Apr 172013

By Linda Kor
Fresh, locally grown produce and other local farm products will soon be made available in Holbrook as a group of area residents work together to form a farmers market. A meeting held last Friday brought together facilitator Mary Johnson, the county’s University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Service administrative assistant Mary Bradley, Carol Poore and Dennis Swayda of Stargate Valley Farm in Woodruff, and other gardening enthusiasts.
The effort involves providing locally grown produce to the public, as well as meeting and making friends by sharing healthy food and healthy living.
City Councilman Wade Carlisle was present at the meeting and announced that he would provide the location for the market, an empty lot in the 400 block of Hopi Drive where the old Rent-A-Flik building once stood. Carlisle said he wouldn’t charge vendors to take part in the market and intends to paint the sign already on the lot with advertising for the market. In addition, Walt’s Hardware, the business owned by Carlisle, will provide gravel for the lot so that wind and rain will not impact the ability to sell at the space provided.
The idea began in the Master Gardener workshops hosted by the Cooperative Extension Service as those who came to learn about growing began discussing the value of a having a farmers market in the community.
“It’s really about sharing what we have and bringing the community together,” explained Bradley.
Poore and Swayda were on hand to provide a wealth of information regarding farmers markets. The couple grows organic produce and raises goats to provide milk for their goat cheese factory. For the past 20 years they have made a business of attending and promoting farmers markets throughout the county.
It was emphasized that this would be strictly a farmers market, not a swap meet. Only homegrown produce, as well as items made by the vendor, and small livestock such as chickens may be sold.
“It’s very important that we get the word out not only to Holbrook, but all the communities in the area such as Joseph City and Woodruff, that this is a free service,” stated Bradley. She went on to explain that there are so many people here, such as herself, who just don’t know where to go to find fresh produce and who the local growers are. This provides a service not only to the public, but to the growers as well. “There is so little produce on this mountain. We need to get small growers to come together, even backyard gardeners,” stated Poore.
Vendors would be responsible for providing their own table, trash receptacle and canopy that must be securely weighed down. Vendors may set up tables at the market after 8 a.m. each Saturday, with the market to be open from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. beginning May 18.
Vendors selling certified organic produce are encouraged to post signs at their booth. If vendors choose to bring pets to the farmers’ market, the pets must remain in the owners’ vehicles at all times.
For more information on participating in the farmers market, e-mail holbrookfarmersmarket@gmail.com.