Growing in popularity

Navajos getting reacquainted with farmers’ markets

Woman sits in shade with garden items for sale on table.

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
Squash and salsa dot the table of Virginia Clark during the Farmer’s Market in Cornfields, Arizona, Aug 9.


Time was, about the only place you could buy vegetables on the Navajo Nation, if you didn’t grow them yourself, was from your friendly neighborhood farmer.

Then along came trading posts and later grocery stores, and today, “People don’t really understand what farmers markets are all about,” said Cheryl Willie, a community health worker with Tséhootsooi Medical Center.

Luckily she and her colleague Deidre Greyeyes, public information officer with the center, were on hand to explain the concept to anyone who was the least bit confused at the farmers market held at Cornfields Chapter last Wednesday.

Also at the market were eight college interns, entertainer Roxanna Harvey and moccasin maker Damien Begay. Unfortunately, the presenters and a handful of sellers far outnumbered customers, at least around noon when the Times arrived.

Bright green and yellow vegetables form a pattern in a basket.

Navajo Times | Adron Gardner
Squash and zucchini overflow from a basket on the vendor table of Virginia Clark during the Farmer’s Market in Cornfields, Arizona, Aug 9.

This fact did not seem to discourage the Tsehootsooí people in the slightest.

“Carol (Palmer, one of the founders of the Gallup Farmers Market and the Tséhootsooí gals’ guru) said it would take a while to get off the ground,” Willie said.

Actually, this summer’s previous three markets went pretty well. Steamboat and Greasewood each attracted about 35 attendees, according to Willie, and she estimated Ganado’s crowd at 70.

In case you’re among the aforementioned people unfamiliar with the concept of farmers markets, they are literally that — a place for growers to sell their excess produce.

Sellers generally pay a minimal fee (this particular market was not only free but gave the sellers a chalkboard sign to describe their wares and attractive baskets to display them) for a booth, and some farmers markets, like this one, also feature arts, crafts and entertainment.

Being as this one was sponsored by a hospital, there was also a health fair going on inside the chapter house.

So why would a hospital sponsor a farmers market? Greyeyes and Willie are thrilled that you asked.

Consuming fruits and vegetables, is, of course, one of the best ways to get healthy, Willie noted, and ultra-fresh, locally grown, probably organic vegetables are just the best of the best.

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Categories: Community

About Author

Cindy Yurth

Cindy Yurth is the Tséyi' Bureau reporter, covering the Central Agency of the Navajo Nation. Her other beats include agriculture and Arizona state politics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technical journalism from Colorado State University with a cognate in geology. She has been in the news business since 1980 and with the Navajo Times since 2005, and is the author of “Exploring the Navajo Nation Chapter by Chapter.” She can be reached at