A crowd of nearly 300 people gathered at 5368 N. Chestnut Ave. on Monday morning to celebrate what some called a marriage between the Fresno State farm market and the community.
President John Welty begins by welcoming the public to the grand opening of the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market at Fresno State Monday morning. Photos by Michael Price / The Collegian
At least that is how Beverly Knobloch, the daughter of Rue and Gwen Gibson, described the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new red and gray barn-inspired Gibson Farm Market.
“I think that the community has had a love affair with this farm market for quite a few years,” Knobloch said. “And today now, with the opening of the new market, I think we can say it’s a marriage between the community and the university.”
In 2008, Joyce Gibson, Knobloch’s sister, donated $1.5 million to the farm market. This money allowed for the construction of the market, and thus, renaming it after her parents. Knobloch spoke at the ribbon-cutting ceremony on behalf of her family.
Knobloch gave a brief history of her sister, and how their family journeyed to and settled in the Valley. Ultimately, the family fell in love with farming in the Valley.
She urged the community and university to persevere with the courage her ancestors showed by putting faith in the opportunities the Valley offers.
“We need to have courage. We need to be sure that we speak up for this rich land that surrounds us for farming. Don’t just allow the sprawl from the cities to cover up this rich land,” she said.
Knobloch echoed the thoughts of many involved in the opening of the new market when she said it continued the relationship between the community and the university.
President John Welty said Fresno State has taken strides in connecting with the community during the past 20 years.
“In many ways, today’s dedication of the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market stands as a testament for Fresno State’s deep connection to our community and our region,” he said.
Michelle Cromie, student supervisor at the farm market, said she is proud to be a Fresno State student because of the Jordan College of Agriculture.
“As a student, I can say that when we’re making a product that carries the Fresno State label, we take that very seriously,” Cromie said. “Every sip of wine, every squash available or scoop of ice cream represents who we are and what we can accomplish.”
The new farm market is 4,800 square feet with 2,500 square feet of retail space, which is about double the size of the old facility. The new building features a wine-tasting bar and ice cream counter.
The University Farm Lab grows produce on more than 1,000 acres. These products are packaged and sold at the market. It has acquired a solid customer base from selling quality products like its nationally recognized sweet corn.
Teri Garrison, who lives near Fresno State, was one of the first 300 customers at the new farm market building. She received a free gift: chocolate-covered raisins and a bar of Bulldog Bark in the shape of a dog bone, packaged in a farm market cup. Garrison also bought three pints of ice cream and a plant.
Garrison said when she cannot get sweet corn from the market, she comes for ice cream and the potted plants.
“It’s a beautiful place,” Garrison said about the new building. “The ice cream here is the best, too.”