Heirloom Farmers Markets Partners With County On Massive Permanent Space

By Adam Lehrman
June 26, 2014

When news broke recently that Heirloom Farmers Markets was losing management responsibilities of the long-running St. Philips Plaza farmers market to newcomers FoodInRoot, many were shocked to hear of the transition.

Heirloom Farmers Market at Rillito Park
Heirloom Farmers Market at Rillito Park

Little did we know that something bigger and better would be coming soon, right around the corner. Today, Heirloom Farmers Markets announced a permanent farmers market pavilion at Rillito Park.

From the press release:

On Sunday, July 6, 2014 , The Heirloom Farmers Market Group will be launching its newest and largest market at Rillito Park. They will be celebrating the opening with dozens of market vendors, food trucks, live music and chef demonstrations on this Independence Day weekend. In collaboration with Heirloom and The Rillito Park foundation, Pima County intends to build a permanent farmers market pavilion that will be the destination for all local food. “We are creating a place that aligns with our mission of celebrating, connecting and educating the community of all that local food has to offer., says Manish Shah, co-director of the Heirloom Farmers Markets.

In a recent conversation, Shah recalled how the new partnership with the county came to fruition.

"The partnership started quite by accident. I asked one of my former vendors to be on our board of directors for Heirloom Farmers Market (non-profit), Jaye Wells. Turned out that he was also Director of the Rillito Park Foundation. We started chatting and he felt there would be a great fit for a farmers market at the park. The idea got a very warm reception from the County and we began reviewing options with them. We’ve had several meetings which have been very productive in developing this new food pavilion."

Though the new location will be in use by July 6th, the shaded pavilion won't be built until later this year.

When pressed about the potentially bittersweet breakup with St. Philips Plaza and the farmers market he and Heirloom had managed for over 12 years, Shah acknowledged the situation, but was far more focused on what the future holds.

"It’s bittersweet indeed. This transition could have been handled so much more smoothly which would have been so much easier on the customers, vendors and on Heirloom. But, the future is very exciting. Now we have the platform to be able to do so many exciting new things that we’ve never had a chance to do before."

The "exciting new things" include booths for local restaurateurs to showcase local ingredients and perform chef demonstrations, as well as a possible area for backyard growers to unload excess harvest.

Shah also touched upon an important aspect a larger market brings: additional parking.

“We built the market over the last 16 years and can now meet the demands for more vendors and food events while also addressing the shortage of parking in the much larger location of Rillito Park.“

Look for the new Heirloom Farmers Market launch on Sunday, July 6th at Rillito Park.

For more information visit Heirloom Farmers Markets on the web at heirloomfm.com.

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