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Another Day In the Life Of – The Sierra Vista Farmers’ Market

7 April 2021

Tomorrow is the day. Farmers’ Market opens at 10AM and closes at 2PM.

I have an update on the “Earth Day” event for April 22, 2021; there will be some special appearances on that day. Bring the kids as the Thunder Mountain Alpaca Ranch will bring some alpacas. Looking for strawberries, fig trees, flowers, tomatoes, black berries, and vegetable bedding plants, then you are in luck as Ruth Lefever will bring these extra plants to the event. Additionally, Borderlands Restoration will be handing out small pollinator plants and Pollinators Southwest Corridor will hand out seed packets. Oasis Water Harvesting is setting up and there will be music provided by Rick Rice. Sounds like fun and there may be more exciting things happening, so check back again for information.

When’s the last time you stopped and just spent time talking to an employee at your favorite grocery store? I’ll take a chance and say “Not very often, if at all.”

Why is that? Well, you might be tempted to say such things as “I was in a hurry, just an in and out”, or maybe, “I already knew what I wanted and where it was. There was no reason to talk to anyone.”

We often take for granted the vegetables, fruits, meats, and dairy products we buy. We don’t know where the food in the grocery store comes from and we, for sure, don’t know how it was grown. We have reduced the connection to our food down to nothing more than a quick stop in the check-out line. It’s as if we really don’t care about that sort of thing. We don’t even seem to be concerned about the safety of the food we buy.

When you come to the Farmers’ Market, your approach changes, doesn’t it? Have you ever thought about why that is? We have detached ourselves from the food we eat and farmers markets can reconnect us to our food system. We seem more interested in the food we are going to buy.

A farmers market creates a time in space where the farmers and vendors can sell fresh, local food while at the same time help educate the visitors about the food they eat. Farmers markets also bring an atmosphere where the vendors and their visitors can meet to socialize and exchange ideas around cooking, nutrition, and agriculture.

The meeting between you and your vendor is characterized by a handshake. Their hand, that planted and harvested the vegetable, or fed the chickens and cows, made the bread, picked the fruit, sewed the cloth, carved the wood, to your hand. It is also the hand that takes the money and offers you a handshake contract telling you that, “I stand behind my product because it is good, clean, safe and I eat it.”

Visitors will tend to ask questions that they wouldn’t ask at the grocery store. And even if they did ask… the stock boy wouldn’t know. Questions like, “Is this the season for my favorite vegetable? How can I prepare this broccoli so that the nutrients don’t get cooked out? Do you raise these chickens on your own farm? Or, Is this local range fed beef? You take an interest in the food you’re buying and want to know more about it. This is what the market is all about. Building relationships between yourself, your neighbors, and the products you are buying.

We are social animals, by nature, and need interaction with other people. Studies have shown that we thrive and are naturally happier when socially connected. Farmers’ markets provide this emotional health by creating a cheerful space where we can come together for laughter, fellowship, food, and fun.

Chef Bryant Terry, a James Beard Award-Winning chef, educator, and author, currently the Chef-in-Residence at the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco once said, “What makes the farmers’ market such a special place is that you’re actually creating community around food. Consumers purchase their food directly from the producers, and they build relationships with the people who provide them with their food.”

Distinguished author, journalist, and Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism said, “A farmers’ market is kind of like a public square, and there is a nice social energy. There was a study done a couple years ago that found that people have 10 times as many conversations at the farmers’ market than they do at the supermarket.”

I’d like to spotlight a local vendor at the Sierra Vista Farmers’ Market that can testify to the fact that the market is a great place to come together and just socialize.

I was talking to Nancy and Jim at the Copper Canyon Designs booth under the turquoise tent. They have been vendors at the Market for approximately three years now. They were newly retired and didn’t want to just sit around and do nothing. Jim, having a background in marketing and sales, exposed Nancy to trade shows. Trade shows provide a similar social environment as farmers’ markets. One thing led to another and they decided to follow one of Nancy’s passions, sewing. The next leap brought them to the market, in the Artisan and Craft category, making bowl and plate cozies along with shopping bag holders. Jim does the cutting and top stitching and then Nancy sews it all together. If you don’t see a fabric design or color you like just ask and they will custom make one for you. Keep in mind that they do special orders on all the crafts they produce. If you don’t see the right color or pattern, they will work with you to get what you want. She also does simple minor alterations if you ask.

The cozies allow you to hold a hot plate or bowl from the microwave while you eat. Kind of like a pot holder for a bowl or plate. They also accept special orders for items like placemats, table cloths, and table runners. Nancy also dabbles in some clothing items such as fleece ponchos and headbands, Infinity scarves, and soon to be, refashioned clothing like denim skirts with long skirt extensions. These can also be special ordered based on size or fabric choice.

Just prior to the market closing last year, for a couple of months due to the Covid situation, they had introduced Nancy’s delicious chocolate truffles. When the market reopened, restrictions allowed for only vendors that were selling food (produce, meats, fruits, baked goods and such) to return to the market. Luckily the truffles fit into what was allowed. Nancy and Jim decided to get more into the food action. Jim became a baker and that’s when they added Jim’s savory and sweet breads. Since then, they have added gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan breads.

They just love it here at the Market and they enjoy the strong relationships they have made with customers over the years. The customers come back time and again just for the social contact to talk without purchasing anything. If some of their customers didn’t show up just to chat, it would be concerning.

I strongly encourage you to stop by and visit with Nancy and Jim. Get yourself some delicious truffles or breads. Pick up a cozy and bag holder. Or just chat. You’ll find a good friend at Copper Canyon Designs. For more information about Copper Canyon Designs stop by their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/designsbycoppercanyon/

And as a reminder again, don’t forget to mark the calendar for April 22, our special Earth Day Celebration. You don’t want to miss it.

Remember, many of the market vendors accept WIC Farmers Markets & Senior Farmers Markets Vouchers in exchange for fresh fruits and vegetables. SNAP vouchers can be also used at some of the vendors booths. You can use your EBT card at the info booth for SNAP vouchers and Double UP tokens (unlimited amount right now).

We are looking forward to seeing you all at tomorrow’s Market. For more information on all our vendors and the products they will be bringing, please see this week’s Farmers’ Market newsletter at www.sierravistafarmersmarkets.com. Also, check out our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/sierravistafarmersmarket/.

Till next time,

Uncle Ralph

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