Farm to Table Report – JAN/FEB 2020
A Fresh Start for the New Year
The beginning of a new year is a fresh start – especially when you buy locally grown produce at Heirloom Farmers Markets! Buying and eating local food isn’t just good for you – it’s good for neighboring farmers, the local economy, and our environment.
Winter–one of the most bountiful growing seasons in southern Arizona–is a great time to think about how you can better nourish yourself and your loved ones with local food all year long.
“Because it’s at its peak potential for nutrients and flavor, eating local and in-season produce ensures its highest nutritional value and best flavor,” says Heirloom Farmers Markets Market Ambassador Kalyee Haddad. As great as local food is, shopping at the farmers market isn’t always easy – especially when you’re used to shopping at the grocery store. That’s why Kaylee offers tours of the Rillito Park Farmers Market every Sunday to help customers become more confident farmers market shoppers. On a recent farmers market tour, Kaylee shared these helpful tips for navigating the market and getting the most out of your visit:
MAKE A LIST | Before you head out for the market, make a list of what you need for the week. Using your list for guidance will ensure that you don’t forget anything and will help you stick to your budget, too!
BRING YOUR OWN BAGS & CONTAINERS | It’s uncomfortable to cradle a bundle of delicate greens in the crook of your arm as you grasp a heavy bag of Arizona oranges. Bring your own reusable bags and containers to the farmers market to make it easier to haul all of the local goods you find. Ditch the plastic completely and bring large mason jars, cloth bags, and food storage containers for loose items like salad greens, potatoes, and pistachios. It takes a little bit of preparation, but bringing your own bags and containers to the market is good for you and the planet.
SHOP FIRST, PREP LATER | Sunday is the beginning of a new week, which makes it a great day to do your food shopping and preparation for the week. Start your morning at the Rillito Park Farmers Market to get all of the delicious local food you need for a week’s worth of meals. Going to the market first will help you to identify the items on your list that might only be available at the grocery store, which you can stop at on the way home. Once you have all of your ingredients, spend the afternoon cleaning, storing, and prepping your produce so that it’s easier to use throughout the week.
FRUITS AND VEGGIES FIRST | For food safety reasons, buy fruits and veggies before buying meat, cheese, and eggs. The longer animal products aren’t in cold storage, the more likely they are to spoil.
TASTE THE MARKET | Located at the Rillito Park Farmers Market, the Taste of the Market booth offers seasonally inspired recipes and samples every Sunday! Stop by for a taste of something delicious and stay for a dose of inspiration.
EAT THE RAINBOW | “Eat the rainbow” is an easy way to remember to eat a variety of different fruits and vegetables, each of which can provide you with unique phytonutrients that your body needs. Pick up the free Eat the Rainbow Recipe Book at the Taste of the Market booth to get recipe ideas for every color of the rainbow.
COME FOR COMMUNITY | While there are plenty of wonderful things to buy at the farmers market, you don’t have to spend money to enjoy your time there. Try free samples from market vendors, dance to live music, and connect with your community in a whole new way.
Spring for Gardening in 2020
Growing your own food in a backyard garden or community garden plot is a great way to dig into the food system. Eating the produce of your labor isn’t just rewarding – it’s cost-effective, fun, and healthy! While the cold winter months aren’t suitable for planting most seeds outside, they provide a great opportunity to plan a bountiful spring garden that will flourish after the last freeze of the year. If you’re new to gardening or want to take your skills to the next level, there are many community resources that can help.
You’ll find everything from plant starts to seasoned growers at Heirloom Farmers Markets. For a head start on your spring garden, buy seasonal veggie starts from Sleeping Frog Farms, Wild Child Gardens, and Cactus Rose Floral. For gardening equipment and expert advice, look no further than Thrive and Grow Gardens: a local business that sells high-quality gardening supplies, gives private consultations, and offers community gardening workshops. Their upcoming workshop Preparing for Spring Gardening on February 17 is a great way to learn how to build a successful spring garden from the soil up. Download Thrive and Grow Gardens’ free Annual Planting Calendar at thriveandgrowgardens.com and stop by their booth in the barn at the Rincon Valley Farmers and Artisans Market on Saturdays to learn more about how they can help your spring garden dreams become a reality.
For hands-on gardening experience that will grow your skills and knowledge, check out the free events at The Garden Kitchen in South Tucson. During The Garden Kitchen’s Community Gardening Hour every Thursday morning you can help maintain their community garden, learning from expert gardeners as you give back to the community. The Garden Kitchen’s Fit First Saturday events are another great way to learn about gardening. The next Fit First Saturday on February 1 will include a water harvesting and conservation workshop hosted by the Pima County Master Gardeners – another excellent community resource. To learn more about the free gardening events at The Garden Kitchen, visit thegardenkitchen.org.
Once you’re ready to sow your seeds, visit the Pima County Public Library. Their incredible seed library contains a wide variety of seeds packets that library cardholders can check out for no cost. While you’re there, check out a few gardening books and register for one of their free gardening workshops, taught by experts from organizations like Native Seeds/SEARCH, Pima County Master Gardeners, and the LEAF Network.
Here in Tucson, we’re lucky to have so many wonderful businesses and organizations that are dedicated to helping us grow our own food. With a lot of wonderful resources and a little bit of luck, you’ll be eating homegrown beets, carrots, and sweet peas in no time.
Moving on UP! Friday Farmers Market at Udall Park
Heirloom Farmers Markets’ Friday market has moved from Trail Dust Town to Udall Park, back to where it was located 11 years ago. “People in the area were always asking about it. It will be a great asset for Udall Park and the east side in general” says Councilperson Paul Cunningham.
Located at the north entrance (near the baseball fields) of the expansive 173-acre Morris K. Udall Park, the Friday morning farmers market is visible from the road and can be easily accessed by both the SunTran and Udall Transit system. With over 20 vendors at the Udall Park Farmers Market, customers can expect to find local produce, farm-fresh eggs, Arizona grass-fed beef, local honey, locally roasted coffee, baked goods, salsa, tortillas, freshly roasted vegetables, pet products, soaps and more.
The Udall Park Farmers Market welcomes SNAP/EBT customers and encourages them to participate in Double Up Food Bucks AZ. Accessible and inclusive, this family-friendly market is the perfect place for the community to gather and enjoy live music, fresh food, and one of Tucson’s greatest outdoor parks.