Originally Published: August 30, 2018 10:15 p.m.
A stroll through the Prescott Farmers Market is an adventure in scents, textures, tastes and chat.
At 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25, the same day as the 50th anniversary celebration at Yavapai College where the market sets up in the far parking lot each Saturday morning from 7:30 a.m. till noon. I stopped in as a reporter/customer, joined by my colleague and friend Cindy Barks who is a more regular guest.
The assignment: See what we could each buy for $20.
First off, I need to tell our readers who may be unaware that this market — and there is also a market in Chino Valley on Thursdays and pop-up varieties in Prescott Valley — isn’t just fresh farm produce and vegetables. The Farmers Market is frequented by 12 local farms and an assortment of other vendors, who sell Arizona-made products, or sell items that made out of natural Arizona ingredients. The market’s rules specify that all products sold at the market must be grown/and or produced by the vendor; all processed food must contain a minimum of 10 percent Arizona-grown ingredients; crafts must contain a minimum of 80 percent locally grown or wild-harvested products. The market also offers a community booth for folks who want to sell small items right out of their gardens.
Upon my arrival, I watched as a pet-friendly crowd formed around a guy who transformed himself via stilts into a talking tree. Children and adults alike couldn’t resist getting their pictures taken with the gentleman who travels throughout the Southwest with his tree outfit.
As it was early, the first thing on my agenda was coffee — but not just any cup of joe. I bought a special Central American bean blend from Yavapai Sourdough bread maker Jason Beyer of Paulden. The cream was from a Williamson Valley Guernsey cow. Well worth the $3. I couldn’t depart without spending $5 to take home a small loaf of sourdough — this one was blackberry buttermilk bread with bittersweet chocolate. Yummy.
Truth be told, before I even reached Beyer’s booth, I was tempted by the organic Peace, Love and Bakery Company booth where I smelled cinnamon rolls. For another $5 bill, I bought a Tuxedo roll, a toffee-flavored roll drizzled with semi-chocolate and white chocolate. Believe it or not, I managed to resist selfishly gobbling it down with my coffee — I shared the treat with my beloved at home.
I did buy some fresh veggies I have enjoyed over the course of this week — a green and purple pepper, a red and yellow onion, a bright yellow zucchini and a pound of tangy/sweet cherry tomatoes. All those together cost $7.
My $20 didn’t last long — I could have stretched it farther had my sweet tooth and caffeine addiction not kicked in full force.
Cindy spent her $20 on farm-fresh ingredients for salsa complete with a batch of 12 homemade, fresh-ingredient corn tortillas. She bought fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers and chilies. She also bought one of the market’s hot ticket items — a fresh tamale she then combined with fresh squeezed watermelon juice. I’m banking on an invitation to sample her finished product.
As the two of us wandered the grounds, separately and together, we both enjoyed listening to the musical entertainment of the Mocking Jays — a variety of artists and entertainers are an integral part of this farmer’s market — and peeked into booths that we will likely visit on another venture.
The market may not be inexpensive if you are looking to fill your veggie bins and pantry shelves, but there is always something for everyone — the next time I will plan lunch at the Noveau Quiche. On this particular Saturday, the owners were serving three different blends of quiche with assorted ingredients such as Gouda, squash blossoms, lemon herb ricotta, fresh chicken and Portobello mushrooms. Price: $6 a slice.
Ridge View Farm is already accepting sign-ups for fresh Thanksgiving turkeys.
The market, too, offers double bucks for families who are part of the state’s supplemental nutrition programs. Spend $20 on fresh foods and get another $20 for similar items. Good nutrition at an affordable price.
“It’s a good market. You can socialize, you can meet other farmers, and bakers. And it’s all local food. It’s good to know where your food comes from,” Beyer said.
I know I’ll be back.