorbecause “He was thinking paper plates ing. They’re savoring my love. They’re and pitchers of beer; sawdust on the savoring my spirit. They’re savoring my floor and peanuts—and I’m thinking different; complete extremes, and I was commitment and my dedication.” With that type of commitment and more idealistic,” San Miguel says. “If dedication, it’s no wonder San Miguel I’m going to put all of me into someis on another mission: the La Mision de thing, it’s gotta be worth something more; something that’s going to make a San Miguel Cultural Center. Like the rocky roads the Velvet Elvis difference in the world; not just making

Photos/William Wilczewski

Like the colorful vibrant mural that sits behind her, there is a lot of color and vibrancy to find in Patagonia entrepreneur Cecilia San Miguel’s spirit.

By William Wilczewski

Entrepreneur Cecilia San Miguel explains her vision outside of the La Mision de San Miguel Cultural Center—one of Patagonia’s most classic buildings, which was once a house of illrepute in the 1930s called the Big Steer Saloon. She hopes one day to turn it into a wineand-food-tasting operation.

A view from inside looking out of Cecilia San Miguel’s now dormant La Mision de San Miguel Cultural Center.

began on, though, San Miguel recently lost a business partner for her new venture, “so as fate would have it, La Mision is back to sleeping mode,” she says. “Our great plans did not come to be. All my efforts flopped.” The journey, though, is far from derailed for San Miguel, who appears destined to change yet another caterpillar into butterfly with her nostalgic love for the brick and mortar that makes up the spirit of her now-hidden treasure. “All the vices were beautifully bouquet under one roof here,” she says of what was once called the Big Steer Saloon. “I want to change its face … and turn the whore into a respectable lady … …

but the whore doesn’t want to do it,” she added before bursting into almostuncontrollable laughter. It’s that type of free spiritedness and fearlessness, though, that makes San Miguel the successful entrepreneur she is, because—like all great innovators— she doesn’t see obstacles, only eventual opportunity. And whether it’s Quito, Chicago, San Diego, Oregon or a no-stoplight slice of heaven known as Patagonia, Cecilia San Miguel will continue to serve up much more than just mere slices of pizza. After all, her goal, she says, is “not to make the special of the day, but to make something special—every day!” La Mision accomplished!

Profiles, 2014: Special supplement to the Nogales International /Weekly Bulletin

Rex Dalton Passion for chuck wagon cooking leads to a weekend career By Betty Barr When Rex Dalton describes his love of chuck-wagon cooking, it’s easy to see why he and his crew, EZ Cattle Company & Cow Camp Café, won the Charles Goodnight Award at a cook-off during the Arizona National Livestock Show in Phoenix last December. The congeniality award recognizes interaction between the cooks and the public, something that comes as second nature to Dalton, his son Grant and buddy Ron Parsons. Visitors to their wagon are not only treated to delicious campfire cooking, they also receive a virtual history lesson on the origins of this traditional style of open-range cooking, started by Goodnight, a Texas rancher who designed the first mobile kitchen during the big cattle drives in the late 1800s. Dalton’s group dresses in traditional costumes, displays historic pictures, and is the source of endless information about the gear on display in their wagon. As Rex explained, “People come by, ask a few questions and pretty soon we get a great conversation going.” Dalton comes by his love of history naturally. Born in Superior, he’s the descendant of Arizona pioneers on both sides of his family. The EZ brand that he uses belonged to his maternal grandparents who were miners and also ran a little cattle ranch. His great grandmother on his father’s side was a mail-order bride, born in Warsaw, Poland. When she arrived in Texas, she discovered her new husband had 12 children and was basically looking for a maid. She became preg-

nant, hopped a train with her last $15, and got off in Bisbee when her money ran out. The baby girl born there was to become Rex’s grandmother. Dalton’s family ran a cement company in Globe, and Rex says that his lifelong employment has been in cattle or cement – he currently works for CEMEX in Sierra Vista and does day work for a cattle ranch outside Patagonia. But his true love is chuck wagon cooking, which he has parlayed into a weekend catering business. About 10 years ago he took his family to the Festival of the West in Scottsdale where he saw chuck wagons on display. His wife Vonda saw his eyes light up and said, “I’m doomed, you’re going to buy one.” Costs range from $7,000-$20,000. It took a long time to save up, but two years ago he finally got a wagon of his own. Meanwhile, he and Vonda learned the tricks of the trade by helping out at contests on a chuck wagon owned by the Rocking RR in Phoenix. They entered their first contest at the Rancher’s Day event in Sonoita three years ago. “We borrowed Chuck Stockton’s wagon and got second place in beans.” After that there was no stopping them. They now try to compete in at least six cook-offs a year and also cater parties, weddings and special events. Contestants in the cook-offs receive about $250 to participate, plus cash prizes that are awarded in each category: meat, beans, potatoes, bread and desserts. But for Rex, it’s not the money, “To me it’s a history thing. At the wagon contest on the first day, they judge how you dress, how your camp is set up, authenticity - everything has to be old. I spent probably ten years looking for things for the wagon.” The


Chuck box requirements for cookoff contests •Chuck box lid with metal covering •Coffee grinder, mounted and working •Coffee beans of the period •Dutch ovens, metal ware, clock, meat saw •Coffee pot, whiskey, serving utensils, metal containers •Burlap bags and wooden boxes second day, they cook for the public. That’s when the health department rules kick in. All the old things get stored in the chuck boxes. Rex said, “We have to pass the food inspection. We lay down a floor, have washing stations, and water has to stay at a certain temperature.” At one contest, Grant Dalton prepared green chili potatoes that they hoped would win. Three judges rate the dishes on a score of 1-20. When they received their scores, they got an 18, a 17, and then the third judge gave them a 3. He felt it was too spicy. Hoping to avoid a repeat, Rex told his crew, “When we cut up the chilis, you have to taste each one.” Parson’s wife, Libby, dicing and tasting, said, “I can’t feel my mouth.” The result - a big pile of really hot chili rejects. Last fall they catered a weekend at the San Rafael Ranch for group that had won an Arizona State Parks raffle. Breakfast menus ranged from Mexican chorizo scramble, to a blowout of Eggs Benedict on the final morning. The challenge was the hollandaise sauce. “We cheated a little on that by using a propane stove so we could control the heat,” Rex confessed with a laugh.

Photos courtesy of Rex Dalton

Above: Dalton’s signature cowboy beef simmers for seven hours. He starts with 40 pounds of meat, adds two cups of water, and halfway through adds a brine and his secret mixture of spices. Left: Ron Parsons and Rex Dalton team up on cooking chores at a catered event.


Octavio By Jonathan Clark When Marina Octavio and her husband moved to Rio Rico about two years ago from Kaua’i, Hawaii’s “Garden Island,” it was a big transition. “It was really hard coming from a close-knit island where you know everybody to a place where nobody knows you,” she said. “I was having a hard time getting out.” So she started going to the local farmer’s market, at first for socialization, but then as a vendor. Marina and her husband Zachary had operated a golf course snack shop back in Kaua’i, so it was a natural transition. Now teamed up with her daughter SeraFran (Sanoe, by her Hawaiian name), Marina sells homemade treats at her “Taste of the Islands” booth at markets in Green Valley, Nogales and Rio Rico. Some of the products she sells are familiar to local palates. But special ingredients give them a distinctive island character. Marina’s banana bread, for example, is made with apricots, a favorite fruit of her husband’s family back in Hawaii. And then there’s the bananas. “I like to taste the bananas in it,” she said. “Some recipes just call for two or three bananas, this recipe calls for 12 bananas.” Even the chocolate chip cookies have a Hawaiian twist. “Instead of using regular salt, we use salt that we make on the islands,” Ma-

rina said, explaining that Hawaiian salt is made by extracting the dried product from evaporated seawater. “It has a reddish color. We grind it fine and we use it in our products,” she said. Back on the island, salt extraction is a family tradition handed down from generation to generation, with the final product given away for free, she said. Sometimes, customers cry, “Oh, rosettes!” when they see one of the pastries on her table. But to Marina, they are Chinese pretzels. Scandinavian sugar cane bosses brought the cookie tradition to Hawaii, she said, where Chinese workers co-opted it. Two other popular treats in Hawaii – chi chi mochi and butter mochi – are unintentionally gluten free. But that’s made them a big hit at the booth after SeraFran added them to the menu. Both are made with rice flour (“mochi” is Japanese for rice), Marina explained. Chi chi mochi also includes coconut milk and is steamed, while butter mochi has eggs and butter, and is baked. “Oh, you should see the expression on their face when they taste one of them,” Marina said. “Because it’s so soft, they don’t expect it.” Another new addition, courtesy of SeraFran: fudge, made with macadamia nuts. Marina and SeraFran share Marina’s home kitchen in Rio Rico, where she has a baking and confection permit. On Monday, Mariana spends about eight hours preparing for the Wednesday

brings a ‘taste of the islands’ to Santa Cruz County farmer’s market in Green Valley. Then she spends another eight hours on Thursday getting ready for the Nogales Mercado on Friday, and the Rio Rico Marketplace on Saturday. In between, SeraFran cooks her fudge, mochis and pumpkin and banana rolls.

Flying the flag

It was Marina’s brother-in-law who led the family from Hawaii to Rio Rico. An avid traveler, he visited a number of places in Arizona before settling in Rio Rico “by chance.” Now, SeraFran, her husband and their four children have joined them. Another son, daughter and five grandchildren are back in Hawaii. “We’re hoping that the rest of the family will join us,” she said. Marina is sometimes confused for being a Spanish-speaker, especially with her married surname of Octavio. But her ancestry is Filipino and her husband’s is Portuguese. “The funniest thing is that in high school, we laughed, ‘Speak Spanish, what for? We won’t need it,’” she said. “Lo and behold, here I am in a place that speaks Spanish.” The eye-catching red, green and yellow flag that she hangs at her booth – Hawaii’s royal flag, known as Kanakanaoli – helps identify the geographic and cultural origins of the business, and also served as a beacon for another local resident with Hawaiian roots. The man, a security guard at Wal-

Photo/Kathleen Vandervoet

Marina Octavio had just a few items left for sale by mid-morning at the Rio Rico Marketplace on Oct. 5, 2013.

Mart, was passing by one day. “When he saw the colored flag, he reversed and came over to the booth and my son-inlaw and he started to talk,” Marina said. It turned out that he was from Oahu, Hawaii’s most populous island and home to the state capital, Honolulu. Soon, local residents may have the chance to experience even more Hawaiian culture, thanks to the Octavio family. “Maybe in the fall, my daughter will start teaching hula,” Marina said.


Profiles, 2014: Special supplement to the Nogales International /Weekly Bulletin

Photos/Marion Vendituoli

Megan Haller samples newly filtered white wine that is ready for bottling. Shannon Austin serves wine in the Hops and Vines Tasting Room in Sonoita

A tale of two sisters The sisters had been looking for a way to get into the wine industry since 2000. Haller was living in California; Austen was living in Washington, D.C. The first thing you notice when you enter the tasting room at Arizona Hops Their first idea was to develop a winebuying business, “Sort of a Tupperware and Vines in Sonoita is the décor of business for wine,” Austin said. funky, mismatched furniture and the Haller moved from California to the party atmosphere. But don’t be fooled. Sonoita area when her ex-husband, a This casual ambience is the result of an Border Patrol agent, was transferred to awful lot of hard work. Arizona. In 2007, as the youngest of her Sisters Shannon Austin and Megan three children started kindergarten, she Haller, who bought the land for the volunteered at the Sonoita Vineyards as vineyard just four years ago, serve Chee- a harvester. “I fell in love with it after tos and potato chips with their wine, one day,” she said. still display their hand painted, decidSonoita Vineyard hired her after one edly homemade looking sign that they week and she became the assistant winedashed off on a piece of plywood, and maker, and managed the tasting room. have shrewdly turned their signature Haller then went on to work for Kent shabby chic look into a powerful marCallaghan, Rancho Rossa and Lightning keting tool. Ridge Cellars, absorbing all aspects of

By Marion Vendituoli

the winemaking process. In 2010, Haller went to look at property for sale just outside of Sonoita that had potential to be vineyard. “She called me up and said, ‘Come out here. I’ve found the perfect place,’” Austin recounted. After seeing the property, Austin was sold on the idea of starting their own business. “Give me a year to make this happen,” she said to her sister, and began the complicated process of separating from her husband and moving herself and her three young children from the east coast to Sonoita. “It’s hard for women,” Austin said. “I think a lot of women could relate to that, because they are afraid to upend their kids’ lives, they are taking a risk to follow their dreams. A lot of women feel that it’s selfish to follow your dreams. Your family is part of the dream but they make a lot of sacrifices. I miss a lot of my kids’ soccer games. The tradeoff is they admit they admire us for what we’re doing – when they’re not mad at us.” The name of the vineyard reflects the sisters’ vision of a combined winery and brewery. What they had not counted on was the fact that this combination was, in fact, illegal in Arizona. “We didn’t know what we were getting into. Someone said ‘You’re so optimistic,’ but really, we were naïve. We didn’t realize how great the obstacles actually were,” Austin said. Last spring, with the help of volunteer lobbyist Mark Barnes and state Sen. Don Shooter, the law prohibiting a brewery and winery from co-existing was struck down. In introducing the legislation, Shooter told his colleagues, “This bill has something for everyone. This is a masterpiece. This bill has beer, has beautiful ladies, it has wine. This is a bill we can all unite on.” The women have applied for their brewery license and will be producing an IPA beer from their own hops as soon as they receive the license. They hope to have everything in place so that they can use this summer’s crop of hops. The beer will be brewed in the tasting room building at the winery. Part of the attraction of Hops and Vines is the monthly festivals that the women have put together. In February, to celebrate Valentine’s Day, they had shirtless Tucson firefighters serving the wine. Another big event, the Drag Races, celebrates their signature Drag Queen wine which is made with hops. “It’s wine dressed up as beer,” Haller explained. Their most popular event, according

to Austin, is their Bad Decisions festival, held in August. “What started out as a fun side note – more for ourselves than anyone else – has become our signature event,” she said. Featuring bacon, beer, wine, chocolate and cheese, the festival welcomes overnight campers. The first year they had 125 people show up. Last year 800 people came, more than double what they had expected. Haller, who handles the farming aspect of the business, explained that up until now all their grapes have been purchased from Santa Cruz County, including Willcox and New Mexico. They made and sold 1,500 cases of wine in 2013. The first vintage from their own grapes is now in the barrels and will be available in 2015. “People hesitate to spend $25 or more for a bottle of wine,” said Austin. “It’s important to recognize that it costs a lot more to make a bottle of wine in Arizona. In every winery in Sonoita, what you are tasting is the hands of one person’s work. The winemaker is working in the vineyard, bottling the wine and pouring in the tasting room.” The sisters have gotten a helping hand from veteran vintner Kent Callaghan. “We’re his charity project,” Haller said recently, as she and her sister filtered and bottled their wine at Callaghan Vineyards. They, in turn, have welcomed to their winery newcomer James Callahan who has just opened up Rune Vineyards in Sonoita. “We let him use our winery to make wine. Kent did that for us, we’re doing the same for him. We’re paying it forward.” The sisters don’t agree about everything. For example, Austin would like to update their logo and get rid of that plywood sign, while Haller insists on keeping it. “I won’t let her change it. I love that sign. It was the very first decision we made together. I like that it’s her hands. It’s like the core of what we are,” she explained. Describing the challenges in working with her sister, Austin said, “The best part and the worst part is unconditional love. There is a brutal honesty that goes along with unconditional love. We have a shared past and we’re the only people who will have a shared future.” “A big advantage to me is that we can disagree,” added Haller, “but I know that she will support me and we’ll get over every fight that we have. With a spouse or a friend or a business partner there’s always an out, but with my sister, there is no out. She can’t leave me.”

Profiles, 2014: Special supplement to the Nogales International /Weekly Bulletin

Joyce Owens


Creates a bountiful harvest with her Joyous Herbs business By Betty Barr

The garage at Joyce Owens’ home in Elgin is fully stocked with her products, from the drop-in freezer filled with jars of pesto, to numerous cases holding different kinds of vinegars, to baskets for harvesting herbs, and bags and tissues to package sales. “It’s kind like that automobile commercial where all good things started in a garage. The Wright Brothers, Apple Computers, the Cadillac. My business started right here with a freezer,” Joyce said with a laugh. Her business, Joyous Herbs, LLC, markets pestos, a perishable product which keeps indefinitely in the freezer or six months in the refrigerator, and infused vinegars and dried herbs, all created from her home grown produce. “I always gardened, even as a child,” she said. “My dad had gardens and I pulled the weeds.” When her crops became too plentiful for the family to consume, Joyce started selling freshly cut herbs at the Sonoita Farmers’ Market. Then a relative sent her a recipe for using mustard in tarragon vinegar. She became inspired and Joyous Herbs was born. Joyce worked in a plant nursery in California where she took classes in integrated pest management, and attended seminars on dry farming and water harvesting at the University of Arizona. Her resulting gardens are a true success story. She came home from the 2013 Santa Cruz County Fair with a total of 10 ribbons, including blues for her basil pesto and an herbal-infused vinegar, plus her Early Girl and cherry tomatoes, eggplant and yellow squash. Joyce gives the term “from the ground up” new meaning. She built her own raised planter beds, outlining them with railroad ties that her husband, Bob, hauled from Tucson, and attached large gutters at the edge of the roof to harvest rainwater in cisterns she installed with the help of Bob and their son. The harvested water is piped to the garden through a series of hoses and irrigation lines. Bob, a civil engineer specializing in hydraulics, designed the valves which can be turned on to water and/or spray selected plants. The valves are plugged with recycled wine corks acquired from her days of working at local Elgin wineries. She plants everything from tomatoes and spinach to herbs and decorative flowers, provides a habitat for lizards and predator insects such as praying mantis and walking sticks, and has the requisite pollinator garden for bees and butterflies. The Owenses also planted more than 100 trees they water from a 5,000-gallon solar water tank and built a shed where frost-sensitive plants overwinter. They are now salvaging materials for a greenhouse. Several years ago, Joyce converted part of her kitchen into a workshop by adding a 3-foot-square L-shaped counter, where she organizes her decorative jars and bottles and prepares her products using USDA guidelines. To make the process more fun, she positioned everything so she can boil her vinegars on the stove or grind up herbs on the counter while watching “Dancing With The Stars” on the large TV in the family room. “I try to follow the Tohono O’odham practice of dry farming, which means I don’t plant until we get the monsoons,” she explained. Her guideline for planting basil is to watch for the native mesquites to leaf out. “My non-native mesquites are in leaf already (early March) but I have to wait to put in the frost sensitive plants.” Preparing the product is a three- to four-day production. Day one she harvests and cleans the branches. She likes to harvest right after the monsoons are over, when the plants are clean. It takes one or two days to pluck all the leaves by hand and cover them with wet cotton towels and refrigerate them. They are now ready to be used in various combinations for her infused vinegars and pestos. She originally pounded the basil with a mortar and pestle, graduated to a large bowl and mallet and ended up buying a Cuisinart, which she uses “judiciously.” She doesn’t pulverize them because she likes her pestos to have a chunky consistency. The basic pesto recipe consists of basil, olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan. Joyce makes hers special by adding a second basil, such as lemon or African blue. The pesto can be diluted with an equal amount of olive oil when used in a recipe. She spreads the leftover basil branches and other herbs in large shallow baskets and stacks them on shelves in the laundry room. The leaves dry naturally under a skylight and the moisture from the dryer keeps them fresh. Joyous Herbs products can be found locally at Desert Legacy Galleries in Sonoita, and online at, a company started by Nogales native, Patricia Lopez. Owens also markets her goods at the Santa Cruz County Fair and other local festivals. Five-course dinner paired with wines from Sonoita Vineyards Sunday, April 27 Hannah’s Hill Vineyard & Winery Sunday, May 25 Reservations Only

Photos/Betty Barr

Joyce Owens offers this stainless steel pourer for home use, along with the traditional style cork, with each purchase of her infused vinegars.

Owens says that when she purchased a drop-in freezer and a refrigerator for her garage, her business really took off. She designed the logo, seen here on her sign, and made up business cards with the same motif.

This hose is attached to a cistern that collects rainwater for watering the plants in Owens’ garden.




3280 AZ Hwy 82, Sonoita, AZ 85627-1433


Fresh Baked

Bakery • Country Store • Gourmet Foods • Artisan Breads • Pastries • Oils and Vinegars Jams and Jellies • Candy • Fudge • Nuts • Handcrafted Gifts • Uniquely yours. 277 McKeown Ave, Patagonia, Arizona 85624 • (520) 394-2330


Bob Owens works near one of the cisterns used to harvest rainwater. It’s capped with double shade cloth, strapped in place. Son Haydn is constructing a metal lid which he will weld on top to replace the cloth. A heavy tomato tree, growing in one of the cement planters, has to be secured to rebar posts during high winds.


Profiles, 2014: Special supplement to the Nogales International /Weekly Bulletin

Photo/Betty Barr

Butterflies and bees are attracted to this beautiful butterfly bush in Joyce Owens’ garden.

NOGALES COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT Building a thriving community one business, one person at a time. Nogales Community Development Corporation is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a thriving community one business, one person at a time. We salute the many unique entrepreneurs in Santa Cruz County who through imagination, innovation and courage help us in our mission.


Housing Counseling Homebuyer Education and Pre-purchase Counseling Foreclosure Intervention/Loss Mitigation Counseling Financial Management Education/Individual Development Accounts Voluntary Income Tax Assistance/AARP Tax Aid


Small Business Planning and Training, including NxLevel® for Entrepreneurs and NxLevel® for Business Start-Ups Workshops including Customer Service, Intro to Logistics and Supply Chain, Intro to International Trade, Supervision, and others Small Business Loan Program

NOGALES COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION 124B N. Terrace Ave P.O. Box 421 Nogales, AZ 85621 Tel: (520) 397-9219 Fax: (520) 397-9217 email: Find us on Facebook: and Twitter: @NogalesCDC

Nogales Community Development programs are supported in part by:

Arizona Attorney General’s Office, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Arizona Community Foundation, Nogales U.S. Customs House Brokers Association, Gebler Trust, JPMorgan Chase Foundation, Wells Fargo Foundation on behalf Wells Fargo Home Mortgage


Profiles, 2014: Special supplement to the Nogales International /Weekly Bulletin

Manuel Noriega


Keeping busy after six decades on Grand Avenue

Photos/Curt Prendergast

Right: Manuel Noriega, 97, works behind the counter at El Triangulo, a shop he has owned for about 60 years in downtown Nogales. Above: El Triangulo has been a mainstay in the commercial district of downtown Nogales for about six decades. Top: Sundry hardware items hang inside the store.

at clubs, restaurants and weddings. After laying down the sax, Noriega, who never went through formal education but still learned to read and write, started working as a car mechanic and eventualWalking into the El Triangulo shop on Grand Avly took a job at the Guevavi Ranch. There, he herded enue is like slipping through a crack in time. Behind the narrow window of the shop, which occu- cattle and saw legendary actor John Wayne, who pies a mere sliver of real estate in the busy commercial visited with his rancher pal, the late Ralph Wingfield, nearly every summer. district of downtown Nogales, Manuel Noriega, 97, El Triangulo used to be a bustling business and his has spent decades fixing everything from washers and son Luis remembers stopping by the shop while he dryers to vacuum cleaners and refrigerators. was in high school in the late 1960s. Now, Noriega As he spoke on a recent afternoon, machine parts goes to the store because it’s his place to be. hung neatly on the wall behind the counter while “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s just to keep him boxes overflowed with belts, washers, nuts, bolts, and busy. It’s a hobby for him,” his son Luis said with a electrical cords pulled from appliances, as well as the good-natured chuckle. “He enjoys taking things apart bits and pieces of long-since obsolete machines. “I’ve been in this shop for about 60 years,” Noriega and putting them back together. Now he takes them apart and can’t quite put them back together.” said slowly, taking his time with the words as he Although customers are few and far between, Noriedescribed his days as a young man and munched on a ga is still a businessman through and through. When doughnut. this reporter told him his profile would appear in the Originally from Cananea, Sonora, Noriega moved newspaper, his eyes lit up and he asked: “Do you think to Nogales, Ariz., as a boy. His mother took him to it will bring in some customers?” live in California for a time, but they ended up back Not even a nasty fall a few weeks ago stopped him in Nogales, where his skill with a saxophone took him back and forth across the border to play with his band from trying to make his daily rounds. “He wants to go

By Curt Prendergast

Pioneer Nogales grocer Mario Villa and his grandson Oscar share quality time between their busy schedules.

everyday. Even the day after he fell, he wanted to go there,” Luis said. Despite the lack of customers, Noriega remains behind the counter at El Triangulo, watching telenovelas and game shows as he fiddles with machine parts. His longevity at the shop is due in part to a deal he made with his landlord about 40 years ago, Luis said. His landlord set up an arrangement where no subsequent landlords could raise Noriega’s rent, which remains about $100 a month. Since then, he has outlived landlords and outlasted other business owners on the block. During that time, he has built warm relationships with local business owners, Noriega said, describing a sweet despedida with the owners of the tattoo parlor down the block when they decided to close up shop recently. Most of Noriega’s family remains in Nogales, with one son moving away to Tucson, Luis said. Always good with his hands, Noriega built his home on Hudgins Street where he lives with Luis and Esther, 88, his wife of 63 years. Next door, one of his four daughters lives in a house he helped build.

From humble beginning at a store on Western Avenue, the Villa family has provided quality groceries to Nogales families for three generations, now with three locations in Nogales. 631 Mesa Verde Dr. Nogales, AZ 85621 • 520-281-9717 2011 N. Ocean Garden Dr. Nogales, AZ 85621 • 520-761-4981 39 N. Grand Ave. Nogales, AZ 85621 • 520-287-3434



Profiles, 2014: Special supplement to the Nogales International /Weekly Bulletin


Meet just a handful of some of the most interesting entreprenuers in our midst who help make Santa Cruz County a unique community!