While most of the nation is buried under snow and ice, we Phoenicians are finally able to enjoy the simple things, like wearing socks and being outdoors without fear of frying.
One thing many of us take for granted is our ability to get great local fruits and vegetables during our mild winter months. In the Great White North (as we like to think of anything north of Prescott) farmers markets are forced into hibernation during the winter -- but in Phoenix, they thrive. Here's a list of great local folks to check out next time you're at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market.
Golo Family Organic Farms Citrus (and more)
The Golo Family has an amazing story to tell. Originally from Liberia, Jawn and James Golo (along with their five children) spent fifteen years in a refugee camp in Ghana after their home was destroyed by rebels. In the refugee camp, they learned to gather edible leaves, fruits, and roots to barter for extra food rations. The Golos eventually were granted refugee status and emigrated to Goodyear, AZ, where they have taken up organic farming.
The Golo Family Organic Farms booth doesn't have much by way of signage, but Jawn and James are outgoing friendly folks who have become market favorites for their ripe pink and white grapefruit, oranges, sweet beets, and gigantic easter egg radishes.
One Windmill Farms Fresh Herbs and Root Veggies
When we stopped by One Windmill Farm's booth this weekend they had already sold out of our late-fall favorites, brussels sprouts and broccoli. But don't worry; they had many colorful carrots, fresh oregano and basil, fat beets, and hearty eggplants to make up for it. Dave Scott of One Windmill says that they are expecting their cauliflower crop to be ready for harvest in the coming weeks, and that they plan to keep a steady supply of heirloom tomatoes and peppers through the winter thanks to their trusty greenhouse. Scott says the higher elevation and good soil in Willcox (where One Windmill keeps their greenhouses) are to thank for these late season crops.
Sun Valley Bees Honey
Okay, honey isn't technically produce. But it's delicious and environmentally important, and whenever we can support great local beekeepers, we do. Sun Valley Bees' beekeeper, John Ciurdar, keeps his hives at 75th Avenue and Broadway, and offers royal jelly, honeycomb, and propolis, in ddition to three varieties of honey. The sweetest of these is the Orange Blossom; the mesquite is a bit milder. Our favorite was the wildflower honey, which was floral and a bit spicy, and apparently is great for seasonal allergies.
Mojo Tree Farms Pichuberry Fruit and Juice
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Mojo Tree isn't growing Pichuberries for production in Arizona just yet, but they are in the process of doing so. For now, they are importing these Peruvian "superfruits" from Colombia, and retailing bottled juices and fresh pichuberries at the Phoenix Public Market. These berries are similar in appearance to a groundcherry or gooseberry. The fruits grow wrapped in a sticky, tomatillo-like husk, and have a tart, citric taste. Mojo Tree claims that these fruits have about three times as much protein as a papaya, and that they are high in Vitamins A, C, and D. We just liked that they came wrapped up like a little present.
Sky Hi Organic Baby Greens
Based out of Sedona, Ski-Hi had an impressive array of fresh-cut baby greens at this week's Public Market. Spicy mustard, buckwheat lettuce, wheatgrass, pea shoots - the list goes on and on. These cute little babies are extremely nutritient dense, while still being tender and tasty. Best of all, they are transported while still in the soil. Sky-Hi cuts them fresh and bags them for customers on the spot.