Dave Stutzman – Vendor of the Week!

StutzmanwithCucumberThere are gentlemen farmers, corporate farmers, and at the Sedona Farmers Market we have our very own “Fireman Farmer,” Dave Stutzman. For twenty years, until his retirement in March 2015, Dave commuted back and forth between Camp Verde and his job as a Peoria firefighter.Dave says farming is “in the blood.” Growing up in Arizona, he travelled back to Iowa every summer to work on the farms of his Mennonite uncles.  He still loves tractors. He started growing Asian vegetables as a hobby.  When his kids were small, he branched out into pumpkins. A friend from Phoenix suggested tomatoes, which are now a specialty for Dave. In fact, his tomatoes were once voted “Best in Arizona.” He’s been featured in Sunset Magazine, and National Geographic interviewed him just this past month.  Dave starts some of his plants in a greenhouse but quickly moves them into his fields when the danger of frost has passsed. According to Dave, tomatoes grown in the sun contain the most desirable flavor and the most vitamins. One of Dave’s favorite varieties is the Pierson. He also loves the sweet Old German.

stutzman tomatoesUnfortunately, the latter is quick to soften, so we don’t see them at the market.  This is Dave’s first year at the summer market but he’s a long time participant at the Sedona winter market. Dave’s the one we want to thank for the certified organic citrus, those beautiful navel oranges, Meyer lemons and pink grapefruit picked on Saturday and sold on Sunday. He also hopes to expand his own seasonal offerings to include spinach, lettuce and kale during the winter months. Dave likes to keep his operation small and simple. He says “if you enjoy what you’re doing you’ll grow a good product.” In need of a good tomato in the middle of the week? You can pick your own at Dave’s farm stand on Salt Mine Road in Camp Verde, open every day except Monday from March through November. Need to know which way the wind is blowing?  Check with Dave at the Market for his well-considered weather predictions.

Story and Photo by Laura Cox