HILDALE — Since launching about two months ago, the “Local Farmers Market on the Border of Arizona and Utah” has seen increasing interest from the public and is reigniting a sense of connection within the community amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Darlene Stubbs, who organized the farmers market, told St. George News that she started the event as a way to bring people together.
“It gives the community something to do on Saturdays, especially right now,” she said. “I know a lot of people have gardens and are super crafty, and this gives them the opportunity to go out and showcase their craft, make a little money and support the local economy.”
Stubbs said she is grateful to Cherish Families, a nonprofit advocacy program, for sponsoring the farmers market.
“They have culturally competent employees … (who) are always looking for ways to get involved and support each other.”
The farmers market runs every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon and will continue until outside temperatures get too cold, Stubbs said.
The vendors vary weekly, and in addition to homegrown fruits and vegetables, the market has offered everything from homemade spaghetti sauce, salsa, breads and salad dressings to crocheted clothing. Visitors can also enjoy cotton candy, green drinks and snow cones. Last Saturday they had 12 vendors.
“I am so impressed with the community just showing up and participating,” Stubbs said.
Regular vendors Janet Zitting and her husband Lorin Zitting started selling microgreens about a month ago at the farmers market and told St. George News that it was the pandemic that sparked inspiration to grow the crops.
“I feel like it was intuition that kind of guided me to it,” Lorin Zitting said. “When March hit I just started doing this. It wasn’t that I felt like I should be doing this or I got really excited – I just started doing it.”
He said people are likely in need of the extra nutrition right now, adding that microgreens are up to 40 times as nutritious as the full-grown plant.
Since the Zittings started selling at the farmers market about a month ago, they’ve been staying busy.
“We’ve sold out every time,” he said.
The product the Zittings are selling at the market is unique, he said, as microgreens are commonly thought of as a garnish only chefs use.
“What we do is look for the microgreens based on their nutrient content – vitamins and minerals,” he said. “We do a mix that makes it affordable for people to get a pretty good size quantity.”
Currently, they are selling a 32-ounce container for $10. The mix varies weekly depending on the harvest. All crops are organic and watered with purified water, he said.
The Zittings use their own greenhouse to grow the microgreens, and since they started working with microgreens in March, they have had to perfect their craft.
“I had a lot of failed crops and failed experiments, and I had to tune everything. After getting healthy crops, that’s when I started selling at the farmers market,” he said.
Being a part of the farmers market is very fulfilling but also hard work. Zitting said they are only getting two to four hours of sleep on the weekends because they are harvesting through the night so the crops are fresh in the morning. Despite the lack of sleep, he said they feel grateful to be able to serve the community by providing these vital nutrients.
But seeing people come together is the true joy.
“That’s what I’ll really miss about the farmers market if it doesn’t continue through the winter: just running into random people and having conversations,” he said.
The farmers market is located in the parking lot of Carquest Auto Parts store, across the street from the Border Store. Art and Jerusha Jeffs, the owners of Carquest, have offered the community to use their parking lot for the farmers market as a way to give back.
Art Jeffs told St. George News that over the past couple months, he’s watched the farmers market double in visitors and that this is something they have needed in their community for quite some time.
“I just think it’s a good idea to let people know what we have to offer out here,” he said. “We just needed someone like Darlene to grab it and organize it. We’re starting to really see some growth in our community as a whole. I’m really excited about it.”
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