Among the concrete columns at University Hospital’s patient pickup/drop-off point, fresh sprouts are available at Debrilla’s Living Foods. Debrilla Ratchford is of one of the 10-odd vendors that compose UNM Hospitals’ weekly Farm Fresh on the Plaza event—a growers’ market, essentially—which goes down Wednesdays from 2 to 5 p.m. There’s fresh produce, prepared foods hot and cold, and lots of informed conversation going on. In fact, Ratchford is decidedly less interested in taking my money for a sack of intriguing sprouted seven grains than she is in discussing the perils of cooking food. While I’m interested in what she has to say, I can’t take my eyes off the hot tamales next door.
“Our primary goals were to expose our employees, patients and visitors to some healthy, locally grown or produced foods, to promote wellness and demonstrate community outreach,” Rolfson tells me in an email. As the market is directed at hospital-related people, members of the general public are invited, but not their cars. “Foot traffic is welcome, but we are not set up to attract additional vehicle traffic, so the market by nature will remain fairly small.”
The fact that the market is on Wednesday is a bonus for growers.
“As a farmer, you need a midweek market, because the produce doesn’t know to stop ripening until next weekend” explains Jeffrey Lee of Hand To Mouth Foods. And the customers here, he says, are different from the usual growers’ market crowd. “They tend to be more business-oriented. They know what they want, they get in, they get out.” Another produce vendor, Agri-Cultura Network, collectively markets naturally grown food from several South Valley farms, with some of the proceeds going toward young farmer education.
The sprouts are a crunchy and nutty rainbow of grains, lentils and beans, with vibrant potency.
Wednesdays, 2 to 5 p.m. through Sept. 28
University of New Mexico Hospitals, main entrance
2211 Lomas NE