Marina's Farmers Market
A new farmers' market for Marina gives customers more local choice.
Thursday, May 22, 2003
Photo by Randy Tunnell: Farmer In The Dell: Jamie Collins of Serendipity Farms drives a vintage tractor in her Moss Landing fields.
Farmers'' markets have been blooming across California like lupin in a long spring. A new one is about to flower in Marina, every Sunday beginning June 1.
Two Marina residents and CSUMB graduating seniors, Iris Peppard and Sarah Vanderstad, are the founders of Everyone''s Harvest Certified Farmers'' Market, which will be located at 280 Reservation Rd., across from the Marina post office. The two women formed a nonprofit organization, in compliance with state law regarding farmers'' markets, and plan to support related projects such as community gardens with the proceeds.
There are two kinds of farmers'' markets in California: state-certified markets--more than 400 established since the state set up the certification process in 1977--and their uncertified brethren, open-air festival-style markets that are often called "farmers markets," but technically are not.
Both kinds demonstrate that the demand for the once-common relationship between growers of food and consumers of food is flourishing. And once the unsurpassable quality of plant-ripened produce is experienced, it''s likely that the enlightened individual will permanently join the burgeoning nutrition-and-taste-conscious culture.
At press time, Peppard and Vanderstad had ten farmers signed on to their market, half of whom produce organically. They plan to add bakers, restaurants, and other complementary producers in order to open with 30 vendors.
So what is certification all about? It''s a way for the state to guarantee that consumers may discourse with producers of the food they buy, and also that the producers are local. They must grow, catch, rear, bake, brew, smoke or pickle their own products and they must do it in California. Because most grocers buy from large distributors, who in turn buy from large farms, farmers'' markets are one way for small or new farmers to sell their goods.
"Major retail grocers won''t sell vegetables unless every piece looks alike," says Jamie Collins of Serendipity Farm in Moss Landing and Carmel Valley. "Some of my carrots are cute the way they wrap their legs around each other. I leave roots on certain vegetables because I like the way they look--and my customers do, too."
Collins grows more than 50 varieties of organic vegetables and flowers on 5.5 acres with the help of a full-time foreman and part-time contracted labor for peak harvests. In addition to selling at Monterey''s Alvarado Street market every Tuesday, she is adding the new Marina market to her schedule, and is waitlisted for MPC''s Thursday market. Farmers'' market sales account for approximately 30 percent of Collins'' total production, with the remainder purchased by local chefs and an organic wholesaler; she supplements her farming income with a part-time position certifying land for California Certified Organic Farmers.
Today''s customers know more about produce, according to Collins, or are at least more curious. Many know the spiny globe artichokes she grows are the best-tasting ones.
Collins is often surprised when customers lament spending $1.25 for a bunch of organic Nantes carrots, but think nothing of dropping $8 for a bunch of flowers.
The day Collins and I were scheduled for an interview, she had an agricultural emergency. After nickeling and diming it at farmers'' markets, she recently sowed the seeds for her biggest sale ever. A distributor contracted to buy 14,400 bunches of leeks, the vegetable that savvy chefs are designing with this spring. Collins, proud, presented her sample to the distributor. One problem: The white part was an inch and a half shorter than purchasing specs allowed. Collins visited other farms that grew the same variety and found their white ends to be the same length as hers. But it was still no-go, even at a reduced price. Collins had two days to find a buyer and harvest before the leeks began to bolt.
She scrambled and was able to sell many of her too-short leeks, thanks to the Alvarado Street market and some smart chefs. And when the leeks in her field began to bolt, she realized she had a new item to sell: leek flowers. Now you, too, will have a unique opportunity to buy this season''s hottest flower, exclusively at the Serendipity Farm stand--at a farmers'' market, of course.
Local Farmers'' Markets
Everyone''s Harvest (opens 6/1)
280 Reservation Road at De Forest,
Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets
Monterey Peninsula College
980 Fremont St., Monterey
Northridge Shopping Mall, Salinas
Old Monterey Market Place
Alvarado Street, Monterey
Carmel Valley Public Library Community Market
Carmel Valley Road in Carmel Valley Village
May-Oct., third Saturday of the month,
10am to 5pm
Hartnell College Farmers'' Market
Homestead and Central, Salinas
Sunday, 8am to noon