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Oct 20, 2007 03:35 PM

phx farmers markets

Got the huge list of farmers markets from Winedubar:

We've gotten a major bug after visiting Vincent's market the past 2 weeks and figured to start making our way through the list.

We hit the Market at DC Ranch today as we were going to be near. Only had a bit of time and was going to return if it was great. It was actually quite small and mostly crafts. Only saw 2 food booths and think one was aimed at selling big packages of steaks to take home & the other was prepared Italian food to take home. Think they both had some to eat there but it didn't seem the focus. There was one booth of produce but we didn't have the chance to really check it out. As a major focus of ours when going to these is having a good lunch, we didn't end up returning and will probably move on down the list. Definitely didn't seem a food focused market.

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  1. Unfortunately, the phrase "quite small and mostly crafts" seems to describe just about all the farmer's markets here, even the celebrated ones Downtown and at Town and Country. Right now, I think that local farmer's markets are torn between two contradictory needs: The first is to satisfy consumer expectations that a market should be at least 75% food vendors with at least 50% vendors of unprepared food (produce, meats, etc.) and maybe a smaller number selling prepared foods. The second is the impulse to put a farmer's market in every corner of our large metro area. Unfortunately, these two trends work against each other. Each of the scattered markets has only a handful of actual unprepared food vendors. Ultimately, I think there's going to have to be some consolidation. If all the unprepared food vendors that are dispersed at markets throughout the area, many of them occurring at the same time on Saturday morning, were to consolidate centrally at the Downtown Market, then we'd have a farmer's market worth a drive from anywhere in the metro area. Without such consolidation, unfortunately, I don't find any of them worth visiting on a consistent basis.

    1 Reply
    1. re: silverbear

      I haven't been to the T&C Market but we have been often to the downtown market(not since spring I usually work on Saturday so it's hard to get odwn there).

      The downtown market is OK. There aren't a lot of vendors but the ones that are there do offer quality products(One Windmill Farm, Maya, Crooked Sky for example). It's not the kind of market where you go and browse and spend a morning...we're usually in and out in about 25 minutes when we go...basically just to do the weekly shopping. we live in Chandler so it's a long way for us also...another reason we don't go more than once a month when we are able to get there.

      We've also tried a CSA...I had mixed feelings about that. We did it over summer though and that is admittedly not the best year of time to judge somethign like that here in the Valley. We're not sure if we'll try again, maybe in the future but probably through a different one.

      I will say that Tucson has a good farmer's market. Too far for us all to travel to from here but it would be great if one of our local ones got to the level of the one we've been to down there(St Philip's Plaza).

    2. This is such a timely post, since I was thinking about posting similar experiences with the Downtown market, we finally went to this morning.

      Quite frankly, I didn't see much in the way of food. We did buy some of the flavored pastas, but that was about all we found.

      We will probably hit up some of the other markets on other weekends, but for us downtown was a bust.

      They were having a festival, on 7th St, by all the galleries (think it was called the Harvest Festival), so we stopped in there. Still not big on food, but we did get a Oatmeal Apple Cookie from Tammie Coe's (permanent shop) and it was wonderful. My wife is still complaining that she had to share.

      I strongly agree that it would be far superior to have a single market, where all vendors could attend than a bunch of small ones. We would probably shop weekly at a large market if it was worthy, but likely won't be repeat visitors at any of the smaller ones.

      Of course, the farmers market operators are notoriously weird about the way they run their operations, so I wouldn't expect anything that makes good business sense to happen any time soon.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Booger

        Farmer's markets have it rough here. (not too many farmers who want to take the time to sell in such limited circmstances, for one thing) Town and Country is usually pretty good, and even though Chandler usually only has Jeff Scott - well, he's great, it's organic and he usually has a fairly wide variety. (wish he'd bring back the heritage produce, but...ya gotta go with what'll sell. alas.) It seems to me that the market up around36th and Cactus - there's a city park there - was not too bad the couple of times I trekked there. I think that's on Saturday too. Bear in mind, too - the reason the markets are as they are here, is because so many people will not buy from them. If they were completely jammed every week, we'd probably have a better response from the producers.

      2. tara17 had a thread on this a few months back:

        Those of us from non-desert environs (she from Minnesota, me from Maine) expect anything labeled "Farmers Market" to contain stuff that is grown by farmers. The few vegetables I've seen around here at the markets looked like some sort of failed experiments. I'm all for locally sourced items, but at some point you need to face reality. The markets here basically suck compared to what I'm used to and expect. We went to Young's Farm a few years back when they were still in business and their vegetable selection was much more like what I'm used to. What we're left with now, however, just aren't Farmers Markets in the conventional sense. I know the markets here have their supporters, but we aren't among them.

        1. it's no secret i'm a big supporter of the farmers market. i understand if people don't see the full blush of fresh fruit everywhere like you would in the midwest or even san francisco. but i get about 95% of my food from the downtown farmers market. so when people say things like 'there's no food there' im at a loss since its basically my grocery store.

          like today :

          genovese basil from sea cat gardens
          arugula, pink & japanese turnips from maya's farm
          red onion & dill farmers cheese from rainbow valley farm's
          pickled african burr gerkins from cotton country jams
          apple cider, refrigerator water melon, cantaloupe, salad mix, shallots, garlic, red bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, leeks, pears and apples from one windmill farms
          pita chips, pepper salad, garlic hummus from dr hummus
          9 grain bread from bread basket
          dozen eggs from chili acres
          andalusian potato salad from sapna chillout cafe
          brown & white tepary beans from the bean guy
          weird aztec grain things i can't even find on google from the aztec grain guy *yulu on the package??*
          and a pork sandwhich to go from the dude with the bbq sauce. to die for :D

          if i could afford it, it buy the organic grass fed beef maya has at maya's farm. but heck i try :D

          i understand everyone's mileage may vary. and it does. like i said - sometimes i wonder if i'm at the same market as everyone. maybe one day i'll offer tours!! ;)

          4 Replies
          1. re: winedubar

            Some fans of the Downtown Market may approach it the way I approach Trader Joe's. I like TJ's so much that I sometimes make decisions of what to cook at home based on what the store has to offer and will not go to another store to get a special ingredient. Instead, I'll bend recipes and menus to accommodate my "Trader Joe's diet."

            Likewise, for a person really committed to the Downtown Market, it's possible to shape menus around what is offered there each week. In fact, in some ways that's a locavore ideal -- building one's diet around what is produced locally.

            None of this redeems the Downtown Market for me. I'm not a locavore to begin with, and the artsy-crafty vendors tend to drive me away. Nevertheless, looking at the Downtown Market from the point of view mentioned in my first two paragraphs helps me understand its appeal to others.

            1. re: winedubar

              I went to the downtown Phoenix Public Market for the first time this past Saturday and I had a blast. Yes, there were craft venders there, but I kept walking past those. I first stopped at One Windmill Farms where I got two bunches of tomatoes, on the vine, 3 yellow onions, shallots, garlic, arugula, italian parsley, spinach, a butternut squash and I could have gone on if it were not for lack of space in my bags. I purchased a dozen eggs (can't remember the vender) with a mixture of brown, white and blue!. I also bought an arugula plant to plant at home and some fresh baked bread from another vendor. I've been using this stuff all week and I've already been kicking myself for not buying more.

              Yes, I'm sure other parts of the country have better and bigger markets (I've witnessed them in Seattle, San Fran and D.C.) but we are in the desert here folks and the farmers that are here are dedicated and provide a beautiful crop for those of us willing to take the time and effort.

              1. re: scorpioscuba

                ss -- I read your blog posting about your trip to the Downtown Market and the egg dish created with the ingredients purchased there. While I continue to be frustrated by the Downtown Market, I'm glad it worked out well for you.

                Interesting comment about walking past the craft vendors. It makes me think about what I consider one of the fundamental problems with the Downtown Market: Most of the produce vendors, including One Windmill Farm, are usually lined up along the Pierce Street side of the lot, which from most visitors' perspective is the "back" of the market. I think the majority of visitors enter from the north side facing McKinley Street, which I consider the "front" of the market.

                I think that placing One Windmill and some of the other produce vendors closer to most visitors' point of entry would go a long way. I think the need to walk past the craft vendors on the way to the produce vendors is a major force in creating the impression that the market is mostly arts-and-crafts with minimal food.

                1. re: silverbear

                  interesting perspective, sb, i hadn't considered that point!!

                  the downside of that tho is that one windmill scoped out that spot - if you peek along the street you can see their trucks lined up there, which makes restocking easier for them. and, if you look carefully, chris bianco usually shows up around 9:30 to grab his flats of tomatoes off the trucks. ;) one of the benefits of showing up late is seeing the chefs pick up their weekly orders ;)

            2. Went to Vincent's on Saturday morning pre-golf on Saturday morning and had a great time. I LOVED the duck tamales, as did my tamale-disliking girlfriend. She had a sweet crepe ($6.50) while I went with a ridiculously-overstuffed savory crepe ($7.00) - this was a meal in itself. Definitely not a market where you can stock-up for the week, but a nice meal and great for a few local high-quality items. Finally I have fingerling potatoes back in my house! Need to get to T&C this week to see how they're doing.