Farmers’ market offers more than freshness

By Ryn Gargulinski: Quay County Sun

Tucumcari Farmers’ Market Manager Bobbie DeFoor said it’s her apple butter that drives folks wild — although she admits the fresh tomatoes may be equally compelling.

And those are just two of the items usually available at the annual market held on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 5 p.m. until all fresh produce is sold in Wailes Park, off of Route 66 and Date Street.

DeFoor said the market also includes onions, squash, fresh eggs, Mexican calabicita — a round, buttery squash — jellies, jams and fresh-baked bread, pies and other niblets. Seasonal additions include watermelons and cucumbers. A bushel of candy corn is expected today from Clovis.

And yes, the tomatoes. “If you are used to eating those little red globes they sell at the supermarket, you are just going to love these fresh tomatoes,” she said.

Tucumcari’s Ellen Shankle, a regular customer at the market most Saturdays, said the round, red delicacies are at the top of her list of scrumptious produce, although she quickly admits she is fond of it all.

“I’ve gone to the market for several years now,” Shankle said of the market’s eight-year stint. “I look forward to it when it’s time for the growers to start selling.”

Prices, DeFoor said, are reasonable. “Of course if you’re the only man on the market, you can name your price,” she said. “It’s not always cheaper than the supermarket but it’s picked the same day it’s sold.” She said one cannot compete with the freshness of the produce, which is all grown locally or from adjacent counties.

DeFoor, who has been assisting with the market for five years and is on her debut year of managing, said it’s more than just a place to buy cucumbers.

She is especially impressed by the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program that distributes coupons that can only be used at the market for fresh produce.

“It’s a way of introducing young mothers with young children to using fresh vegetables,” she said.

DeFoor also enjoys Customer Appreciation Day, held near the end of every season, where drawings are held for a bushel of fresh vegetables.

Money permitting, the Farmers’ Market also has live bluegrass music and DeFoor made the market more amusing by once bringing her pet goat Amy to get milked.
Shankle, too, said the market gives her more than fresh produce. When asked if people also socialize, she said “Sure you do — you stand in line and fight for the tomatoes.”