My connection with farmers markets goes back more than two decades when my wife and I helped start a market in Virginia. At the time we operated a restaurant (perhaps a little ahead of its time) that espoused the “farm to table” philosophy. In seeking out local farmers to grow things for our eatery, we soon discovered that, while there were plenty of folks willing to grow for us, they needed additional places to sell their goods to make a living doing it. We lent out our space for a couple of meetings, found some legal help, and in few months the Staunton-Augusta Farmers Market was born. It has gone on to become one of the best markets in the state. Since 2000, the number of farmers markets nationally has grown 150%, from 2,863 markets in 2000 to 7,175 in 2011. As demand grows for fresh, local food, and shoppers seek relationships with the farms that make such food possible, farmers markets are bolstering local economies in communities large and small. And, most importantly, people are getting the opportunity to eat healthier food.
In our house we much of the grocery shopping on the weekends, and this includes regular trips to the Hillcrest Farmers Market. It’s always a thrill to come down the hill from Washington Street to the point where you can see the magnificence of the market spread out along Normal Street. Typically there are more than 140 vendors, selling everything from raspberries to falafel to hand puppets. Much of the produce is locally grown and virtually everything is sold with the kind of pride that only comes from having a personal connection with your product. There are Farmers Markets throughout San Diego County every day of the week and even a magazine (Edible San Diego) that keeps up with all the seasonal events associated with locavorism. Here’s a handy list of those markets and their days/hours of operation.
This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of the Hillcrest Market. Besides being one of the larger markets in town, they have a robust web site, complete with a list of all their sellers and even a blog that shares impressions of the weekly event. I took a boatload of photos last Sunday that I’d like to share with you here. Bon appetit!