“Eating is an agricultural act” –Wendell Berry
By James Bishop, Jr. who is raising corn and beans in uptown Sedona
Sedona, AZ (May 21, 2011) – Up at Sedona Farmers Market near the airport last year, a local businessman was visibly annoyed. “There’s something wrong with these eggs,” he blurted to Dennis Coon, a legendary egg-man from Camp Verde. “The yokes are yellow, not like grayish supermarket kind, I am used to.” With a smile, Coon replied “that means they are fresh.”
Due to the tireless efforts of Katrin Themitz, and propelled by a groundswell of citizen support, more and more people have discovered the joys of fresh food which soon will be in even greater abundance. The Sedona Community Farmers Market is spreading its wings to Relics Restaurant starting May 26, and every Thursday thereafter from 3:30 to 7pm, then every Sunday at Tlaquepaque starting Sunday July 3rd, 8-11am.
Says she: “From the blue oceans to the desert of the southwest…I fell in love with the wide open spaces, blue skies and the land—it’s a different kind of ocean…” Indeed, there were rough waters when she began.
As for the value of her leadership, “She is building community and reminding us that we don’t dare depend for much longer on Chile and Mexico as we do for most of our food today,” remarks Bennie Blake, longtime activist and teacher. “That’s unsustainable.”
Agrees Maddy O’Callaghan, long-time resident and chair of The Friends of the Posse Grounds. “What if trucks stop coming bringing our food from far away? Having access to local food will then give meaning to that otherwise vague word—sustainability. For our health and security we’d better return to community-based food—and as fast as glaciers are melting in the Arctic.”
For her part, Linda Gray, a bread maker from Page Springs who gathers crowds at the Sedona market offers a different perspective. “Sure the market is about fresh food. But it’s also about people who come from all over the place—Flagstaff to Prescott—to support Katrin and us we who grow, plant and bake—that’s community.”
Just a few generations ago, Verde Valley farms fed thousands of people in northern Arizona, that is until the supermarkets arrived. Now these values appear to be reemerging. Sweeping through the area are the winds of those old-time days, fanning the desire for more local food that connects local residents with local growers and supports them, energized by certain irrefutable facts: Food is our most basic tie to the land. Our bodies live better with the foods that are grown where we are say many local chefs. And guess what? Some of our chain markets are offering more fresh food, too while growers are finding more outlets—and more good news is on the horizon sparked by classes organized by Themitz on June 6th, 7th and 8th in Dewey.
“Are you the one…the farm market, the growers,” asked the excited lady on the telephone. “Well. Yes I am,” replied Themitz, the lanky former deep ocean sailor whose grandmother traces family roots to a working farm in East Prussia, 300 years ago. “Well then, I love you. This is thing I’ve been waiting for 20 years, it is the best thing.”
Entering the third year of her flourishing creation, Themitz looks back on a rough start with the city of Sedona over where she could locate Sedona’s first farmers market, and what signs would be allowed. Too, there were doubters. Would enough people who promise to think locally would actually eat locally; that’s all history now that the two grand openings are coming up. Themitz, a part-time realtor, schooled in Europe and the U.S. the only woman who has crossed the North Sea on one of the original J-Class yachts has had a bee in her bonnet about such a market for a while. “When I visited Marin County in California, I was intrigued by the proliferation of farmers markets. I said to myself, ‘we can do it here in Sedona, too.’”
In her strong, silent adventurous way, in the words of Meditation Magnate Sarah Mclean, Katrin Themitz knows there’s still a long road to travel before durable relations can be built between farmers/growers and local restaurants. So toward that end she is launching a campaign to show more growers how become certified to legally sell their produce to them. Her class in Dewey on June 6th, 7th and 8th is the first step for growers to become what the Department of Agriculture calls a Certified Approved Food Source. “When all the legal details are ironed out,” she sums up, “Verde Valley growers will be able to meet the growing demand at local restaurants for locally grown, freshly-farmed produce.”
Concludes Phyllis Cline at her Heartline Café, “Good news, the sooner the better.”