Organizers hopeful farmers market will grow

By Shondiin Silversmith
Navajo Times

TSAILE, Ariz., September 6, 2012

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(Times Times photo – Shondiin Silversmith)

TOP: Farmer Charlene Nakai from Red Valley, Ariz., was one of the vendors during the Diné College farmers market over the weekend. Nakai, second from right, sold her kneel down bread.

THIRD FROM TOP: Ida Yazzie goes through the process of making blue corn mush over the weekend during the Diné College farmers market.

T he farmers market that took place over the weekend at Diné College did not have many farmers, but organizers of the event said despite the small number good things are ahead.

Dana Eldridge, a coordinator of the event, said, "It's really good for the people. We were hoping for more vendors but people aren't accustomed to farmers markets."

This reporter counted a total of four. One of the vendors was Charlene Nakai, of Red Valley, Ariz.

Nakai, who has been farming for 10 years, woke up early Sunday morning and went straight to her garden to pick her best looking squash.

"I'm self-employed and this is how I make my money, selling my produce," she said.

Nakai said her blue harbor squash was the first to go from her table.

Of how many benefit from a market such as this, Nakai said, "A home cooked meal is healthier than fast food."

As framers and community members alike gathered for the market, the heat was the last thing on anyone's mind as live entertainment and traditional food demonstrations took place throughout the day.

Deanna Wauneka, from Lukachukai, Ariz., said it felt good to have the choice of either buying fresh fruits or vegetables from local farmers or going to the grocery store.

"I wanted to see what people were selling," she said. "It's a way for them (farmers) not to waste their harvest because they can share it with us."

Tsaile residents Ray Redhorse Jr. and Emma Yazzie both set up a booth to sell their squash, corn and potatoes. In addition, they sold hand-made moccasins, hair ties, cedar bags, and arts and crafts.

Redhorse said the market is something good for Tsaile, especially if it starts to grow.

Yazzie said she has been gardening for the past three years and she never thought she would sell her produce.

"It was just for my family," she said. "Today I thought I would bring some and everything is fresh.

Demonstrating how to make traditional foods was Ida Yazzie from Chinle, Ariz.

Her first demonstration was showing how to make blue corn mush. Samples of Yazzie's blue corn mush was handed out to the audience.

Yazzie said she's proud that a local farmers market has been established.

"They need to learn how to use traditional foods," she said referring to the public.

Yazzie said when she presents on traditional foods, she sticks to the four basic traditional food groups: corn meal, fish, meat and vegetables.

Of the entired event, Edlridge added, "It's a starting point for the Navajo Nation. It's small now but we can really go somewhere with this."

The market will continue every other Sunday.

Information: (928) 724-6647.

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