“With a clear path for re-payment, taking out a loan made the most sense for the market.”
October 9, 2019
Who doesn’t love more shade in Tucson? A loan from Growth Partners Arizona means the nonprofit Heirloom Farmers Markets (HFM) can quickly add 25% more shade at their Rillito River Park location. A fourth shaded pavilion makes vendors and customers happier, and the loan makes HFM happy because it allows the growing organization to preserve capital.
“We had several options,” says HFM Director of Operations Nick Szumowski. “Use cash, raise philanthropic funds, incorporate debt, or some combination. With a clear path for re-payment, taking out a loan made the most sense for the market at this time.”
Heirloom Farmers Markets now has thousands of customers attending five markets every week that feature carefully selected farms and vendors whose access to these customers means they can earn a living for themselves and their families. From five participating farms in its first year, HFM now features 30 local farmers/growers and 300 vendors.
Support for vendors includes workshops to help promote their businesses, which contributes to early growth and success. Local companies that got their start at the market include Tucson Tamale Company, Adventure Coffee Company, Tumerico, Maya Tea Company, Gluten-Free Gourmet Girls, Fermented Tea Company, Yellow Brick Coffee Company, Fiamme Pizza, Enjoy-a-Bowls Food Truck, and Tortillas by Che West.
In addition to delicious food options, the markets are fun, build a sense of community and contribute to a thriving local, healthy food scene. If you don’t know what you want or need, Taste of the Market, a weekly food literacy program sponsored by Arizona Complete Health, offers information about what’s available and a market ambassador sponsored by Rillito Park Foundation is available to chat.
The customer base is varied and includes people with low incomes because HFM actively participates in the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Double Up Food Bucks Arizona (DFBA), and the Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program (FMNP).
Partners come to weekly farmers markets to reach an audience that cares about supporting local, connecting with their community, and eating healthy good food. They include UA Master Gardeners, Tucson Village Farm, Rillito Park Foundation, Watershed Management, and WorkAbility.
HFM’s annual festivals highlight seasonal and locally grown foods, with a direct benefit to local farmers. Some of these events include The Roasted Chile Festival, Citrus Jubilee, Earth Day Celebration, and Quench Fest. HFM, together with Arizona Complete Health, also offer the annual Healthy Living Expo, which offers visitors chef demos, healthcare services, community health partners.
“We’re pleased that the Growth Partners loan to Heirloom Farmers Markets will have such a ripple effect,” says GPAz Executive Director Lesli Pintor. “Vendors, customers, nonprofit partners, and corporate supporters of the markets will all benefit.”
No photo credit on construction photo. Larry’s Vegetables photo credit: Kerry Whelan