MARKET SPOTLIGHTS: ARIZONA FARMERS MARKETS THAT BRING THEIR COMMUNITIES TOGETHER

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Farmers markets can be much more than a place to buy fresh produce. Food brings people together, and markets can often become pillars of their communities. As we continue to join in on the Farmer’s Market Celebration, we’re highlighting markets that foster community. By creating a central gathering place, bringing people of all walks of life together, or celebrating the uniqueness of their hometowns, these Arizona farmers markets have done just that:

Sierra Vista Farmers Market

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Market manager Diane Jones explains how the Sierra Vista Farmers Market goes above and beyond to bring everyone in their community together:

How does your farmers market act as a pillar of your community? Is it a central gathering place? 

The Sierra Vista Farmers Market becomes a gathering place every single Thursday of the year (except Thanksgiving) at a beautiful park located in the center of the city. For many people the market offers one of their few opportunities to get out into the community and run into friends and see vendors they have come to know. Most of our vendors live right here in this area, and the market provides the location to weave the web of connections within the community.

Does your market celebrate the uniqueness of your hometown? How? 

Our market celebrates the uniqueness of our hometown by showcasing it as a hub for the whole county. I am often told that there is a very friendly vibe to this market. I think this is in part because people are proud to have such a great market in an area so small and are thrilled to see it thrive. We are glad to offer a fun place for people to spend the day and our customers come from all over the county to socialize and shop.

Why is it important for farmers markets to act as central gathering places or pillars of their communities? 

It’s important for farmers markets to act as central gathering places because it offers a consistent weekly place where there is always something interesting happening, and new foods in season. It is, for some people, one of their main chances to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors. One woman told me that, “The only time I feel like I have a real hometown is when I come to the market.” We make an effort to learn the names of customers and make them feel welcome.

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about your market’s efforts to be a pillar of your community? 

We make sure to include lots of non-profits, community, and educational groups into the market so the can network and do outreach. This helps everyone share in the knowledge of resources available.

Fresh Express Mobile Market 

Photos courtesy  Fresh Express Mobile Market

Photos courtesy Fresh Express Mobile Market

Jenny Carrillo, the Fresh Express Mobile Market Coordinator, told us more about how the mobile market becomes an unlikely gathering place everywhere it goes:

How does your farmers market/farm stand act as a pillar of your community? Is it a central gathering place? If so, why? 

Fresh Express has spent the last three years building community and support among our varied and diverse neighborhoods. We don’t just sell affordable fruits and vegetables; we provide our community members a safe place to build community, learn about neighborhoods programs, and connect with neighbors and friends.

We’re proud to partner with existing nutrition programs at universities as well as health education and food programs at our community sites and schools. Because we offer health and nutrition pamphlets, recipe guides, and information on leading a healthy lifestyle, we’ve become a trusted resource for health and wellness to our customers.

Does your market celebrate the uniqueness of your hometown? How? 

We’re proud to call Arizona home. We partner with important community sites and centers that have a long history of bettering the communities they serve. It is our hope that our work at Fresh Express only enhances the impact these organizations are already having in their communities. Additionally, we support local farmers- farmers who devote their lives to making Arizona’s food economy diverse and robust. We feel fortunate to be able to pass along that legacy to our customers to help them build a sense of pride in the state they call home.

Why is it important for farmers markets/farm stands to act as central gathering places or pillars of their communities? 

For many in the urban areas of Phoenix and Tempe, there are significant barriers to access of high quality, nutritious foods. Fresh Express has worked tirelessly to ensure that all residents, regardless of where they live, work, gather, and play, have access to healthy foods. Providing consistent, reliable access to healthy foods and nutrition education resources not only helps residents lead healthy, productive lives, it helps create a sense of community and togetherness among the customers who take advantage of all Fresh Express has to offer.

Visit http://www.sierravistafarmersmarket.com and http://www.discoverytriangle.org/fresh-express.html to learn more about the markets and their upcoming events.

We love to hear stories about farmers markets bringing Arizonans together. Does your favorite farmers market act as a pillar of their community? Let us know, and nominate them today for the American Farmland Trust’s Farmers Market Celebration!