There are few things better in my healthy kitchen than the flavorful produce, freshly baked bread, meaty mushrooms, vibrant herbs, pungent sauces and other delicious delights I find each week at the Prescott Farmers Market! In addition to being a wonderful place to purchase a big variety of fresh, seasonal produce and prepared foods, it’s also a family friendly venue that builds ties within our community while supporting local family farms. Kathleen Yetman, Executive Director of the Prescott Farmers Market recently joined me on the set of YRMC’s Your Healthy Kitchen to share some exciting market news, tell a few stories, and make her family’s favorite easy and delicious market meal!
The Prescott Farmers Market, a non-profit 501(c)3 organization, has come a long way since 1997, when a few local farmers, cooks, and craftspeople gathered together in downtown Prescott on summer weekends to sell their wares. Today, the market is open for business year-round on Saturday mornings in Prescott and on summer Thursday afternoons in Chino Valley, with over 50 farms and small businesses selling products in the summer and over 40 hardy vendors in the winter! In addition, regular pop-up venues bring fresh food and produce to people throughout our community, especially those who live far from the regular market sites. On a recent walk through the summer market, I saw vendors selling beautiful fresh-cut flowers, vibrant seasonal produce, freshly baked breads, fresh mushrooms, gourmet heirloom garlic, lavender products, hand-knitted clothing, soaps, wooden cutting boards and utensils, baked goods, tamales, wood-fired pizza, quiche, samosas, fresh frozen fruit pops and even kombucha! There’s always hot coffee, tea and ice-cold lemonade available at the market to quench your thirst, and music to relax with or dance to. Local ranchers offer grass-fed beef, chicken, pork and farm fresh eggs, and there are a large variety of beautiful hand-made gifts to buy.
All of the products for sale at the Prescott Farmers Market are locally grown or produced. Farmers submit crop plans at the beginning of each season that must match the products they sell. Farm inspections ensure that everything a farmer sells was grown on his or her farm. Food products, like tamales, sandwiches, and samosas, must contain some local ingredients and be made by the people selling them. Yetman comments, “I don’t know of any other farmers market in our state that inspects farms like the Prescott Farmers Market does”.
The economic contribution to the community is substantial. In 2018, vendors at the summer and winter markets did over one million dollars in sales, and much of this much of this money stayed right here, supporting other local businesses. Yetman explains, “For every ten dollars we spend on local products, more than four of those dollars stay in our community, supporting other small family businesses. When we shop at large chain or corporate stores, only a little over one dollar recirculates into our community”. Yetman continues, “Another economic benefit is that vendors at the market sell their products directly to customers, eliminating middlemen, which improves their ability to make a sustainable, living wage”.
Other benefits of the Prescott Farmers Market can’t be measured in dollars and cents. For example, the value of knowing who grows your produce, raises the chickens that lay the eggs you love, or bakes your bread is immeasurable. Fresh produce, picked at peak ripeness, bursts with more flavor and nutrients than fruits and vegetables grown to withstand the time and travel needed to bring food from distant farms to regional stores. Local produce also stays fresh and vibrant much longer than anything you can buy at a big box store, saving money in the long run because food does not spoil quickly and go to waste! In addition, and possibly most important, the ties that are formed between vendors and their customers, or among strangers and friends who gather to shop and socialize, strengthen our community in many ways as we get to know our close and distant neighbors.
The summer Prescott Farmers Market is open from 7:30-12:00 on Saturdays in Prescott at Yavapai College, parking lot D, and in Chino Valley on Thursdays, from 3:00-6:00 pm, at Olsen’s Grain, 344 Highway 89. The market accepts SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) and is a proud provider of Double Up Food Bucks Arizona, where SNAP recipients receive a dollar for dollar match in tokens for SNAP dollars, up to $20 per market visit to buy fresh Arizona-grown fruits and vegetables. A number of vendors also accept Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks that are available to eligible low-income WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) and SFMNP (Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program) recipients through Yavapai County Community Health Services. In addition, the Prescott Farmers Market website, at https://www.prescottfarmersmarket.org/ is packed with information about market locations and hours, scheduled pop-ups, events, and every vendor. While there, be sure to sign up for their informative newsletter, where you can read more about featured vendors in each issue. You can also sign up for text message alerts about market times and pop-ups! I hope to see you there soon!