Monday, July 9, 2012

Beat the Heat at The Flagstaff Community Market

I was fortunate enough to have spent the weekend of June 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in Flagstaff Arizona to participate in an event for an organization I belong to. I also made it a point to visit the Flagstaff Farmers Market aka  The Flagstaff Community Market while I was there. When the temperatures in the desert are hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk, Flagstaff at a cool 7,000 ft is a great place to escape to. It is also a great place to have a farmers market in the Arizona Summer.

The Flagstaff  Community Market operates at two locations. On Sunday mornings from late May through Mid-October the market operates at the Flagstaff City Hall Parking lot located at 211 W. Aspen Avenue from 8am-12pm. On Wednesdays from late June through early September the market is held at The St. Pius Church parking lot located at 2257 E. Cedar Ave. from 4pm-7pm.

I visited the City Hall location on Sunday, June 3rd, right before I made the long drive back to the broiling summer heat in the desert and I have to say I didn’t want to leave. The parking lot was full indicating a good-sized crowd; however, there was plenty of nicely shaded street-parking nearby. I was able to park about a block away and enjoy a nice short walk along a tree-lined street. The market setting itself reminded me of an old-fashioned town square.

Even if you only have one wheel, The Flagstaff Farmer's Market is worth the
                                          trip.



A Brightly Painted Trailer Marks The Entrance to the Flagstaff Community
Market.


I stopped first at the information booth and talked to Betty who was more than happy to answer my questions. Betty, who organized markets in California, really gave me a good insight into the Flagstaff Community Market and also as to what is happening with farmers’ markets in general. She even recommended a Market in Santa Fe New Mexico as a must visit market. I really don’t need much of an excuse to visit Santa Fe so it’s now on the list. Betty also made sure I was introduced to market manager Art Babbott who welcomed me like an old friend. Even though he was clearly busy he graciously took a few minutes to make sure I felt welcome and was well informed!


While I was talking to Art and Betty I saw a woman purchase some wooden tokens and this really caught my attention. Betty explained to me that these could be bought with a credit card or bankcard and used in place of cash at any of the vendors in the market. While I was informed that other markets used this method of payment too, it was the first time I have ever seen it used. This is a win win situation all the way around by allowing patrons to use their credit or bank cards and by saving the vendors the trouble and expense of having to process plastic.


Flagstaff Community Market uses wooden tokens which can be purchased
at the information booth and used in place of cash or credit cards at all of the
vendor's booths



After a warm and very informative welcome at the info booth, I began to stroll about the market. Immediately I noticed a very vibrant atmosphere that pulsed through the market. I think the cool mountain air has a way of energizing the soul and the beautiful mountain backdrop didn’t hurt either. There was just a friendliness here that reminded me of days gone by when people would gather at the local market to socialize and catch up on current events. The Flagstaff  Community Market made me feel at home even if home was 150 miles away.

Plenty of patrons eagerly shop at The Flagstaff Community Market. The energy
here has to be experienced to be understood.  This is a must visit market!

Speaking of home, I’m a Minnesota native who has an ear for his own and when I hear one of the vendors pronounce the letter O, I knew they had to be from somewhere in the upper Midwest. I was close, Jessica Fetzner and her partner Matt of Sweet Pine Soaps originally hail from Wisconsin but now call Flagstaff home. They have a large variety of handmade soaps which you can purchase at the Market in Flagstaff or through their website/blog. They also represent Tree of Life Teas which they sell at the market for friend Jacques du Preeze. I’m a sucker for good tea and ended up deciding, upon Jessica’s recommendation, Water which did not leave me disappointed. It is as soothing as the name implies. You can check out Tree of Life Teas at there website, Treeoflifeteas.


Wisconsin natives  Jessica and Matt Fetzner  have a great line of handmade
soaps, and they also handle a fantastic line of teas for friend Jacques du Preeze
of Tree of Life Teas.

After visiting with Jessica and Matt I strolled to the west end of the market and there I met Byrnie Florea, owner of Ridge View Farms near Paulden Arizona. Ridge View Farms specializes in raising healthy happy free range chickens without the use of hormones, antibiotics, or any unnatural methods. According to Ridge View’s logo, they are “Home of the Happy Chickens. How could they not be; they are spoiled by plenty of sunshine, fresh water, natural gourmet homemade chicken feed, and plenty of space to stretch their little chicken legs in. For more info on ridge View Farms, visit their website at ridgeviewfarmsonline. They also provide plenty of valuable info on how to raise your own chickens on their website.

Byrnie Floria of Ridge View Farms is all smiles and I am told his chickens
are pretty happy too. Byrnie raises about 1500 hormone-free, anti-biotic free,
organically fed chickens on his farm near Paulden.

I didn’t go to far when one of the vendors asked if I would like to try a sample of fudge and I LOVE FUDGE!! The person tempting me was Lisa Pospishel who together with her husband, Bernie, run Frazier May Fudge Company. Of course I am trying to lose weight so I politely said no even though the devil on my shoulder was whispering yes into my ear. Then they brought out the red velvet fudge………the devil won out! Guess who went home with a small container of red velvet fudge? Yours truly, and when I shared it at a party I went to a couple of days later with several pieces missing, it was a hit! I had a great conversation with Bernie and Lisa and I discovered they love checking out other Farmers’ Markets as much as I do. We even joked around about winning the lottery and traveling around the country to visit all the different markets in all 50 states. We would have a bus and call it the “Magic Market Bus” I highly recommend their fudge; it is about as smooth and sweet as I have had. You can check out Bernie and Lisa’s fantastic fudge online at fraziermayfudge


Bernie and Lisa of Frazier May Fudge churn out some delectably delicious
fudge including my new personal favorite...Red Velvet which disappeared
in a few minutes when I put it out at a party!


After visiting with Bernie and Lisa, I realize I needed to get going back to Phoenix to beat the weekend traffic returning home from the cool country but leaving this market is easier said than done. As I made my way back through the market, I spotted a stand for Jan’s Baked Goods and she had rhubarb turnovers; I had to have one! Now in Minnesota where I was raised, rhubarb is a staple. My mother, aunts, and grandmothers would use it to make jam, pies, cakes, and the ever-popular rhubarb pudding which was actually more like a cake that we drowned in sweet-cream, but in Arizona, rhubarb is a rare commodity. That’s why Jan’s Baked Goods is now one of my favorites. Jan’s has dozens of varieties of Cakes, cupcakes, rolls, breads, cookies and brownies and she also has a large selection of pies including….You Guessed it……rhubarb. I asked Jan if she had rhubarb pudding but she had not heard of it. So I promised to share my Mom’s recipe with her. I haven’t forgotten Jan!

My first ever Rhubarb Turnover from Jan's Baked Goods were just one of
many tasty treats she has to offer at The Flagstaff Community Market.

It was not easy to leave the Flagstaff Community Market behind. The people are wonderful and in the Arizona summer, you can’t beat the spending time at a market that’s located in the cool mountain climate. My visit here was so energizing it’s hard to explain the feeling I got. I would have to say it was somewhat of a spiritual experience, but then that makes sense because after all, it is just a little close to heaven than most.