Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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My vendor neighbors at the Heirloom Farmers Market on Sundays are one of the reasons I have so much fun there. Our Garden Goddess Ferments booth is favorably located next to two awesome food trucks and a dining area. All the vendors are helpful and friendly with each other, usually offering a vendor discount as well. I met Saxon Posey on my first time at the market, so I was delighted that our permanent location is right across the way from the Posey brothers business, Desert Edible V’eggs. The name is derived from the recycled egg cartons used as packaging and seed starting greenhouse. Saxon gives credit to his younger brother Bryce for the colors on the logo. They are a cool team.
The well designed starter kits for gardeners are complete with everything you need to begin a garden. All you add is water and care. As Saxon explains, the small time gardener rarely uses a full package of seeds. The V’eggs seeds are planted in peat pots ready to start indoors or in a greenhouse. The box they come in is the first mini greenhouse used to start the seeds. After they sprout the lid can be lifted. When the seedlings are a couple of inches tall they can be planted into the ground or a larger planter to mature. Their system is practically fool proof, and brilliantly well planned. The boys want their customers to be successful as farmers. They have created 35 different garden packs that are seasonally appropriate. These are the kits they offer at the farmers market. They are also creating a new line especially designed for elementary school gardens called Schoolhouse Crops. They feature really easy to grow varieties in the Schoolhouse kits to give the schools a better outcome.
The brothers are personable, funny, and are masters of their own creative business while still in the 4th and 6th grades. I am mighty impressed with this family of entrepreneurs. I feel lucky to know them at this young age, and have to wonder what they will do with this business experience in the future. With a little encouragement from their mom Erika, also a friendly addition to the market booth, there is no telling what these powerhouse Posey boys will create. It is impressive to watch them work. They are featured this month in the edible Baja Arizona magazine, which is a real source of pride for Saxon as you see below.
The popularity of farmers markets is in the rise. People are interested in fresh sources of local food, and more entrepreneurs are entering the market with new natural products. The variety and quality of locally produced foods has soared in Baja Arizona in the last few years. Specialty growers and artisanal small batch culinary companies are featured at most of our markets. Some feature food trucks and vendors of prepared meals, both frozen and ready to eat on the spot. Many markets have entertainers, usually musicians, to entertain the crowd. The combination of shopping for special food and being outdoors is a perfect recipe for family enjoyment. The market creates an atmosphere that encourages healthy culture and social engagement.
I have been a customer at many markets all around the world, rarely being disappointed. Yesterday I participated as a vendor for the first time at the Heirloom Farmers Market at the Rillito Race Track in Tucson. I was in training to represent Garden Goddess raw fermented sauerkraut, made in Phoenix, down here in Tucson. The goddess herself, Suzette Smith, showed me how it is done and set me up with the equipment and permits I will need to get going on my own as a market vendor. We had a really great time meeting the customers as well as the other vendors. For our first appearance anywhere in Tucson we had a very warm reception. The flavor as well as the health benefits make fermented foods easy for me to promote. I eat the kraut myself daily with excellent results. I can enthusiastically endorse the changes it has made to my digestive system. Health is valuable to me, but if something does not taste good I am not very likely to get into it. Garden Goddess krauts are so deliciously different from others on the market that I find the sample taste convinces many to buy. Some folks who think they are not fans of kraut change their minds when they taste the Garden Goddess versions of this ancient food. Others who do enjoy it are surprised to find such a full flavored kraut with so many medicinal additives to increase the benefits.
The time flew by yesterday because sharing the day with the community at a market is one of my favorite pastimes. I am feeling lucky to find a new way to participate in the local food culture. It is a blast to turn people on to the wonders and flavors of artisanal sauerkraut.
In September Arizona agriculture is peaking with abundance. There are crops that grow well in serious heat, like melons and okra, that are finishing the season. Many more crops enjoy the long slow slide into winter that we have and will be ready soon. The grapes for wine are soon to be harvested, the apples in Wilcox are being picked, and some date varieties are now starting to be ripe and ready to eat. There are a large variety of squash being grown around Arizona that are never seen in regular grocery stores, and you can even get fresh squash blossoms to prepare. More vendors come out in the cooler weather as more customers show up to shop and dine at the food trucks. We like to go for unusual gourmet finds as well as for entertainment. We see people we know and sometimes take the dog. It makes a good outing and supports the local farmers in the process. Today we came home with some very special smoked salsa homemade by smoking all the vegetables on mesquite wood before combining them. We bought a baby blue Hubbard squash..a mini version of the giant winter squash with the rich flavor. I got some cayenne, garlic and some extra hot jalapeño chiles because our own chiles in the garden are ripe and ready to go to become salsa at home. I will use the little green tomatoes, the garlic and the chiles to round out the flavor and make different levels of picante for different tastes. We are drinking fresh apple cider today from Wilcox. The little lemon cucumbers will make a sparkle in salads and the light colored pickling cucumbers are good straight up why themselves as a snack. We did not get dates because I have a few I need to use from last season before I start on this year’s. I don’t mind paying extra in order to put the mooney right into the hand of the person who grew or made it.
How is the farmers’ market scene where you live? Are you able to get to one on a regular basis? I like both the specialty prepared foods and the fresh produce. They both serve the local farming community and let us have some extra special meals enhanced by products and produce not to be found at standard grocery shopping outlets. When I travel I make it a point to attend a local market if at all possible. I think they are growing in popularity and in variety of available products. Some have musical entertainment. It is fun to meet the farmer and know your food is as fresh as it can be.