Expanded farm market expected to open Spring of 2013

The current Farm Market offers a variety of produce from Fresno State. The new location will be just south of the current building. Ezra Romero / The Collegian

The current Farm Market offers a variety of produce from Fresno State. The new location will be just south of the current building.
Ezra Romero / The Collegian

Fans of Fresno State’s agricultural products have something to look forward to early next year—the completion of a new, larger location for the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market.

The market was created in 1984 as an outdoor stand to sell produce grown by Fresno State students and has since moved indoors to expand into other university ventures such as dairy, meat, and flowers.

Because of that expansion, officials say the current building, which was built in 1955 and located on university-owned land at the corner of Barstow and Chestnut avenues has become outdated.

“The existing market is too small and the building is very old,” said Deborah Adishian-Astone, the executive director of the Agricultural Foundation, an auxiliary organization that operates the market.

The new location, which is planned to be approximately 4,000 square feet in size, will nearly double the current market’s available floor space. It will be located just south of the current building.

According to the project description filed with the university, new features will include: freezers, coolers, an ice cream counter, a wine cellar and tasting area, floral shop, a fresh meat and deli counter and multiple displays for a wide variety of products grown and processed by students of the Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology.

“The Jordan College is planning for new value-added products to be available,” Adishian-Astone said. “We may also supplement with some Fresno State apparel.”

An example of a value-added product is the popular Bulldog Bark candy bar, which incorporates an ingredient Fresno State does not make, chocolate, along with Fresno State-grown raisins and nuts to craft a complete treat.

Other than these value-added products, every item sold at the market is and will remain Fresno State exclusive, said Adashian-Astone.

With the larger building, new features and more products, Adishian-Astone said that sales from the new location are projected to increase by $70,000 in five to six months. Sales in 2011 to 2012 exceeded $1.3 million.

“We are being conservative in our sales projections until we have a better understanding of traffic patterns and seasonal availability of products,” Adishian-Astone said.

Excess revenue, including the projected increase, goes back to students in the form of reinvestment.

“All surplus revenue generated from the Agricultural Foundation units is reinvested back into facilities and equipment in order to provide our students with a hands-on experience in conjunction with their academic classes,” Adishian-Astone said.

Construction of the new location was made possible thanks to a $1.5 million donation from the estate of Joyce Mae Gibson, a notable local attorney. The market was renamed in honor of her parents following the donation in 2008.

Mark Wilson Construction, Inc. began grading the land where the building will be located on Aug. 20. Adashian-Astone said actual construction of the building itself will be swift.

“They’re fabricating all the metal and other parts off-site,” Adashian-Astone said. “So actually transporting and putting up those pieces here will go very quick.”

The current market will remain open until the new location is completed and then be used for overflow cold storage and as housing center for irrigation technologies.

Fourteen employees work for the store and only one, Jennifer Sobieralski, is not a current student of Fresno State. Depending on how well the new store fares, more help may be needed.

Sobieralski, the market’s full-time manager and graduate of the Craig School of Business at Fresno State, said that the market prefers to hire agriculture students but exceptions can be made.

“We typically hire before the summer season and each semester as needed,”Sobieralski said.

Sobieralski said that students are limited to 20 hours a week while enrolled in classes.

“During the summer,” Sobieralski said, “students who are not enrolled in summer school can work 40 hours. This works out nicely for our store.”

Students interested in applying can bring a resume in to the store with an attached semester schedule or email Sobieralski at jsobieralski@csufresno.edu.

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