We’re sponsoring musicians Coco and Lafe on their 2011 “Get Fresh” 100 Market Tour across the U.S.! You heard right, 100 farmers markets coast to coast! Don’t forget to check out the page dedicated to them on our blog, and today we have an update from them!
We sublet the San Diego apartment to a wonderful Navy woman (she’s not blue, she’s a Sea-Bee!) for the duration of this tour: till November 1st. Five months!
We didn’t leave the beach until after 5 p.m. It was late getting into Sedona, Arizona.
Here’s what we woke up to:
Sidetrack: Round about midnight, on a rural road cutting us across the Arizona foothills, Coco sailed over an unmarked railroad crossing at sixty miles per hour and our Toyota Rav went airborne. Literally off the ground. I had my eyes closed but not asleep and bolted upright. No damage, no problem, and 2 minutes later we startled a huge owl and I was awake enough to see it. The journey. It’s all about the journey.
We performed at Sedona Winds Retirement Center at 1 pm. Great people, great fun, super activities director. They gave us a standing invitation to play there anytime so we’ll be back in October at the end of this tour.
On to the Grand Opening of the Sedona Farmers Market. No go. Predicted wind gusts of 40 mph created a nervous market manager, Katrin Themlitz, who related an incident from last year where a musician’s speaker blew onto a customer and off to the emergency room they roamed. Probably quicker than “roamed.” The customer was fine, but no more music in the wind.
On to one of our favorite markets in the country, one we’ve now played three years in a row on these national tours:
We could write about what makes a market superbly managed or poorly managed, and how you can quickly tell the difference just by walking through one, but that’s not our purpose here. Trust us that the Prescott Farmers Market is one you should detour to if you live or are visiting anywhere in Arizona. Great vendors, crafts, farmers giving cooking tips, dog friendly and a beautiful setting.
A look at some of Prescott’s Fresh Heroes:
Byrnie Florea has been around farming all his life. He and Wade Caslin are in their third year at the market and they will harvest somewhere between 10 and 15,000 chickens this year (up from 2500 three years ago!). They make their own chicken feed which is certified organic. In addition to the market, they supply three restaurants: The Brix Restaurant and Wine Bar and Criollo Latin Kitchen in Flagstaff, and the Turquoise Room in Winslow. They gave us a whole smoked chicken for dinner! Delicious!
And here’s the punchline: They started with just a few chickens in a barn, and Bernie thought they’d be happier if they could get outside the barn. So he built nests for them in the barnyard, and they wandered out to use them. It was so clear, he said, that they were happier, that he expanded it and now it’s part of their farming process. How cool is that? This guy cares about his chicken’s happiness! I’ll eat that.
Cory started Whipstone in ’95, and now has 10 acres planted. They attend three markets every week, and Cory usually brings the equipment to fire roast hot and sweet peppers at the market. They have an 85 member CSA program, and supply the Turquoise Room restaurant in Winslow.
Punchline? The renowned chef of the Turquoise, John Sharpe, buys squash blossoms from Whipstone. Did you know that squash blossoms have to be picked at the coolest hour of the day? So Whipstone harvests them between 2 and 4 a.m., and delivers them fresh to John by early morn. Another song to be written. Thanks Dylan!
Home on the range:
Orme Ranch comprises 26,000 acres: 5% private, 17% State leased, and 78% grazing allotment on the Agua Fria grasslands of Yavapai County. Thirteen years of drought have dropped the herd from 750 to 250 head, “…but we’ve hung on and it will change,” Diana Kessler told me. She could be writing those Bobby McFerron happy songs.
With her husband Alan and four employees they use holistic management principles and follow written goals for maintaining the land and for using low stress methods of handling cattle as they move through the pastures and corrals. The cattle spend their lives grazing native forage and sharing the land with a variety of wildlife species. (That last part is from their market flyer.)
I loved her enthusiasm and obvious passion, and here’s the punchline: Orme Ranch also has a sod farm! That’s right, all those slang terms like “old sod” are harvested on site.
Wait, Coco’s pointing out their business card: “Producing Bluegrass Blends for Your Project.” I’ll leave what I wrote because they clearly have a sense of humor. Also from their business card: “Easy to get a lawn with.” (Coco says to go ahead and grown. )
Jessie, her husband and their three-year old daughter work a back yard garden and bring bags of mixed greens (she gave us one: crisp, tasty and fresh), but let’s get to the gooder part:
You’ve got to blow the picture up to appreciate these. Absolutely gorgeous. She’s like one of those amateur photographers who have “the eye” but don’t know it or how they do it.
So that wraps up the Prescott Farmers Market pics, although I messed up picks of Chino Valley farms who work 11 acres of tomatoes and cucumbers and more, and harvest an orchard of “…whatever doesn’t freeze. Some years it’s apples and pears, some years plums…” They attend six markets and deliver to four restaurants and, punchline: they run a summer farm camp for kids!
Did I mention the father-son duo who make Scottish Shortbread, among other Scottish goodies. Or the square-dancing vendors? (I have video from our last visit!) Or that many of these vendors, like most markets, filled our tip basket with fresh food, baked goods, and even a strawberry plant? We travel with our own kitchen box of pans and my chef knives, stay at extended stay type places with mini kitchens, and eat fresh and gourmet most every night.
Today we did a studio performance and interview at KRSN radio in Los Alamos, New Mexico, but that’s for next weeks blog. Which will be shorter. I promise.
CONTEST ALERT: If you spot Coco & Lafe at your market, take your picture with them, email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org (don’t forget to include the location of the photo!), and you’ll be featured on our blog!