Do Rich Ranchers and Famous Farmers Make Good Neighbors?

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Almost as long as there have been Americans, the wealthiest and most prestigious among us have sought to ensure their legacy through the purchase and preservation of land.  John D. Rockefeller purchased a tract of land that later became part of Grand Teton National ParkTheodore Roosevelt purchased a ranch in North Dakota in 1883 that became a national park bearing his name.  Modern day rich and famous folk are no different.  Over the last twenty years, one of the most sought after real estate purchases for celebrities from all walks of life has been a ranch or farm with a lot of land and the safety of solitude.

From movie stars to moguls, from sports stars to singing sensations, today’s rich and famous seek the solace and sanity of a simpler life found by settling on a farm or ranch in Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and our own Arizona.  While many don’t take a daily interest in working the land or running the ranch, these purchases are more than just an investment opportunity.  Trading Rodeo Drive for rolling plains offers a break from the pace and paparazzi of their primary homes in places like LA and New York.

Harrison Ford has lived on his ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for more than two decades.  He sought out the 800 acre ranch to ensure his family has a sense of simplicity and normalcy despite his stardom.  Interested in more than the scenery and solitude, he is known for being an active participant in the running of the ranch and has dedicated half the acreage of his ranch to a nature preserve.

Ted Turner, who until this year was the largest individual land owner in the U.S, owns more than 2 million acres in six states.  All the Turner ranches are run as working businesses and seek to show that it is possible to partner economic viability with ecological sustainability.  In addition to land conservation and sustainable practices, the Turner ranches have over 50,000 head of bison and the proceeds from ranch operations are used to support environmental causes.

Other stars like Lance Armstrong, David Letterman, Julia Roberts, and Miranda Lambert have  farms and ranches sprinkled across the mid- and southwest.

Here in Arizona, we can boast about our own crop of celebrity farmers and ranchers.

John Wayne bought the Milky Way Ranch and 930 acres of the Colter’s Cross Bar Ranch in 1964 to create the 26 Bar Hereford Ranch.   The ranch, which is now owned by the Hopi Indian Tribe, has been used to raise cattle ever since.

Sir Paul McCartney owns a 700+ acre ranch just outside of Tucson where he lived with his wife Linda, who loved Arizona, until her death in 1998.  The ranch remains a family sanctuary for the McCartney family today.

Shea Hillenbrand, a former Arizona Diamondback and Arizona native, established Marley Farms with his wife Jessica in 2007.  The 25-acre farm is located in Gilbert, Arizona and features an equine center, horse boarding, feed store, and petting zoo.


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