San Joaquin Valley summers mean barbecues and picnics, more Bulldog baseball, lake outings and FRESNO STATE SWEET CORN! Each year at this time, the action heats up at California State University, Fresno when sweet corn hits the bins in the Gibson Farm Market, which this year happens at 10 a.m. Friday, May 30.

The corn debut will be complemented by two events in the store Friday:

10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. – Free samples of student-produced German sausage and slow-cooked pork loin in the Food Processing Department’s student-developed mole barbecue sauce will be served at the student-staffed Bulldog Chop Shop meat counter.

4-7 p.m. – Fresno State Winery wine tastings expand an hour Thursday and Friday and add 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday to the schedule. The $5 charge is for three tastes – including newly released 2006 San Joaquin County Merlot – and a commemorative glass. Fresno State viticulture and enology students pour the tastes of wine they produced at the first commercial winery on a U.S. university campus.

The annual door-buster rush for the season’s first corn is a couple of days earlier than usual this year, but the market is ready for the anticipated extra customers who also will be treated to a tasting of boiled corn.

The Gibson Farm Market is open 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Proceeds from the market support agriculture programs at Fresno State and strengthen operations of the University Farm.

The Farm Market also is offering new, attractive re-usable produce bags made out of polypropylene to carry the corn home, said manger Jennifer Sobieralski.

“This Bulldog-red bag is earth-friendly, it holds up to 16 ears of corn and does not tear or break,” said Quinn Zweigle, a student-employee at the market. The bags cost $1.50.

Every time the customers re-use the Fresno State corn bag or bring their own bags, the University Farm will contribute five cents to a fund that will support the organic farming and sustainable initiative at Fresno State.

And to thank customers for re-using the bags, their names will be put into a drawing at the end of each month for gift certificates and favorite products, Sobieralski said.

“We are excited as our many customers make their way back to the Farm Market” following construction on the Barstow-Chestnut avenues intersection, Soberialski said.

Grown and processed by students, Fresno State sweet corn will sell at four ears for $1, said Dr. Ganesan Srinivasan, director of the University Agricultural Laboratory that consists of 25 enterprises including the market.

“In spite of higher input and labor costs, we decided to keep last year’s price to thank our loyal patrons who continued to support the Farm Market during the road construction,” Srinivasan said, noting that sales had dropped during the work. He expects the store to return soon to its record- breaking sales with the availability of corn.

Last year, the farm market sold more than 400,000 ears of corn and he anticipates 2008 sales will exceed a half-million ears.

The Bulldog Chop Shop – open 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Saturday – will be selling German sausage and pork loin along with other sausages, ground round, beef steaks and chops, and pork steaks and chops.

Discounts on some purchases will be offered to winetasting participants. Bsides the Merlot, this week’s tastings will emphasize grilling-friendly 2006 San Joaquin County Sauvignon Blanc and 2003 San oaquin County Petite Sirah.

Fresh at the Gibson Farm Market are cucumbers, green beans, squash, herries, apricots, plums and peaches. The market also sells ice cream (tastings are the second Tuesday of each month) and other dairy products, nuts, fruit sauces and other student-developed prepared foods, plus campus-grown flowers and plants.

Fresno State extra-virgin olive oil, which sold out in December, is expected back on shelves in June. Plans are in the works for the Fresno State Farm Festival on June 21 at the market.

For more information, call 559.278.4511. For a farm tour (4-5 p.m. Fridays), call 559.278.2011.

Related links:

Gibson Farm Market –

Farm Festival –