Campus Farm Neighborhood Profile

Campus Farm Neighborhood by CJ Boyd 

Campus Farm neighborhood leaves little mystery about its namesake. The University of Arizona purchased the 80-acre farm in 1909 from Jesus Garcia. This purchase was aided by the 1862 Morrill Act, in which Congress made tens of thousands of acres of federal lands available to public colleges that focused on agriculture and mechanical arts. While much of the area that now makes up the northern part of the city was ranch land in the early 1900s, Campus Farm stands out as the part of Ward 3 that has probably changed the least in the last century.

It is worth noting that the Campus Agricultural Center is not synonymous with Campus Farm Neighborhood, though people sometimes erroneously use them interchangeably. The Campus Agriculture Center is in fact much more than a farm, and houses educational programs related to agriculture. Campus Farm, on the other hand, is the correct name for the neighborhood in which the Center is situated.

Horses grazing at the Campus Agricultural Center in front of the Catalina Mountains

That neighborhood runs from Prince Road to the Rillito River, and from First Avenue to Campbell Avenue, as well as a small piece of land east of Campbell, between Roger and the Rillito River.


Most of the homes in Campus Farm are from right after World War II. Throughout the 1950s, horse properties and agricultural farms began to be surrounded by single-story brick homes. Campus Farm Neighborhood Association board members Bonnie Poulos and Jim Brooker recall that, “There was a drive-in movie theater on Prince Road and a community pool at Wetmore, both of which are gone now.”

The southern half of the neighborhood between Prince and Roger Road was annexed in 1959, and the northern portion between Roger and the Rillito River were made part of the City later in 1988 as part of the Vista del Norte annexation district. By that time, most of the farms and horse properties had gradually given way to houses.

The Rillito River looking north

These days there are a handful of farms still in operation along Prospect Lane as well as a couple of horse properties along the Rillito River. But nothing in the neighborhood compares to the agricultural land use still seen today by the Campus Agricultural Center (aka “the Campus Farm”), which sits on both sides of Campbell Avenue.

According to Poulos and Brooker, “When the neighborhood was polled in the mid-1980s as part of the Northside Area Plan planning process, the vast majority of residents stated that the Campus Farm was the single most important feature in the area. Even as recently as the early 2000s, many residents rank the Farm as our most important feature. We enjoy going to watch the horses, the sheep and the cows when they are brought to feed in the pastures. The unimpeded views of the Catalina Mountains when you look north across the farm from Roger Road are magnificent. We also benefit from the wildlife and birds that enjoy living in the Rillito and on the Farm and that come to visit our residential areas.”

One very special form of wildlife that visits the area are the Mexican free-tail bats that migrate from Mexico to Tucson every April and head south again in October. These bats are known to congregate under the Campbell Street Bridge, on the edge of the Rillito River. They have a wingspan of about 10 inches and only weigh about 13 grams, with a body the size of a human thumb. June to August has the highest concentration of the creatures, when Tucsonans and tourists can see them take flight at dusk in a massive, magical display.

Under the Campbell Avenue bridge, where Mexican free tail bats roost during the summer

Besides the fact that the neighborhood’s central feature is an educational institution, there is also Rio Vista Elementary School on Limberlost Drive. Satori School is just across First Avenue in the Limberlost Neighborhood, as well as Holaway School, which is just south of Prince in the Richland Heights West Neighborhood. As far as churches, Monte Vista Christian Church is located at the corner of Roger Road and Fremont Ave, and Desert View Church of God is just south of Prince Road on Vine Ave.

A mosaic near the river path just East of Campbell Avenue

Asked what she loves about living in the neighborhood, Bonnie Poulos said, “Living in the Campus Farm neighborhood means being near the bike path to the university, the linear park path along the Rillito, and access to 2 bus routes (#6 and #15). We are fortunate to have grocery stores at almost every major node in the neighborhood, and one of the best French bakeries in Tucson. There is access to health care, elementary schools, diverse housing opportunities, walking paths, shopping and alternative modes of travel. Yet we mostly feel like we are still in a semi-rural part of the city, blessed with incredible views of the Catalina Mountains and a historical landmark (the Farm) that provides us with cultural and educational assets that benefit the entire community of Tucson.”