More than 20 years ago, Ms. Mesquitey and I started contemplating a move from our wonderful little homestead northwest of Tucson. On an acre and a half with a shared domestic well, we gardened, raised goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, dogs, cats, and a couple of daughters as well. The beautiful desert that surrounded us was destined to become a development called Ironwood Meadows, although the ironwoods had been salvaged and moved to another subdivision eight miles to the west. Enough! We were so outta there.
We started looking for a house and land in the Sulphur Springs Valley of Cochise County. I had big dreams. I had already spent 15 years working in nurseries and thought it would be very cool to start a wholesale nursery that specialized in upland native species. I wanted a lot of land and an agricultural well that pumped hundreds of gallons of water a minute. Oh yeah.
So we searched the flat scruffy agricultural areas of that valley for that dream. One day our hunt took us out of the Sulphur Springs Valley and close to the Chiricahua Mountains where we followed real estate signs off the blacktop highway, down a dirt road, across a creek, arriving at a closed gate with a For Sale sign attached. Beyond the gate we could see a mobile home, a large metal barn, and a domestic well. I turned to Ms. Mesquitey and said, “I think we can live with 35 gallons a minute.”
We sold our home in the Sonoran Desert and with the help of many friends, we moved to the desert grassland to live in a 1991 Marlette near the banks of the Ol’ Guajolote. And we did start a little nursery that produced native seedlings for other nurseries or agencies doing reclamation. We called our place Spadefoot and of course our slogan had to be, “We toad you to grow native.”
Meanwhile, I was still commuting to Tucson to help make ends meet. I was spending days away from the dream. But then, several years ago, two serendipitous things occurred within weeks of one another. I got a part-time job at a large wholesale nursery 25 miles from home, and our friend Valerie McCaffrey, mother of the Bisbee Farmers’ Market, told me that I should start offering Spadefoot’s native plants at the market. “Call the manager, Laura Smith, and set it up” she said. “Just do it. You’ll love it.”
I did and I do. Now on Friday afternoons, you’ll find me loading up our old pickup with homegrown native plants. Early on Saturday mornings, we rumble the 50 miles and five stop signs to the Bisbee Farmers’ Market to set up and sell. And this is where I get to chat to people about my passion. “These Emory oaks have the most edible acorns of the borderlands.” Or: “Oh my, let me tell you about this senna and how the bees that pollinate it visit your garden as well.”
But listen, passion flows from all the vendors. Local meat, local veggies, local honey, local soap, local bread, local crazy everything that comes with much chatter and you hear, “Hey, our garlic is in and Emma made some tortillas.” “Try a taste of this new cheese.” “We have goat chorizo today.”
Interesting folks come from all over to shop and jabber at the market. Leashed dogs and unleashed children scamper through the park. For us it’s a dream renewed. That’s it! That’s what Ms. Mesquitey and I found at the Bisbee Farmers’ Market, a dream renewed. So, I tell anyone who will listen: You can get everything you need at the Bisbee Farmers’ Market.
I mean, even all the children know and the dogs of Bisbee bark it:
you can get everything you need at the Bisbee Farmers’ Market.
Oh, there are lots of interesting people, and yes, it’s true,
there are men that wear dresses, and sometimes the women do, too.
Horticulture, agriculture, and permaculture can be found,
and a lot of folks with no culture at all are always hanging around.
So ride your bike, or drive your car and find a place to park it,
‘cause you can get everything you need at the Bisbee Farmers’ Market.
Even all the children know and the dogs of Bisbee bark it,
You can get everything you need at the Bisbee Farmers’ Market.
Yeah, even all the children know and the dogs of Bisbee bark it,
Bow wow, bow wow, bow wow wow wow, at the Bisbee Farmers’ Market.
Petey Mesquitey’s radio show, “Growing Native,” heard on KXCI, has celebrated the beauty of Baja Arizona for more than 22 years.