Gibson Farm Market in Fresno
Jul 26, 2016 10:00AM
● By Kimberly Horg
To the Market
By Kimberly Horg
Photo: Ellie Koleen
More than 35 years ago, the Fresno State University Farmers Market sold extra sweet corn and fresh fruit from the school’s farm laboratory at a fruit stand on the corner of Barstow and Chestnut Avenue. With the start of the dairy processing unit, the roadside attraction added a portable freezer (powered by a very long extension cord) and began selling its infamous student-made ice cream.
It grew every year to include food processing, meat science, floral and the horticulture department. To keep up with the growing demand, it first moved to a small building on the same corner. Then in 2011, it received a large donation from Joyce Mae Gibson, donating $1.2 million in memory of her parents’ passion for agriculture and education. The donation went toward not only constructing a new and improved Farmers market (with more space), but allowed for improved equipment and the addition of an ice cream counter.
The Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market opened in March 2013 to offer a variety of products from the Crop, Dairy, Enology, Floral, Food Processing, Horticulture, Meat, Orchard, and Viticulture departments. These departments provide fresh seasonal vegetables, milk, cheese, ice cream, fresh cuts of meat and meat products, award-winning wines, local honey, jams, sauces, salsas, dried fruit, and chocolate-coated and non-coated nuts. There’s also a full service ice cream counter with classic flavors and mixes ranging from cookie dough to chocolate and peanut butter. The Market is managed by a staff member and the remaining staff is students, and its goal is to showcase the hard work and production of students, faculty and staff.
“The real focus here is on the education of students,” says David Sieperda, farm manager for Fresno State’s Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology. “The Fresno State Farm provides an education, from the production of crops and livestock through the harvest and processing/ packing all the way to the retail and wholesale sale of these products, all done right here at Fresno State. Our students can and do enter the workforce with an excellent education which includes real ‘get your hands dirty’ work, which is appreciated by future employers.”
The farm laboratory plays an important role in the educational program of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology to support the courses offered by the seven departments that comprise the college. The market is the only location to sell the products from the Farm Laboratory with the exception of its popular sweet corn. All produce is picked directly from the fields and placed on the shelves.
Sieperda says customers love the fresh produce, delicious ice cream, wines, and vegetable and flower transplants along with the opportunity to support Fresno State students. All of the items are grown, produced, or processed by students
“I love the farm market because of all the fresh produce it has to offer. It’s really nice to know where my food is grown and I love shopping at a place where I always feel welcomed,” says Carol Anderson of Clovis.
Sieperda recommends trying a scoop of ice cream from the full-service counter or sample an award-winning wine during the daily wine tasting. Custom gift baskets can be filled with meats, sauces, salsas, jams, wine or other items.
“We’ve been known to sell out of our famous sweet corn and popular flavors of ice cream.
The availability of our products can change daily, so it’s always fun to come to the market and see what’s new,” Sieperda said.
Every dollar received at the Gibson Farm Market goes back to the education of students in all areas of production, harvest, logistics, packing, processing, marketing and sales. It also connects the community with students.
“The Gibson Farm Market is important to the community because it connects real and ongoing agricultural education to the Fresno community and beyond,” he said.
Regular customers frequent the store daily, along with first-time visitors from all over the country. Many out-of-state customers are alumni or relatives of locals and/or alumni that live in the area.
“We invite everyone to come out to the Gibson Farm Market for a taste of farm fresh foods, interaction with students involved in the production process and the opportunity to experience and support Fresno State in a unique way,” he said.
Fresno State Gibson Farm Market
5368 N. Chestnut Ave., Fresno • (559) 278-4511
Hours: August through June:
Monday-Friday, 9 am-6 pm;
Saturday, 9 am-4 pm;
Sunday, 11 am-4 pm