By Sohi Kang from El Inde Arizona
If you’re looking for fresh fruits, vegetables and other locally-sourced food, hop on the westbound Sun Link Tucson Modern Streetcar on Thursday and ride it until the second to last stop at 221 S. Avenida del Convento, where the Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market is held every week, hosting around 15 vendors from 4-7 p.m. throughout May.
Other than produce, the market also offers live music, fresh-baked focaccia bread, traditional Mexican churros, Salvadorian food, soaps and more.
Fresh food at a reasonable price
One purpose of the market is to provide access to food at an affordable price, according to Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market Network and Advocacy Coordinator Kassandra Montaño.
“Unlike a place like Sprouts or Whole Foods, it’s local, organic Arizona stuff,” Montaño said, who mentioned a requirement of the vendors is that their products are locally sourced.
The market accepts SNAP/EBT food stamps and AZFMNP, which offers seniors a cash-value coupon for farmer’s markets. For SNAP, the market doubles its dollars.
“So if you say I want $10, they give you $20 to spend here on the market, which will double your buying power,” vendor Adia Olguin said.
Olguin said this is especially useful as the market has a variety of food for a balanced diet, such as grains, meat and produce.
“For instance, the chicken is the same price as the store, but it’s locally grown and raised,” Olguin said. “If you would have spent $10 in the store, now you have $10 more to spend on other stuff.”
A typical day at the farmer’s market
Rachael Colasanto, the owner of Holy Focaccia, began selling her fresh-baked focaccia and sweets, like orange olive oil cake, in November.
Colasanto said she always enjoys the time and atmosphere of the market.
“[The customers] walk up to your table, they want to buy something, they’ve got a bag full of goodies from everyone, which is a great environment to be a part of,” Colasanto said. “Everyone loves to chat and catch up, and I love that about markets.”
“Everyone’s just super friendly, and everything we’ve gotten has been really fresh and has been great,” market regular Amanda Martinez said. “There’s nothing that we’ve bought that wasn’t as good as we thought it would be, or didn’t hold up in the fridge.
Martinez’s market run usually involves buying a churro at Churros Inzunza, which is her favorite vendor there.
“The churros are so good,” Martinez said. “She makes them fresh; she has gluten-free options [and] they’re vegan.”
Another regular at the market, James Terence Schelble, said he enjoys the vegetables at Desert Pearl Mushrooms and said there is no comparison between store-bought mushrooms.
“[Desert Pearl Mushrooms is] amazingly fresh and flavorful. They have unusual varieties, and they’re really not expensive,” Schelble said.
- Abundant Harvest Cooperative: Fresh produce from a “cooperative of local growers”
- Café Blessings: Fair-trade coffee
- Churros Inzunza: Traditional Mexican churros and other fried goods
- Desert Alchemist: “Wildcrafted mushrooms and herbs”
- Desert Pearl Mushrooms: Organically grown, gourmet mushrooms
- Dreamflower Garden: Sonoran Desert produce
- Forbes Meat Company: Sausages, steaks, “seasoned and grill or oven ready meats”
- High Energy Agriculture: Produce
- Holy Focaccia: Homemade focaccia
- Mission Garden: Edible native plants
- Nido Farms: Microgreens, cilantro, kale and other produce
- ORO House: Medicinal plants, baked goods, granola and produce
- Selena’s Salvadorian Food: Pupusas
- Tucson Honey Co.: Raw, natural honey
- Wolf Den Soaps: Soaps, salves, beard oil and lip balm
- YellowBird Farm: Potted plants and home decor
What to know if you go
- What: Santa Cruz River Farmers’ Market
- Where: 221 S. Avenida del Convento
- For the Sun Link Streetcar, ride the westbound streetcar until the second to last stop
- When: Thursdays, 4-7 p.m. in May; open rain or shine year-round
- Accepted payment: Cash, credit/debit, SNAP and AZFMNP