Road Journals Blog—When the season's first sweet corn arrives from Fresno State University's 1,000-acre farm, lines at the school's farm store, officially the Rue and Gwen Gibson Farm Market, stretch out the door. Supplies of the coveted kernels often run out by 11:00 am.
There's plenty more to be had here, though. Livestock, field crops, orchards, vineyards, a dairy, and food processing enterprises are all part of the University Agriculture Laboratory, which operates the market, plowing proceeds back into its programs.
You'll find three types of olive oil—Arbequina, Arbosana, and Koroneiki—from the school's 22-acre olive grove. In the butcher case, you might spy grass-fed beef or some of the 16 varieties of sausages students produce, including creative concoctions like “Bulldog” Philly Cheese Steak, a beef and mozzarella number named with a nod to the Fresno State mascot.
Personally, I'd major in ice cream, choosing from some of the 52 flavors the university churns out. There are the classics, of course, but also Cake Batter Cookie Dough, Sinful Cinnamon, Green Tea and Bulldog Tracks (a take on "moose tracks").
Seven varieties of raisins come from student-operated vineyards, with enticing names like Summer Royal and Sweet Scarlet. There's wine, too. In 1997, Fresno State became the first university in the U.S to operate a fully licensed winery. If you're lucky, they'll be offering tastings of the 20-plus varieties on hand, ranging from the $6.95 Tailgate label to the $14.95 President's Reserve Classic Chardonnay.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with chocolate-coated almonds (from university trees, of course) or the product that made me laugh out loud when I spotted it, Bulldog Bark: Milk or dark chocolate bars, filled with almonds and jumbo raisins.
5368 N. Chestnut Ave., Fresno, Calif., (559) 278-4511, www.fresnostate.edu/agf/farmmarket/.
Photography courtesy of Gayle Keck
This blog post was first published in June 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.