Monday, September 3, 2012

Farmers Market

James Beard once said, "Food is our common ground, a universal experience." and how true is that we all need it to survive and it serves as a representation as to who we are as a nation, where we live within that nation, and sometimes even down to the neighborhood. What you find in each and every one of those areas is the farmers market. 

For thousands of years farmers have taken their excess fruit, vegetables, and proteins to a central location to sell or trade their goods. As time has gone by governments began to regulate these public markets. Public markets were established to protect people from price gauging and their health. These markets then slowly turned into what we know as grocery stores. What the stores carried varied as transportation and refrigeration improved.

In California, farmers markets have had a resurgence that began in the 1970's and is really hitting its stride today. People are looking for a healthy and local alternative to what you find in the grocery stores. There are even restaurants that are based on local seasonal produce. Are we going back to a time where we ate only what was in season and locally grown? In Redlands, the answer is yes.

The first farmers market was established in 1988 and continues to run. It is a part of Redlands Market Night held every Thursday on State Street from 6-9. It is one of the most successful certified farmers markets in Southern California. From that success a second farmers market was born about four years ago. Held every Saturday morning this market brought in other farmers and vendors that did not sell at the Thursday night market.

This is when I started to religiously attend the market. At that time it was only open April to the end of September. I became a huge fan on Three Sisters Farm. Abby & Jason Harned grow some of the most beautiful and loved organic produce. I had fun getting their sampler basket that would give me an assortment of vegetable from what they had harvested that week. I was able to challenge myself and learn new ways to cook  these new vegetables.

About two years ago, Three Sisters Farm and a few other farmers splintered off from the Saturday market in downtown Redlands and began a new market held on the grounds of The Grove School. This market is held year-round, rain or shine.  At this certified farmers market a percentage of the farmers earnings goes to the school. The Grove school also has its own stall where they sell fresh eggs and vegetables that are grown at the school.

The Grove farmers market offers something the other market in Redlands doesn't offer, meat. Once a month New Frontier Family Farm come to the market and bring their free-range chicken. This chicken is fantastic as it is very fresh. They are now offering beer and lamb also. They also have different groups come in a make breakfast. You can shop and enjoy a great meal.

What I love about the farmers market is that you can be inspired by what is offered there. Try new things and find something you love. This weekend I spotted beautiful plums and knew I had to make something from them. Along with some chiles I purchased a spicy plum sauce was made for last nights dinner. I am not a plum eater, but I wanted to try something new and as I said I ended up finding something I love now and I will try plums in other ways.

 Please go out and support your local farmers markets. Take your kids and show them how wonderful fresh fruits and vegetables can be. It is a win win situation, you buy local, support your community, and you get something healthy and tasty in return.

Three Sisters Farm Facebook Page

New Frontier Family Farm website

The Grove School website and Facebook Page

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