Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Gilbert Farmers' Market, Fun and Food Beneath The Water Tower

Hats off to the people of The Gilbert Farmers’ Market for their willingness to brave the Arizona summer heat just to make sure we won’t miss out on any of their many fine local products! When I saw their facebook post on Saturday morning, July 28th,  I decided I just had to get out their and see what they were all about. Fortunately, the day was overcast and the fragrance of rain hung heavily in the air.  I set my TomTom GPS for 222 N Ash St. in Gilbert and off I went.  

Much to my pleasure, the Gilbert Farmers Market is located in a Park-and- Ride right off the main drag in downtown Gilbert.  The easiest way to find it is to remember that it's right behind The Water Tower!  This makes it very handy for shoppers to make their local purchases, peruse the local shops, and take care of their errands all in one convenient location. Even better, there is plenty of FREE parking in the paved lot adjacent to the market. The market has plenty of shade, water, and restrooms and is open year-around!  The hours are: May-September, 7am-11am and October-April, 8am-12pm.

The Gilbert Farmers Market is Located right downtown.  Just look for
The Water Tower.

Once inside, I set off to find the market coordinators. In the summer, GFM does not have an information booth set up, but everyone there was very helpful in helping me find Jessa Koppenhofer who along with here husband Dan, co-coordinates the market.  Jessa graciously offered to sit down with me and tell me about the GFM .
There is ample parking at The Gilbert Farmers' Market!

The Gilbert Farmers' Market has one of the Valleys most beautiful
market locations.  Pleanty of trees Shade the walkway between the
vendor's tents.

Gilbert Farmers’ Market was established on October 23rd, 2010 with 24 vendors.  The city of Gilbert was and has been very supportive of the market knowing that having it in downtown Gilbert would be a win-win situation for the downtown merchants, the market vendors, and most of all, the patrons. The market now has about 35 vendors in the summer and about 60 in the winter. When I asked Jessa what the  goals of  the market were,  she stated that she would like to be at 95% food and 5% crafts and service and for it to be the largest Farmers’ market in the East Valley. With Jessa’s energy and enthusiasm, I see that as soon being a reality.

The Ice Cream Patrol is a popular place on a hot summer day!

After spending about 15-20 minutes with Jessa, I set off to interview a few of the vendors before the market closed.  Fortunately, I was able to speak with RhibaFarms, Foote Hold Dairy, and Sam’s Warriors.

Rhiba Farms is unique in that they use a form of sustainable agriculture called aquaponics.  Aquaponics is a cross between hydroponics and aquaculture and it is a highly sustainable form of food production.  The folks at Rhiba farms are able to raise herbs, grains, and vegetables without the use of chemicals by using the nutients from the water in fish tanks and then in turn using the plant roots to clean the water and return it to the tanks. The vegetables are then sold at both the Gilbert Farmers’ Market and at The Phoenix Public Market. You can also purchase their healthy products online through their website,  I just had to try the Tabouli Salad! You can also find them on facebook, just type in Rhiba farms and then like. Their website has a ton of useful information related to organics and aquaponics.

Rhiba Farms grows these beautiful baby bell peppers and Shoots using
aquaponics.  They are 100 percent organic and very flavorful!

Rhiba Farms grew these delicious looking melons and squash at their
Gilbert Farm.

My next visit was with John Foote of Footes Hold Dairy. Footes Hold Dairy is located just a few miles south of Dudleyville on highway 77 and is one of only two goat dairies licensed for raw goat milk in the state of Arizona.  Foote Hold Dairies specialty is goat cheese.  John had a assortment of goat cheeses at the market including queso blanco, queso rojo, lemon pepper, pepper jack, and my favorite, treepa blanco.  Footes Hold is at the Gilbert Farmers’ Market every Saturday and the Ahwatukee Farmers Market Every Sunday.  You can also find Footes Hold cheeses at Sportsman’s Fine Wines on 32nd St and Camelback in Phoenix and also at Wedge and Bottle at 40th St. and Chandler Boulevard in Ahwatukee.  Stop by and see John next time your at either market, he’s a pleasure to visit with and the cheese is excellent. I had time for one more interview before the market closed and I wanted to make sure I had a minute to visit with Sam Irving and his mom, Renata Irving of Sam’s Warriors Art and Autism.

Footes Hold Dairy is one on only two gaot dairies licensed for raw milk
in Arizona.  Here is an assorment of some veru flavorful gaot cheese!

Sam and his Mother, Renata were the first people I met when I entered the market. They have a booth in "Charity Lane" which consists of 4 spots located at the main entrance that are available to local Non Profits for FREE!  Because they were doing work for Autism, I wanted to be sure and hear what their establishment was all about.   As it turns out, Sam is a very talented artist and Sam’s Warriors is a charitable organization through which Sam markets his art and then uses the proceeds to benefit the organization, AutismSpeaks.  Sam mainly created greeting cards using acrylic paint.  Sam likes to paint colorful birds and flowers and is very good at it.  I was fortunate to receive a card with two brightly colored tropical birds on it.  The cards are only $2.00 and definitely benefit a worthy cause.  

One of Sam Irvings Many Beautiful greeting cards.  What Talent!!!!

Sam Irving  of Sam's Warriors Displays some of his artwork which
he sells at The Gilbert Farmers' Market to benefit Autism Speaks.

Renata also informed me that Autism Speaks will be having a 5k walk for autism on Sunday, October 28th at Tempe Beach Park starting at 8am. Anyone interested can register online at  The weather should be great by then; it is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and raise money for a very worthy cause. You can also call them at (602) 685-1161 or SARRC at (602) 340-8717.  If your at the Gilbert Farmers Market, be sure and stop by and say hi to Sam.

I really enjoyed my visit at the Gilbert Farmers Market and see a bright future ahead for the market and for the buy local movement in Gilbert Arizona.  I highly recommend a visit to this delightful market.  I look forward to future visits here and wish them all the prosperity in the years to come.