I first met Jessa through my work at Liberty Market. I run the twitter and facebook, so there are a lot of people that I interact with pretty regularly even if they don’t know it’s me right away. Jessa and her husband Dan were coming to almost every single community dinner that Liberty Market ran each month. (I think maybe they missed one?) So, I would chat with them there while I was taking pictures, and eventually we’d get to chatting when we would run into each other during the week as well. Jessa is someone who runs hot! She’s always got several pokers in the fire-she’s making things happen!
(more photos from the May 2012 community dinner found here.)
Jamie: Tell us a little about yourself.
Jessa: A favorite quote of mine is “Give me dirt & I’m happy.”
I’m a country girl living in the city and in my very limited amount of free time, I find myself wheeling & camping with my Toyota FJ to find dirt. Nature is my rock, my home, my everything. When life becomes too much, I find myself in the middle of nowhere soaking it all in and even getting married in it! I am in love with photography so anyone that follows me on Instagram can see who I am and what I like in a nutshell. I’m simple…but complex at the same time since my mind goes a mile a minute.
I’m not one to talk about myself… But I could go on and on and on.
Jamie: I can relate. I feel so much more connected to myself when I am out in my yard or my community garden. There’s something about the smell and things growing that really centers me. Are you actually from the country or do you just gravitate towards it? I was born in the middle of downtown Phoenix, but sometimes I think that my family’s roots as dairy farmers in upstate New York runs deep. Where did you get married?
Jessa: I was born in Tempe and grew up in Gilbert backing cotton fields and even the well-known Morrison Silos. As a kid I remember the bus ride passing all of the fields and stopping at the small farm houses to pick up the farming kids. I always wanted to be them. My family is originally from Danville, Illinois, and I’ve heard that my great grandparents had a large farm. Must be in my blood….
Dan and I are seriously in love with nature, and we couldn’t see getting married anywhere else. In July every year the Toyota FJ Summit happens in Ouray, Colorado, and it just so happened all of our friends were going so we decided to plan a small wedding at the base of Bridal Veil Falls. To get to Bridal Veil Falls, there was an easy option and a hard, scary option-of course we chose the hard scary option of doing Black Bear Pass BEFORE the wedding! Life is Short, live it each and every day! After doing this trail and being two hours late to the “set time” to meet everyone else at the location we were happy to be on flat, stable dirt! We had one of our best friends become a Dudeist Priest online, many friends wore Fuzzy Duds, and we did our own vows around wheeling and nature. It’s a day we will never forget!
Jamie: So pretty much everyone who knows you, knows that you are the driving force behind The Gilbert Farmer’s Market, but how did that happen? What was the journey leading to it?
Jessa: This is a fun story of how the GFM was born... Yes it’s Dan and my baby!
Many people know about me because I’m the one behind the social media but my husband, Dan, is the other half to the market that many people don’t know about. We have worked with each other for years so there was no question about this partnership.
Let’s go back to the summer of 2010. Dan was in real estate working for the banks and I was working with my dad at our family’s popcorn factory. The one and only Bubba’s Popcorn where we create magical Flavors of popcorn like our number top seller’s Dill Pickle, Fruit Stand and of course Windy City.
My life is always changing, it’s something I’ve accepted since it’s been happening since my childhood. I woke up on Friday morning at 4 a.m. after a dream about a farmers market, and that it was ours! I remember this like it was yesterday, I snuck out of bed and our two rescues followed, I grabbed my laptop and sat on the floor so the dogs wouldn’t wake up Dan. By the time the sun was coming up, I had researched WHERE all of the markets in Arizona were and was ready to go learn as much as I could as fast as I could. One thing I was very strict about from this day was to not solicit at any market and instead grab their contact information and contact them later. I wanted to respect all of the other coordinators, and I still do this today.
Long story short, we did the necessary research, put together a packet, met with the town of Gilbert, and opened on October 23rd, 2010!
(picture of early morning at GFM location, taken from the GFM FB page)
Jamie: Wow. That’s really amazing. Most people say they have a dream, but they didn’t really HAVE a dream! So what are the roles that you both play? Was it hard to leave the popcorn factory? (Also, I am imagining it’s exactly like Willy Wonka’s except with popcorn.)
Jessa: The popcorn factory is a smaller version of the Willy Wonka chocolate factory, just with popcorn! We are currently rebranding ourselves and will have many more products and Flavors coming before the end of the year! Fun stuff is happening and it’s so good to see it finally growing!
I never really left the factory while I was researching for the market we adjusted a few things and hired people to cover my shift in the factory. I have become more of a behind the scenes owner for the factory.
It’s been a wild ride with the market and I’m just lucky to have done something about the dream I had, what if I hadn’t? Something I always think about now! NEVER talk yourself out of a good idea!
For the market, Dan and I cover everything together from website building and maintenance, to building a farmers’ market app for iPhones, to social media and paperwork. We have a system where we cross-check each other’s work on a regular basis so everything is very organized. We’re OCD and everything has its place from paperwork to market set up on Saturdays. It’s not an easy job by any means but we enjoy it!
Jamie: Would you like to share an internet link or two?
Jessa: I’d love to!
My Favorite AZ Rescue, who I used to volunteer at: Friends for Life Animal Rescue
This is one of our favorite towns we have ever visited and believe that everyone should see the beauty! This just happens to be where we got married as well! Ouray, Colorado
One More Link:
Fuzzy Duds: The non-official clothing of our wedding!
My newest favorite site:
We always hope to get a chance to travel to a new place and what better way than to stay with a “local” at their home! SO FUN!
Thanks Jessa for spending the time answering all my questions! Please feel free to ask her your questions in the comments below!