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

13 April 2021

Tomorrow is the day for the Farmers’ Market, opens at 10AM and closes at 2PM. Don’t forget, next week is the Earth Day event and I just heard that BASA will bring mesquite flour (for sale) and mesquite cookies (for a treat) along with sun ovens. Sierra Vista Community Gardens will have demonstrations on how to make seed starter pots from newspaper.

Strolling around the Farmers’ Market this past Thursday, I noticed that we had a few more regular artisan and craft vendors returning, as well as a few new artisan and craft vendors and a guest vendor. I’ll get to the guest in a minute, but first I’d like to welcome back the returning regulars as well as the new vendors to our mix. There was even a little entertainment provided by Wilee Delarosa, bringing his musical talents.

A new vendor with us is Patty’s Painted Horse Creations. She brought a great selection of her hand made jewelry and other crafts to the market. Gourds Rock My Soul was another first-time vendor bringing a selection of painted gourds and rocks in all different sizes. Africa Unite was also there with a large selection of drums and other crafts. Lucida Leather Jewelry brought an assortment of leather crafted items. Promise Farm LLC & Ash’s Amber, brings chicken eggs from the farm along with a great selection of crafted jewelry. Nature’s Premium Skin Care brought her Aloe Vera Miracle Cream.

As for the guest vendor: The Army! Well more specifically the US Army Recruiting Command, paid us a visit and set up a booth in our midst. An element out of Fort Knox, Kentucky even brought an awesome vehicle with them. It was actually a monster truck decked out with images of my favorite elements, Rangers, on one side and recruiters on the other.

I talked with the team leader about his mission to travel the country and help local recruiters find that new soldier for the Army. He was in the area this week and stopped by with a few of the local recruiters. He said he would be going to Douglas High School for a day and then eventually moving on to Oklahoma.

Another vendor that is relatively new is the Triple J&R MicroFarm and I’m glad you asked why I came to be a vendor here at the Farmers’ Market. Well, the answer to that can be found in one word, retirement.

Retirement is one of those hazy words I like to define as, “What do you do with your life when you can’t work or don’t want to work the day-to-day grind anymore?”

It seemed easy starting out in life looking for a job. I wanted a job that would make me enough money to have a retirement when I no longer worked. Not something just to get by on, but something that offered a good retirement that would allow me to live without having to go back to work. So, after 35 years, a 20-year stint in the Army and then 15 more years as an Army contactor, hunting for terrorists, I came to a decision point. My contractor job was coming to an end and I had to decide whether to find a new one or retire.

I chose retirement. Now I could just sit back and enjoy life, or so I thought. After “enjoying” life for about three months or so, I came to another decision point. How do I get out of this boring enjoyment? I hadn’t sat around doing nothing before in my whole life, so I needed something to keep me busy, like a job, but not like a job either.

With a brown thumb for gardening, of course, I settled on growing produce. Not the ones that take forever to get results, brown thumb and all; I started growing microgreens. I figured I had a better chance for success since it only takes a few weeks for results. Not enough time for me to mess it up. Then I had an epiphany. Why not get my brother’s kids involved in this project as well. I could kill two birds with one stone. Spend time with the kids and do something worthwhile at the same time. They thought it was great.

So, the Triple J&R MicroFarm was born as a project for the kids to learn about life in the big world, while at the same time earn a little extra spending money. It was a learning experience for all of us. We decided to try selling our product at the Farmers’ Market here in Sierra Vista. Since that day we have been here at the market for about six months now.

Now I must tell you that the Triple J&R MicroFarm belongs to the kids. The three “Js” in the name. Jandee, Joleen, and Joey. Jandee, by nature of her age, is considered to be the boss. Her assistant is Joleen and they call Joey the CIT, cotyledon in training. But he really is the third boss in the chain. Me, well I’m just the unpaid help.

They say, their mission is to educate the people on what microgreens and sprouts are while at the same time producing a healthful and nutritious produce. The microgreens and sprouts are grown hydroponically using pH balanced water with only an additional nutrient for good plant growth.

Part of the project for the kids is to help educate the masses on the difference between sprouts and microgreens and the nutritional value of microgreens and sprouts over their more mature counterparts. Microgreens and sprouts are not the same thing, but only different stages in growth, despite a popular misconception.

All plants go through the same growth process. They start out as a seed. When the seed germinates (sprouts) the plant is a sprout for the first seven days or so. You wouldn’t normally be able to see most of this phase in a plant as it is under ground, but since we grow them in water, we can watch the process happen. As it pushes through the ground, you begin to see the stem form along with the immature cotyledon leaves.

Around the seventh day when it starts to grow a longer stem and the cotyledon leaves begin to grow out more, the sprout begins the microgreen phase of life. This phase can last usually from seven to 20 or more days depending on the plant. Once the first true leaves begin to grow from the stem, it is the last time to harvest them as microgreens. From this point on they become baby plants and then mature full grown plants.

Even though all plants go through the same growth process, not all plants can be eaten as either sprouts or microgreens. The list of sprouts that can be eaten is quite small in comparison to what can be eaten as a microgreen. A good rule of thumb for microgreens is, if the whole plant can be eaten, such as lettuce, cabbage, kale, carrot, onion, etc. then it can probably be eaten as a microgreen.

Looking for some fresh produce that can be up to 40% more nutritional than mature plants, then please stop by the booth, say hi to the kids, and check out their selection of goodies. The varieties will vary from week to week, but if you have a favorite just mention it to them as a special order and they will make a batch and bring it to the Market. Give them a POC (point of contact) and they will let you know which market date it will be ready and then you can come by and check it out. Along with fresh microgreens and sprouts they have Microsalt (dehydrated microgreens and sprouts with pink Himalayan salt.) They also carry kits and seeds for those more intrepid. Visit our website at arizonaremountstation.net.

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

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 this coming week’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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