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Market Watch: The latest farmers market news by David Karp

August 3, 2013

Farmers Markets: Redlands' Saturday morning gathering impresses

Farmers Markets: Redlands’ Saturday morning gathering impresses

Redlands is one of the last agricultural zones left in the Inland Empire, and its Saturday morning farmers market — though overshadowed by its giant Thursday brother — is thriving. But while the Thursday market seems to be primarily a social event, dominated by prepared foods, music and crafts, the Saturday morning market features many small, local growers who sell in person and offer a good balance of basic and specialty produce.

Glencairn Farm, started by former mayor Bill Cunningham, offers excellent summer citrus, including Valencia oranges, Chislett navels, Redblush grapefruit and a few Variegated Pink lemons. His grandson Peter brings Lamb Hass avocados, a variety that ripens later than Hass and is better at this time from hot areas. He also has Goldmine nectarines, an old home garden favorite with tender, greenish-white flesh and rich flavor.

This is the home market for Robert and Patricia Poole, best known for their superb boysenberries at Hollywood and Santa Monica in June. They are also big peach lovers and this year have a splendid crop of O’Henry and Fay Elberta, as well as Satsuma plums and Kadota figs.

Mindy Kuhn and Jane Crawford of Sunnyside Local Produce beautifully display a dozen unusual heirloom tomato varieties, such as Goose Creek, Carbon and Missouri Pink Love Apple, with informative placards, and in single layers so they don’t get bruised. Rolling Hills Herbs & Annuals offers plants like Thai basil, peppermint and Egyptian hibiscus, whose magenta flower sepals are used to make a cooling drink.

One of the few sweet potato growers left in the Southland, Tom Archibald of T&D Farms, will start his harvest in about two weeks; meanwhile his grandson, Bren Medina, brings cucumbers, zucchini and cantaloupes.

All these stands are from Redlands itself. There is a refreshing paucity of the “usual suspects” from cookie-cutter farmers markets, although there are a few vendors whose offerings raise questions — abundant Fuji apples, all the same size, from a single tree (11 months after harvest!), and succulent celery from hot inland areas where that crop would wither in summer.

Also on Saturday mornings is a smaller farmers market started two years ago at the farm at the Grove School, a charter school flanked by old orange groves 2 miles west of downtown. Last weekend there were just half a dozen stands, most of them very local, small organic farms. For its rustic location and the purity of its vendor selection, it’s one of the most attractive markets in the Southland.

Abby and Jason Harned of Three Sisters Farm sell certified organic yellow straightneck squash, Moon and Stars watermelons, herbs and Siskiyou purple garlic. Produce-savvy locals make a beeline to the stand as soon as it opens, to get the best choice.

Working at the school’s farm is part of an education for its students, who have their own stand, which was tended last Saturday by Cody Hansen, a ninth-grader. He sold tomatoes, salad greens, zucchini and eggplant, all grown a carrot’s throw away in adjacent fields. Farmers market produce doesn’t get more local than that.

Redlands Saturday downtown farmers market, 8-11 a.m., Redlands Boulevard between 5th and 6th streets; Redlands Grove School farmers market, 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays, 11126 Iowa St.

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