If you live in Tucson, and enjoy knowing where your family’s food comes from, take a drive up to the Northwest side this Sunday and visit the Tucson Farmers’ Market. You can find it nestled within St Philips Plaza, on the corner of River Rd. and Campbell, between the hours of 8am-1pm. If you have something specific in mind, arrive early, as some vendors run out of coveted items early in the day.
Lately, I have been patronizing the Sunday market at St. Phillip’s Plaza. There are many farmers’ markets to choose from in Tucson, on any given day of the week, but St. Phillip’s Plaza is a special place.
With several fountains, an Old-World Spanish feel, and upscale architecture to match, St. Phillip’s Plaza is a perfect staging ground for the delights vendors bring each weekend morning. There are two separately run markets at this location; one on Saturday mornings, and one on Sunday mornings. This author has not yet sampled the Saturday morning fare, but will report back as soon as she does!
On Sunday mornings, one may arrive and scratch their head as to where to park. There is sufficient parking provided, and it is free, but one must often search the perimeter of the plaza for a space. Do not fret, there are many entrances into the market area and you really can’t park “too far away”. Once parked, let your ears, eyes, and nose lead you in.
You will see carts and kiosks, tables and booths, all showcasing one treat or another. You may spy delectable fruits, grown in season and picked only hours or days beforehand. You’ll encounter veggies so fresh, there may still be dirt tangled in the roots. If you’re lucky, there may be ranchers in town to sell their free range, grass-fed meats, which are beyond compare. At the Tucson Farmers’ Market, you can often purchase meat from the folks at Double Check Ranch.
Another wonderful find at a Farmers’ Market is fresh dairy. Staple purchases for my family when I visit the Tucson Farmers’ Market include the cheeses produced by Rainbow Valley Nursery from a secret, generations-old family recipe,. Occasionally, we give in to the temptation of fresh quail eggs offered up by the same fine people. One can also find fresh chicken eggs from this and other farmers.
Beyond the mountain of culinary possibilities, getting out to the market allows you to quite literally visit with your neighbor. You may run across someone you know, and at the very least, people are out doing. Some on bikes or roller-blades, others walking their dogs, and others merely browsing You may find someone has staked out a spot by the fountain or on the grass, playing banjo or guitar. Dress the kids in sandals, and bring pennies, because what could be more enjoyable than splashing in the fountain, and wishing away the morning hours?
So, get up, and get out this weekend. Bring the dogs, bring the kids, bring your friends! It really is a come one, come all experience. Who doesn’t feel better knowing more about what is going in their bodies? Spending money on food is unavoidable, so take a bit of your food budget, and make the market a regular thing. Buying local just feels better. Exploring the array of goodies being offered up is like a treasure-hunt for grown-ups; then, you get to go home and cook whatever treasures you uncover! Scrumptious!