This is a series of posts spotlighting Arizona businesses that share their products with Sibley's West, as part of the "Small Business Boost" award efforts of 3TV/CBS 5, BNC National Bank, the Arizona Small Business Association and Cox Business.
One of Arizona's most impressive entrepreneurs is native Tucsonan Cheri Romanoski.
If that name sounds familiar, you've probably enjoyed one of her delicious prickly pear products -- jellies, candies, honey, and syrup.
Her company, Cheri's Desert Harvest, is a prolific harvester of the prickly pear fruit, collecting more than 35 tons of the healthy fruit every August and September.
Juices are then squeezed from the fruit -- it has thorns, of course -- and used for her array of offerings.
As an Arizonan, Cheri grew up appreciating the desert and its natural resources, inspired by hard working parents.
She became an elementary-school teacher in Tucson, explaining to the children the flora and fauna of the Sonoran Desert and how Native Americans survived on its bounty.
This led her to preserve many fruits grown on her property to provide for her husband and three children with all-natural, healthy preserves.
The excess production was given to neighbors. You can guess what happened next.
The neighbors began sending over unusual fruit grown on their own properties for her to preserve for them. Payment for this favor came in the way of special homemade goodies made in their own kitchens.
So Cheri learned how to make many different varieties of preserves. In 1985 her hobby blossomed into a national and international business.
Her products were a must for Sibley's West when the store opened in 2010. It was quickly apparent that Cheri puts extra care into each product she produces -- through hand harvesting, processing and preparing all of her products in small quantities to ensure quality and integrity.
She still uses no artificial flavoring, coloring or preservatives, just nature’s finest fruits and vegetables.
We were fortunate to make two videos with Cheri in which she describes the health benefits of the prickly pear. In the second video you can see one of the ranches where Cheri collects the fruits.