On a crisp, cool Saturday morning, farmer Ken Singh chats with a family enjoying breakfast at Singh Meadows in north Tempe. In the distance, a fire pit puffs smoke into the pale, blue sky and steam rises from a clear, chemical-free pond.
For 30 years, this was Rio Salado Golf Course, maintained in pristine condition through the use of pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals. It’s taken years for Singh to scrub the unwanted additives from the land and water—to create Singh Meadows, a 72-acre oasis where he hopes the community can come reconnect with nature.
“There’s a richness that money can’t buy,” he says. “That’s why we’re here.”
Singh can’t farm here due to the fact that the land is also a levee, but instead he’s built a spacious indoor farmers market where shoppers can buy organic produce, honey, fresh baked bread, and other local products.
Most of the vegetables for sale are grown at his farm in Scottsdale, and even the honey comes from his bees. Open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday through Sunday, shoppers can reserve weekly baskets in advance that include a bounty of produce ranging from Asian pears and golden beets, to sweet potatoes and Medjool dates.
For visitors who want to dine at Singh Meadows, the onsite restaurant and juice bar highlights the culinary talents of chef Sasha Levine, formerly of The Ocotillo in Phoenix and new owner of the In Betweens, which holds pop-up dinners throughout the Valley. Open for breakfast and brunch, menu items have included a smoked salmon tartine with Meyer lemon herbed cream cheese, soft cooked egg, tomato, caper and red onion; Indian breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs, flatbread, dal, labne and cilantro; and a Thai curry bowl featuring market vegetables, basmati rice, herb salad, toasted coconut and cashews.
Breakfast and brunch offerings are designed to spotlight produce available at the market. For example, the Meadows Picnic Basket is an ever-changing basket stuffed with toasted Noble Bread, pickled duck eggs, tender roasted beets and thin slices of fennel. The Taste of the Meadows elevates an average fruit salad with assorted fruit served over delicate ricotta cheese and sprinkled with pistachios.
Diners are welcome to enjoy their food, along with a cup of locally roasted Press Coffee, on the patio or out on the Meadow, where daybeds, picnic tables and lounge chairs dot the rolling green grass.
For Singh, the main point is simply to get more people outside. “When you come here and you roll around in the dirt, whether you like it or not, you’ll leave a different person,” Singh says. “Your demeanor will change.”
1490 E. Weber Dr., Tempe, AZ 85281 | (480) 225-7199
Photos by Mark Lipczysnki