Downtown Flagstaff on a Sunday morning is typically bustling with families, friends and most of all, farmers. The Flagstaff Farmer's Market is a weekly event that begins in May and ends Oct. 21. From 8 a.m. to noon every Sunday, the market is hosted outside of Flagstaff City Hall. It supports over 85 different vendors that include local farmers and artisans of Arizona.
For many of the vendors, their businesses are a family affair that has been part of their lives for as long as they can remember. Beekeeper for Sweet Sting Honey Adam Arp said his honey company is the epitome of a family business.
“My dad did it, and I kind of grew up doing it,'' Arp said. "We get all our honey from Arizona. We have bees here now, and then further in the year we move them to the desert."
Finding locally sourced products is something that is very important to those who frequent markets like the one in Flagstaff.
The honey harvesting process requires extreme diligence, and Arp said it's definitely a full-time gig because they are constantly making trips to their different locations.
"We take honey off and bring it home to extract it, bottle it and then move the bees out somewhere else and restart the same process,” Arp said. “There’s a lot that goes into it upfront to just have the honey available in a jar, but you also spend a lot of time earlier in the year just moving bees.”
The Arp family also sells their Sweet Sting Honey in several stores and wholesale locations, but Arp said the Flagstaff Farmer's Market is the only farmers market they attend during the year.
Similar to Arp, brothers Marcus and Sam Williams also travel to Flagstaff to be part of the farmer's market. The Williams brothers help run their family’s fishing business, WillBros Salmon Co., which has been based out of Bristol Bay, Alaska since 1967. They ship most of their catch down to southwestern states such as Arizona.
“[My brother and I] have been doing it since we were 6 months old — going up to Alaska and being out there on the water," Marcus said. "Once we were old enough to walk and carry a fish they’d put us to work, and we loved it."
Marcus said he and his brother are third generation fishermen and businessmen within their family. They fish directly out of the ocean close to shore and use nets the size of a football field to catch the fish. Marcus said they caught 250 pounds of salmon last year.
Despite the common thread of their businesses running in the family, Arp and the Williams brothers provide very different products to the people and visitors of Flagstaff during their time at the market.
The market is filled with a variety of different products, from food to jewelry. Michelle Shaw is an artisan and owner of the jewelry company Victorian Folly. Shaw said she loves markets like the Flagstaff Farmer's Market.
“They’re my bread and butter," Shaw said. "I love interacting with people, creating relationships and seeing when frequent buyers come back.”
Shaw described her products as vintage, handmade jewelry. She uses keys to make rings, necklaces, bracelets and cufflinks. Shaw said her inspiration for her line of products began with going to a comic convention years before. She noticed men in steampunk outfits and women in corsets and large skirts. Shaw went home that night and began piecing together ideas for different jewelry designs because she had previously done beadwork in the 80s. The unique ideas Shaw expresses through her jewelry tend to draw an artistic and intrigued crowd to her booth at the market.
Another artisan Dino Tonn is a newcomer to the Flagstaff Farmer'smarket scene. Tonn creates art from reclaimed and repurposed items to create items such as lamps or sculptures.
"We got started because I love to tinker around in the garage, and I love to [go antiquing],” Tonn said.
Tonn started collecting unique items at antique stores before finally deciding to do something with them. He then put his creative abilities to the test and began making lamps out of the antique items he had acquired. Although he and his wife have only been tinkering with repurposed items for a year, Tonn said it’s already working out great for them.
Overall, he said they’ve had a great response. Many people have even offered to give them objects to work with. He said he feels his art has a place to shine at the market.
Food, jewelry and recycled art are not the only things sold at the market. Even plants can find their place. Plant enthusiast Shirley Strong from Parks, Arizona has chosen to bring a small portion of her succulents to display at the market alongside the other vendors.
Strong explained how she grows different types of succulents to sell. The more durable ones can handle the outdoors, while the delicate ones grow inside her home.
"It's pretty crowded by the end of the season," Strong said.
Fred Wong and his wife Tina own Wong’s Family Farm in Camp Verde, Arizona. The couple made the trip to Flagstaff to put their products on display. Wong’s Farm, like many of the previously mentioned vendors, is family operated. Wong said that he has been farming for about 20 years.
“I first got interested in [farming] when I would go over to my friend’s house because he had a few trees and a vegetable garden," Wong said. "He’d give us some of his produce and fruit, and I said, 'You know, that’d be nice, to grow your own stuff, eat it and give it to your friends,' which I did.”
Wong has been attending the Flagstaff Farmer's Market for almost 19 years. Him and his wife pick their produce the day before to ensure it's fresh. Wong's Farm is also a pesticide-free farm.
“It's a long process with a lot of money involved, so we just don’t spray, and everybody seems to appreciate that,” Wong said.
Overall, the Flagstaff Farmer's Market is a place where vendors of every type can come together to celebrate hard work, creativity and family values.