REGION — Farmer’s markets are not what they used to be. Ten years ago, a market might have had a few farmers with vegetables, fruit and assorted homemade products.
Now, most of the local markets feature from twenty-five to seventy-five vendors each week offering everything from artisanal soaps, pottery, jewelry and clothing to handmade bread, cheeses, dips and juices.
After having visited three farmers’ markets in Carlsbad, Leucadia and Vista over the past two weeks, I have seen products that simply did not exist a decade ago.
Kombucha, flavored cider vinegar, nut butter, microgreens, lion’s mane mushrooms and fermented products galore are all part of a new movement in culinary innovation in Southern California.
And more exciting news is that a number of nonprofit organizations have also joined a number of the markets, which adds to the mix.
Nonprofits join the mix
Solutions for Change in Vista is a fairly new organization that teaches “previously homeless moms and dads, through a workforce development program on a farm in Vista, how to grow produce.
This aquaponics farm is the first of its kind to create this type of work program.” The group will be featuring their hydroponic leafy greens and microgreens at the Leucadia Farmers Market.
This unique farm and aquaponics greenhouse prepare families to work in the field of agriculture in their 20,000-foot greenhouse. For more information and to become a volunteer, contact them at www.SolutionsForChange.com or (760) 941-6545.
Produce Good, a nonprofit based in Encinitas has a mission: “To build an informed and engaged community committed to finding sustainable solutions to alleviate hunger, reclaim and re-purpose waste and promote the health and wellbeing of all.”
The organization promotes sharing extra produce, and “gleans” produce that has not been sold or exactly perfect, is collected at the end of the day at numerous farmers’ markets and vendors receive tax credit for their donations.
The organization also visits individual homeowners to pick citrus and avocados and has harvested over 100,000 pounds of fruit and has gleaned hundreds of pounds of vegetables from the markets. To become a volunteer for Produce Good contact them at www.producegood.org.
A local cooperative farm community produces exceptional bakery and green juices at the Leucadia Farmer’s Market.
The Morning Star Ranch in Valley Center is a group of young farmers who exemplify their agricultural philosophy that “sustainable living begins with sustainable relationships.”
Their products can be found at the Yellow Deli in visit and a listing of their market visits can be found at msrfarm.com or (760) 742 – 2370.
A long road to certification
For those vendors who have had the experience of certifying their products and locating a “cottage” location, it is a long road to finding a vendor’s license and certifiable space in which to cook.
For Janet Braver, owner of Grammy’s Granola, it took over 18 years of hard work to be certified and, finally, to hire a staff to take over the baking component of her business.
“I’m seventy years old, and I have been doing this for so many years, I finally started my own company,” Janet told The Coast News. “Now I travel to six markets and my bakers do the cooking!”
Her schedule and product information can be found at www.grammysgranola.com or call (760) 809-8892.
Leticia Manuel, of Gourmet Tamales and her partner, Eduardo Diaz, certified and opened a commercial kitchen for their fifteen-year-old business and now travel to numerous farmers’ markets with their twenty-five varieties of tamales.
“It took a lot of work and money to get the project going, but now we are completely certified,” Manuel said. They visit numerous markets and food truck sites and can their schedule can be found online at www.eatgouormettamales.com.
So you want to start a business?
San Diego County has extensive websites, forms and training information for anyone interested in certifying their business and finding suitable locations. All the information can be found at their site SanDiegoCounty.gov. Home Operations.
Jano Nightingale is a horticulturist who teaches gardening classes in North County. Contact her at [email protected]