Couple has Passion for Veggies

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February 10, 2011 12:00 am  •  Abigail Richardson For The Arizona Daily Star

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“I buy from them because I know it’s grown locally,” O’Neill said. “I know it’s been grown right here without pesticides and junk. The quality is much better.”

They pick the vegetables from 24 to 48 hours before taking it to the market.

In addition to the quality of the food, customers praised Larry and Eunice on their customer service.

“They are so personable,” said Karen Wilkison, a Larry’s Veggies customer. “They will e-mail you if they will be at the market or not. It is like a community of people who know them and work with them.”

Larry and Eunice used to sell their produce at three markets, but now sell at only one because they have a hard time keeping up with the demand.

“We sell the majority in the first hour-and-a-half,” Eunice said. “The last two-and-a-half hours is just getting to know people. We have a following. We have people e-mailing us asking to save them greens, and I will. We have local chefs that use our things.”

The couple has made friends with their customers as well as other vendors at the markets.

“The vibe at all of the farmers markets is really good,” Eunice said. “What is cool is you can say, ‘You should try the garlic cheese over there with their spinach or their kale.’ You kind of work and feed off of each other.”

Before moving to Marana in 2001, Larry and Eunice owned a nursery in Douglas called Zamp Country Nursery where they grew tulips and trees, and veggies on the side.

“That’s where my children grew up,” Eunice said. “Our kids grew up picking vegetables, grew up working in the nursery and they also grew up building forts all over the place.”

Although their children don’t have careers in the agricultural field, they have been compelled to grow something, Eunice said. Her daughter had to have her flowers and strawberries, and her son planted chiles and tomatoes.

“The kids didn’t get the disease as bad,” Larry said. “They grow for themselves, not the market.”

During the week Larry works in landscaping; Eunice worked for the county until recently.

In November, the couple lost a lot of their crops to harsh weather. They hope to be back at the Oro Valley Farmers’ Market in the next month.

“We first started at Oro Valley with one little table and we would stress out if we didn’t make $90,” Eunice said. “Well, we are up to four tables now” at St. Philip’s.

Larry’s Veggies sells a $3 one-gallon bag and a $5 two-gallon bag that customers can fill with their choice of vegetables.

The couple plans to sell cut flowers this spring.

“We are constantly trying to find something new, something that customers want,” Eunice said. “We are asking customers what they want to see and what they want us to grow. Dream-wise, we would like to can some of our things one day.”

Abigail Richardson is a University of Arizona journalism student who is an apprentice at the Star. Contact her at starapprentice@azstarnet.com or 807-7776.