Market aims to grow food-based small businesses

Local farmers are welcome to sell goods at park
2011-12-29T00:00:00Z Market aims to grow food-based small businessesA.E. Araiza Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
December 29, 2011 12:00 am  • 

Out of a need to "have something to do," George Wyckoff, a retired Sierra Vista restaurateur, now has a full plate - and it's about to get bigger.

Wyckoff, who operates Grammy's Garden in Cochise, raises produce that he takes to the farmers markets at Jesse Owens Park, St. Philip's Plaza and Oro Valley Town Hall.

Currently, he is providing lettuce, green beans and broccoli himself but he also takes to the market four to five types of tomatoes plus bell peppers, chiles, eggplants, potatoes and more from other growers.

It all started after he retired from his business, the Egg Pan Restaurant in Sierra Vista, 15 years ago and realized he needed something to do.

"I bought a greenhouse and grew tomatoes," he said.

After his wife quit her job, they found they needed more things to grow, so that meant more greenhouses.

"If you grow one thing," he said, "you realize you need to grow more."

When he operated his restaurant he offered preserves to his customers, he said.

So, after heavy demand from his old customers, he began commercially canning preserves four to five years ago.

He offers 37 different jams and seven jellies at the farmers markets he attends.

His biggest sellers are the pineapple habanero, peach habanero and mango habanero jams, he said.

He also has pickled items that include five different types of pickles along with okra, Brussels sprouts, onions, mushrooms, carrots, and cauliflower plus sweet and Southwestern corn relish.

And, if that is not enough, he is starting another business, called Grouchey's and Family, where he will be serving breakfast at the Jesse Owens Park Farmers' Market from a fully equipped kitchen inside a truck.

"It's at the request of my daughter. It's her idea," he said, shaking his head.

He intends to roll out his new business the first part of February, Wyckoff said.

All this fits into the overall idea Roxanne Garcia, the coordinator for Tucson Farmers' Market, has for the market at Jesse Owens.

"I support small farms and the growers and I want to help them develop small businesses," she said.

The purpose of the market is to promote small businesses that are food-based, Garcia said.

Garcia's vision for 2012 is a greater demand for fresher food.

"People are getting sick from preservatives in our food and they are looking for fresher food," she said.

The farmers market is the place to go for those kinds of products, Garcia said.

"When you have people who want fresh food and people who want to grow it, it creates an interesting and dynamic relationship."

If you go

• What: Eastside Tucson Farmers' Market

• When: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fridays

• Where: Jesse Owens Park, 400 S. Sarnoff Drive

• Cost: Free to attend

Contact A.E. Araiza at aaraiza@azstarnet.com or 954-4631.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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