Junipine Resort is now a Certified Sustainable Business at the Conservationist/Bronze level
Sarah Estrada is a great example of how one person can make a difference. She was initially hired by Junipine Resort in Oak Creek Canyon as a landscaper. But she was determined to apply her knowledge of sustainability which she picked up at college. She’s made such headway with management in her two years at Junipine, they’ve recently hired someone to help her with forest debris clean-up so Estrada can place more focus on implementing sustainable landscape practices. She’s become Junipine’s first Sustainability Coordinator during this process.
Outside, Estrada has improved their irrigation system to ensure areas are not overwatered. She assessed the microclimates on the property and has been replacing plants with drought-tolerant natives that shouldn’t need watering. She composts 70% of landscaping waste and has put up hummingbird feeders and birdhouses throughout the property.
Being in the canyon comes with wildfire risks, so they follow FireWise practices by ensuring a 2-4 ft cleared zone around buildings and the perimeter of the property. Sprinklers are set up to spray around wooded areas during extreme fire threats to act as a second line of defense. Pine needles and other forest debris are regularly cleaned up to prevent fire on the resort grounds.
They’ve reused rock and flagstone in the landscaping on the property. Estrada uses non-toxic products for pest management to keep the wildlife safe. She prefers Repels-All by Bonide to keep critters away and uses a vinegar-soap mixture for weeds that can’t be pulled with hand tools.
Indoors, Junipine has a small recycling system for the office and lobby, and Estrada hopes to soon expand it to all the units (which are individually owned and rented out to guests through an association).
The kitchen has a lot of latitude in menu design which minimizes waste. Additionally, an onsite compost structure has been approved for the purpose of composting kitchen prep waste. The restaurant has also updated their menu to provide more vegetarian options.
The staff gets 50 percent off meals and they earn vacation after one year of employment. Both the housekeeping and maintenance staff enjoy freedom in organizing their workdays, and on breaks they are encouraged to use several outdoor relaxation spaces around the property. Management is also building teamwork. In 2019 they conducted a session to understand each coworker’s personality type. Estrada said, “It was fun and productive. People want to do it again!” See who else is certified.