At the Grammy’s Garden stand, Sue Wyckoff greets customers with a calm smile, unruffled by the bustle of the Sunday Heirloom Farmers’ Market at Rillito Park. Wycoff started Grammy’s as a fresh produce stand 12 years ago, “with a couple greenhouses and a few tomatoes.” Six years later, she opened a commercial kitchen with equipment she had been collecting over the years and added jams, jellies, and preserves to the list.
These days, Wyckoff focuses less on growing her own produce and more on making sure the produce and products she brings to market are the very freshest, highest quality they can be. She emphasizes the importance of sourcing GMO-free, organic produce, both for her canned products and in the fresh produce she brings to market from other growers: heirloom tomatoes and assorted vegetables from BestFresh Farms, and fruit from Briggs and Eggers Orchard, both in Willcox. She keeps her prices down by picking up produce directly from her suppliers. Shoppers at Grammy’s can trust that their produce is always fresh: Wyckoff goes out on Wednesdays to gather the produce she brings to market, ensuring as short a delay as possible between the farm and her customers’ kitchens.
Taking center stage at Grammy’s are Wyckoff’s preserves, jams, and jellies. “I use everything local I can,” she says. In addition to growing some of her own produce and working with local farms, market farms, and backyard growers for the rest, she harvests prickly pear fruit and other wild produce, and sources citrus fruits from the excess harvested throughout Tucson by gleaning group Iskashitaa, which helps Wyckoff access the “amazing variety of citrus available” in and around Tucson. She keeps her ingredients simple, striving to ensure that the products she brings to market are “pure products”—cane sugar, fresh lemon juice, and GMO-free pectin, no fillers. And of course, fruit.
Wyckoff makes her jams using fresh, seasonal produce, or produce that was frozen while in season. “When I run out of peaches in my freezer, I don’t make peach preserves until next year. Fruit is seasonal, just like vegetables,” she says. The other detail that helps Grammy’s stand out from store-bought brands? Wyckoff always makes both a sweet version and a hot habañero version of her products. Wyckoff says each product is a chance for her to be creative and explore flavors, such as her Cardamom Grapefruit Jam. A seasonal favorite for autumn is Grammy’s Apple Pie Jam, made with fresh apples, sugar, molasses, cinnamon, nutmeg, and Wyckoff’s own secret blend of seasonings.
Why does she love working the farmers’ markets? Wyckoff says she likes people, and is happy to talk with shoppers about her canning process. “People want to learn; a lot of vendors resent when people say, ‘I’m going to make that,’ but I don’t. I want people to be able to do it safely.”
Find Grammy’s Thursday at the Sierra Vista Farmers’ Market, Friday at the Heirloom Farmers’ Market at Jesse Owens Park, Saturday at the Heirloom Farmers’ Market at Steam Pump Park, Sunday at the Heirloom Farmers Market at Rillito Park, and Sunday at Santa Fe Square Farmers’ Market.