Special programs abound at local markets this summer
Summer is always an exciting time at Monterey Bay area farmers’ markets. With so many fruits and vegetables coming into season or hitting their peak during the June–August period, it’s hard for anyone who loves fresh, seasonal produce to stay away.
But lest you forget to make your way to your own nearby market on the appointed day and time of the week that it’s open—this summer, market organizers will be doing their best to get your attention.
WATCH YOUR MOBILE
In the department of electronic outreach, just as this issue of Edible Monterey Bay was going to press, the Monterey Certified Farmers’ Markets were preparing to relaunch their two websites, montereybayfarmers.org and edibleparadise.com.
The sites were expected to include new mobile-friendly resources in addition to the recipes and information about markets, vendors and produce that they always did. They should also keep you up to date on special events as they are planned.
MOVING ON UP
There’s perhaps no better way to get a community’s attention than placing yourself in the middle of it, so it’s no wonder that the seasonal Hollister Certified Farmers’ Market is moving to the thick of it, San Benito Street between 4th and 7th streets. And to be even more accessible, particularly to commuters, the market will stay open until 7:30pm this summer. A gluten-free bakery, a pasta company and a farmer with 15 different kinds of melons will be among the new vendors.
As this issue of EMB was going to press, the Carmel-by-the-Sea Farmers’ Market was celebrating its one-year birthday with its own move to the center of town.
Since launching last summer, the market— which features a number of products grown or made right in Carmel as well as other parts of our region—has established a loyal following from local chefs and foodies. But when it moved temporarily to Mission Street between Ocean and 6th avenues next to Devendorf Park in March to accommodate Relais & Châteaux’s GourmetFest event, it drew record business and lent the city a festive, community atmosphere. Responding to popular demand as well as objections from some merchants, City Hall agreed in May to move the market on a trial basis until early July.
Separately, the Carmel-by-the-Sea market has launched two new programs. The “Merchant at the Market” series will provide brick-and-mortar shops in Carmel with an opportunity to introduce their products to market-goers. And the chef-led market tour that Soerke Peters of Basil Seasonal Dining kicked off in March will continue with local chefs introducing customers to the farmers and other vendors and offering expert tips for preparing their products.
BRING THE KIDS
This summer the Watsonville Fairgrounds Certified Farmers’ Market will feature a children’s nutrition table, offering educational activities that promote healthy food choices. Free market tokens will be provided with shopping instructions, such as, “Go buy one red fruit or one green vegetable,” correlating with lessons on how different colors represent different vitamins. Prizes will be given at the end of the series.
Everyone’s Harvest will continue its interactive cooking workshops this summer at its Pacific Grove and Alisal markets. Attendees gather together in an on-site outdoor kitchen, where they cook, taste and learn all about nutrition and utilizing fresh, healthy produce directly from the market stalls. All ages are encouraged to join in on the classes, which are taught by professional chefs. The first 12 participants will receive $10 towards their produce purchases. The Pacific Grove classes will be held on Monday, June 23 at 4pm and 5:30pm; the Alisal classes will take place Tuesday, July 8 at 12pm and 2pm. Everyone’s Harvest also organizes monthly cooking demonstrations at its Natividad Medical Center Farmers’ Market in Salinas. At these events, local culinary professionals show how to use fresh farmers’ market produce to create seasonal dishes and offer samples of the dishes to the public to try. Organizers also hope they’ll inspire attendees to take the ingredients home in their market bags.
FLAVOR OF THE MONTH
Salinas’ Oldtown Marketplace will keep things exciting and educational at its Saturday market with monthly themed activities or events, often centered on whichever holiday might be coming up, a featured nonprofit or a cooking demo. The mash-up of permanent and weekly vendors will showcase a variety of Monterey County craft makers, produce from all over and wine tasting in nearby Oldtown Salinas merchant shops.
APRICOTS, AVOCADOS AND MELONS, OH, MY!
If you love—or want to help your children learn to love—apricots, avocados, melons and beans, don’t miss the second Wednesday of each month this summer at the Santa Cruz Community Farmers’ Markets’ downtown market.
The SCCFM’s third annual Foodshed Project—which is equal parts education and celebration—will spotlight these stars of the produce world in June, July, August and September, respectively. Expect tastings, talks, cooking demos and other fun food-centric activities led by local chefs, farmers and FoodWhat?!, the Santa Cruz youth empowerment program.
The Apricot King and Chocolate Restaurant’s David Jackman will lead the celebration of apricots; Arrowhead Farms and Bauman College’s Sumana Pathi will honor avocados; Pinnnacle Organics and 3-of-a- Kind’s Kate Appel will take on melons; and Lonely Mountain Farm and Back Porch’s Austin Kaye will elevate the bean.
And then in October, Massa Organics and The Penny Ice Creamery’s Kendra Baker will team up to offer a finale with nondairy ice cream made from locally grown rice.
Also this summer, SCCFM’s sell-out Pop-Up Breakfast series will return, this time with La Balena’s Brad Briske, Uncie Ro’s Ronald Konicke, Feel Good Foods’ Heidi Schlecht, Back Porch’s Austin Kaye and The Penny’s Kendra Baker doing the cooking.
The local chefs will prepare multi-course, seasonally driven breakfasts on-site at the Scotts Valley and Westside markets. Guests gather at one long table to feast together family style and enjoy live music and delicious surprises. Finally, SCCFM will be reaching out to EBT customers with its new Market Match program, made possible by CDFA funding, which offers an extra $5 when they spend $10 on their EBT cards on produce at the Felton and Live Oak markets.
See you at the market!
Amber Turpin is a food writer who homesteads in Ben Lomond.