By Kathleen Yetman
Strolling around the Prescott Farmers Market today, it’s hard to imagine its humble beginnings 20 years ago. On August 9, 1997 the Prescott Farmers Market opened in the parking lot behind the Chamber of Commerce and Post Office in downtown Prescott. A handful of farmers and backyard gardeners attended the market the first year. The opening of this market was a turning point for small growers here in Yavapai County — not only because it provided a space for them to sell their goods to the public, but also because it allowed them to supplement each other by providing a variety of crops for customers. The increase in sales allowed farmers to expand their production and, in return, the market itself grew.
In the beginning, the market was run by a single seasonal, part-time market manager with support from many volunteers. In 1998 the market moved to Goodwin Street, then Cortez and in 2005 relocated to Yavapai College. In 2007, the Prescott Farmers Market opened two new markets in Chino Valley and Prescott Valley to increase access to local food in those communities. In 2014, it expanded to become a year-round market in response to farmers’ ability to grow food even in the dead of winter.
Today, the Prescott Farmers Market is a nonprofit organization running two year-round markets in Prescott and Prescott Valley and a summer market in Chino Valley. We employ four part-time staff. At the peak of the summer season, we host more than 50 vendors with an incredible variety of locally grown crops. The Prescott market has been recognized nationally as one of the best farmers markets in the country. As a nonprofit, we do more than what customers see on Saturdays including teaching gardening and nutrition to school children, educating customers about everything food at the market and providing professional development for Yavapai County farmers and ranchers.
As a vital part of the economy, the mission of Prescott Farmers Market is to support and expand local agriculture, cultivate a healthy community and increase access to affordable local food. The Greater Prescott Area can be proud of this homegrown organization as it turns 20 this month. We’ll will continue to grow for the community — always with farmers leading the way.
The Prescott Farmers Market is 7:30 a.m.-noon Saturdays at Yavapai College, parking lot D. The Chino Valley Market is 3-6 p.m. Thursdays at Olsen’s Grain parking lot. Find out more at PrescottFarmersMarket.Org.
Kathleen Yetman is the executive director of the Prescott Farmers Market and a native of Prescott.