Friday, June 15, 2012

High Country Hospitality Abounds at Prescott Farmers Market

Two days into a long Memorial Day weekend I decided that it would be a good time to get out of the city and review another Farmer’s Market.  After thinking about it for  bit I figured that Prescott Farmers’ Market would be an ideal candidate.  I could drive up there in about an hour and a half, review the market, have some lunch, hike Thumb Butte, and take a nice, leisurely drive back to the valley.
I made it up to Prescott in about an hour and forty-five minutes after battling the Holiday traffic.  Thanks to GPS, I was able to find my way to Yavapai College located at 1100 E. Sheldon St.  I immediately spotted colorful sign announcing that The Farmers’ Market was here today.

This Sign Marks The Entrance to Prescott Farmer's Market Located at
Yavapai College 1100 E. Sheldon Street in Prescott AZ.

The first thing I noticed was the absence of the white tents commonly found at many of the markets I have been to. I parked my car, grabbed my notepad, and stepped out into a cold windy day which quickly explained the absence of the tents.  They would have blown away like Dorothy’s house and ended up in the Land of Oz.

The Bumper Sticker says it all!  Please support our small farms and BUY LOCAL!

I made by way to the information table and told the staff about my blog, website and mission.  I have to say that the warm greeting I received made me forget about the icy wind that was bending the treetops.  Market Manager Erin Lingo and her staff went out of their way to answer my questions. They are very passionate about the market and made me feel like an old friend.

Market Manager Erin Lingo (Second from the left) and her staff really made me
 feel like an old friend. Thanks guys for taking time out of your busy day
 to answer my questions! 

Prescott Farmers Market opened in 1997 in downtown Prescott with about 20 vendors. It was moved to its current location in 2004 and currently has about 40-50 vendors.  In 2007 The Prescott Farmers’ Market opened a Prescott Valley Farmers’ Market and took over as managers for the Chino Valley Farmer’s Market so we can find the same great vendors three days a week.

The chilly wind prevented the tents from going up but it did little to keep the
warmly dressed market patrons away.  This is a fairly large farmers
market but not to worry, there's plenty of parking

In spite of the weather causing a lower than usual vendor turnout, and my late arrival, I was able to visit with a couple of the vendors and was treated with the same down-home hospitality as the management staff. I spoke with Jennifer from Molly’s Tamales and learned that they have a store in Glendale.  Upon further investigation I learned that Molly’s has been making tamales for many years and they currently have over 18 different Tamales ranging from traditional to gourmet.  Molly’s has a wonderful website that really highlights their offerings.  According to Jennifer, Molly’s is mainly for takeout but they do have a few tables available for those who prefer to eat there. 

Jennifer from Molly's Tamales, Glendale AZ

I also had a great visit with Donna from Chino Valley Farms.  She spent some time with me talking about some of the challenges of raising vegetables in the high altitude environment surrounding Prescott. I spotted a variety that were an unusual dark green color.  Donna told me they were called black cherry tomatoes and she allowed me to sample one.  I have to say that the taste reminded me of the great tasting tomatoes my grandmother used to raise back on the farm in Minnesota. I bought a small container of them and enjoyed eating them right out of the box.

Donna from Chino Valley Farms shows off their very tasty  Black Cherry

A closer look at black cherry tomatoes

The most unusual product I saw at the market was Ray’z Bread and Butter Onions.  I Had to have them and I have to say they are great either raw or as a garnish on a hamburger or hotdog.  Yummy!!! I did a little more research and I learned that after being wiped out by Hurricane Katrina, Ray Stephens and his partner, Julie La Magna, began the Urban Survival food processing company in Payson Arizona.  As the name implies, their company is geared towards survival and the teach classes on food preservation at their facility. They have a MUST SEE WEBSITE with a a very unique online store where you can buy your own jar of Bread and Butter onions and dozens of other canned goods.

Ray'z Not Quite Famous Pickles and Canned Foods.  The Bread and Butter Onions
 are front and center.

I definitely will be visiting the Prescott Farmer’s Market again this summer.  I really feel that with the weather and my tardiness, I missed the opportunity to talk with many fantastic vendors.  I think next time I will come on a Friday, spend the night,  and make an early appearance at the market.  With so many ranches and small farms in the area, I am sure to uncover many more amazing products.  I look forward to coming back again and enjoying the cool mountain air, the warm hospitality, and the many wonderful vendors.  Until the next time, best wishes to all the Folks at PFM! 

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