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Viewpoint: Downtown Phoenix now has the real deal

[Source: Arizona Republic editorial board] — A hallmark of a flourishing, mature metropolis is when it begins spawning institutions reflecting local culture.  A glitzy mall is great, but a funky, thriving Mill Avenue in Tempe is something unique the locals can cherish. It is fun, busy and ours.

The same is true of a central “farmers market” dedicated to local produce. Virtually all major urban centers have a market featuring locally grown produce, baked goods, meats and dairy products.  Until recently, all Phoenix could muster was a part-time farmers market where local producers huddled against the elements in tents. Now, it has the real deal.

The Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery and Wine Bar opened last week with fragrant, organic Arizona-grown produce in abundance.  It offers a charming, multiroom environment at 14 E. Pierce St., the first permanent market to open its doors in the central city in 30 years.

The market is the realization of a long-time dream of Director Cindy Gentry and the board of the Community Food Connections, the non-profit group that raised $530,000 to make it happen.  Their persistence and determination is admirable.  And, if the enormous crowds from Saturday are any indication, they are prescient, as well.  Metro Phoenix desperately needed a market like this, and it is gratifying to see it come to pass.

The co-op-like Phoenix Public Market, which operates in front of the permanent market along North Central Avenue near Fillmore, will continue as before on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Meanwhile, the permanent store will be open Tuesdays through Saturdays.  The market has been a long time coming.  With luck and quality local products, it will be there for a long time to come.

New downtown Phoenix grocery market off and running

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Phoenix Public Market now open for business (Photo: KTAR)

[Source: Sadie Jo Smokey, Arizona Republic] — The wait is over.  The first grocery store to open in downtown Phoenix in nearly 30 years is celebrating with sales, raffles, a silent auction and $45-per-person happy hour 5:30-7:30 p.m. today with Arizona wines and beer and light appetizers by Valley chefs.  The Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery and Wine Bar opened at 14 E. Pierce St. this week to busy lunch crowds, curious downtown employees, Arizona State students, and neighborhood residents.

Laurie Wistuver of El Mirage walked over on her lunch break.  She picked up a package of pasta for dinner.  “It reminds me of a co-op from when I lived in Oregon,” Wistuver said.  “Higher-quality products that are fresh, organic.  I like the breads and stuff. It’s a nice atmosphere.”

Shoppers craving locally grown or made-in-Arizona goods, from organic vegetables to wines and cheeses, no longer have to wait for the weekly farmers market to get their fill of lumpy squash, pungent bouquets of basil, bags of ugly tomatoes, a dozen free-range eggs or a loaf of rustic, multigrain artisan bread.  The urban grocery will provide all that, supports say.  Cindy Gentry, Community Food Connections director, said the grocery store is the next step for a movement that supports local farms and Arizona growers and producers that use fresh, seasonal ingredients and sustainable practices.  “I want this to be a real place where you can do your grocery shopping,” Gentry said.  [Note: Read the full article at New downtown Phoenix grocery market off and running.]

More (food, coffee, wine) coming to Downtown Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery

[Source: Jonathan McNamara, Phoenix New Times] — ​The folks behind the the Downtown Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery & Wine Bar set their sights pretty high, and they plan on being more than a grocery store.  It will be a permanent home to the farmers market (721 N. Central Avenue), as well as a coffee shop, wine bar, and community kitchen.

Royal Coffee Bar will open an outpost at the new market.  The building has a separate side entrance for the coffee bar, which will keep separate hours from the rest of the market (7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday).  There’s a spot laid out for seating and relaxing, in case folks don’t want to get their coffee and run.  Expect cool, reclaimed material here like wooden floors from an old Arizona farmhouse, and Edison-era light bulbs.  [Note: Read the full article at More (food, coffee, wine) coming to Downtown Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery.]

Store tied to popular downtown Phoenix public market expected to open in August

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Interior work underway at downtown Phoenix Public Market (photo: Jack Kurtz, Arizona Republic)

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — Attention shoppers! The first grocery store to open in downtown Phoenix in nearly 30 years is taking shape. On a recent afternoon, a crew worked on plumbing and electrical systems for the 2,000-square-foot store, which is expected to open sometime in August. Soon they will bring in refrigerated cases, ovens and other kitchen equipment, said Alan McLaughlin, the store’s general manager.  “We will source everything local,” he said, including meat, milk and cheese.  “This will be a hangout place in the neighborhood.”

The $475,000 project is an offshoot of the popular, biweekly Phoenix Public Market, which is run by the non-profit Community Food Connections.  Downtown Phoenix residents hungered for a grocery store for decades.  The last supermarket in the neighborhood south of Interstate 10 closed in 1981.  Community Food Connections, which raised $375,000 to open the store, is in the process of raising the remaining $100,000, spokeswoman Catrina Knoebl said.

The 4-year-old farmers market and the grocery store are part of the Phoenix Public Market. The shop will be known as the Phoenix Public Market Urban Grocery & Wine Bar, Knoebl added.  The store will be open from Tuesday to Saturday and will carry prepared food and wine, and it will have a cafe.  Royal Coffee Bar, the trendy coffeehouse near the Maricopa County court complex, will serve java there.  Local food will be the focus, McLaughlin said.

Farmers markets in metro Phoenix keep cool

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Steve Weiss presents Cindy Gentry of Community Food Connections a contribution of some "cool cash" on behalf of the Downtown Voices Coalition.

[Source: Diana Balazs, Arizona Republic] — Valley farmers markets have come up with cool ways to keep their ventures open during the long hot summer.  They start early, drape shade cloth over aisles, and [some] set up misting systems…

The 4-year-old downtown Phoenix Public Market run by Community Food Connections operates throughout the year, rain or shine, said Cindy Gentry, Community Food Connections director.  The market is open from 4 to 8 p.m.  Wednesdays and 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays at the southeastern corner of Central Avenue and McKinley Street.  “We have produce year-round.  Our goal is to increase access to healthy foods and to keep farmers on the land,” Gentry said.

She said customers do not mind the heat and enjoy buying locally produced goods.  “There is a sense of community and creativity and openness.  I always feel like what we’re trying to do is set the table and invite people in,” she said.

Shade cloths cover the aisles, and portable coolers are used to offset the heat.  “We figure out ways.  Some of them aren’t the most graceful or the most beautiful.  We like to say our produce is always fresh, but maybe our farmer’s aren’t,” Gentry joked.  For a list of farmers markets throughout the Valley, click here.   [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Downtown Phoenix Public Market says thank you!

downtown-phoenix-public-market-mixerThe April 22nd networking mixer at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market has come and gone, and the fine folks in this photo representing the sponsoring organizations, say thank you to the hundreds of people who came out to enjoy live music, great food, and camaraderie. The primary goal of the event was to help raise awareness and support for the market’s growth and “bricks and mortar” expansion.

Sponsors were: Arizona Green Chamber of Commerce, Arizona Small Business Association, Community Food Connections, Downtown Voices Coalition, Local First Arizona, Phoenix Business Journal, and Valley Forward.

For more information about the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, click here.

Downtown Phoenix Public Market touts its success

According to this promotional video, the Downtown Phoenix Public Market is growing in a whole new direction, with plans for a six-day-a-week market shop in a vintage downtown building.

After nearly 30 years, downtown Phoenix gets a grocery

[Source: Jahna Berry, Arizona Republic] — After nearly 30 years without a grocery store, downtown Phoenix will get one as early as June.  The non-profit that runs a popular weekend farmers market has secured $305,000 to open a 4,000-square-foot shop at 14 E. Pierce St., the group will announce today.  The store will be open five days a week and will sell produce, dairy, eggs, prepared foods, wine and beer, said Cindy Gentry, executive director of Community Food Connections.  The biweekly Downtown Phoenix Pubic Market will remain open.

A key loan came from the non-profit Phoenix Industrial Development Authority.  The farmers market group needs an additional $170,000 for startup expenses, but the authority’s $250,000 will allow renovations to start. “In these difficult times, the efforts of the Public Market and the outlet it creates for small business is needed more than ever,” Don Keuth, the Phoenix authority’s president.  The last grocery store to serve Phoenix’s downtown core, the area south of Interstate 10, closed in 1981.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Downtown groups invite public to Public Market holiday festivities, Dec. 10

Chef Elizabeth[Source: Phoenix Chamber of Commerce] — In the spirit of the season, join the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Phoenix Partnership, and City of Phoenix Mayor’s Office at the Downtown Phoenix Public Market, a program of Community Food Connections.  Come enjoy some music, art, food, local boutiques, live performances, and best of all, the Downtown Phoenix Public Market.

  • Date: December 10, 2008
  • Time: 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Place: Downtown Phoenix Market
  • Cost: Free
  • Register: Click here

Arizona, Phoenix face shortage of locally grown food

[Source: Jessica Stephenson, Special for The Republic] — Farmers markets are budding all over Arizona, but there are not enough farmers to meet the needs of all of the Arizonans hungry for local, organic food. The craze for organic and local food has brought about 21 farmers markets into the Valley, but Dee Logan, senior coordinator for Arizona Community Farmers Markets, says the demand for farmers greatly outweighs the actual number of direct-market farmers — those who sell produce directly to the buyer. Logan said the markets that customers want across the Valley cannot be created until Arizona has more direct-market farmers. “We need to grow farmers, and we need to grow growers before we expand too much more,” Logan said.

Cindy Gentry, executive director of Community Food Connections, a non-profit group trying to alleviate hunger and develop food sufficiency for low-income households, says she gets five calls a day from people requesting more farmers markets. However, the work required of direct-market farmers is too great to meet the demand. Several factors prevent the development of more direct-market farmers, such as the effort required to produce organic food that customers seek, Gentry said. Zoning laws make it difficult for commercial and residential land to be converted back to farmland. Also, market farmers sell directly to the public, and this requires more marketing expertise, which conventional farmers may lack. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Downtown Phoenix Public Market: Seasonal produce from local growers. Specialty foods, including breads, pastries, pasta, free-range eggs, salsa, and more. Details: 4-8 p.m. Wednesdays; 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays. 721 N. Central Ave. website.