Meet at the market: who’s in charge, here?

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Each week we meet up with Katie Hershfelt of Cultivate Events as she chats with farmers, chefs and shoppers at the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers’ Market.

This week, we went straight to the source and met up with Sam Edelman, general manager of the SBCFM itself. He’s been working at the market since he was 17 years old and just needed some gas money. Now, almost 20 years later, he’s in charge of sustaining the market’s “pure” reputation.


The market began around 1978 by a group of local farmers. Randy Wade of Red Horizon Farm, whose stand you can still find at the Saturday market, was among the founding members.

“Our first markets were held at the Santa Barbara Mission,” said Edelman. Other sites included the Santa Barbara Bowl and Santa Barbara High School landing spots downtown.

“I think the biggest change has been the slow introduction of meat, dairy and bread products into our list of items,” he says. “It really makes for a complete shopping experience.”

IMG_20150728_164751171Sellers, however, must follow strict rules. AB 1871, a new state law which took effect this January, provides funding to ensure that growers at certified farmers markets produce what they sell.

This helps Santa Barbara’s farmers market stay a “pure” market. Hummus, for example, can only be sold because Baba Foods grows their own garbanzo beans. Bread vendors must grow their own wheat, and meat and dairy sellers must raise the animals themselves.

Sam’s shopping list this week:

  • Lettuce from The Garden Of…
  • Avocados and lemons from Hilltop and Canyon Farms
  • Japanese tomatoes from California Sunrise Farms
  • Heirloom tomatoes from Tutti Frutti Farms
  • Herbs from Earthtrine Farm

And, despite how hard we tried, we couldn’t find a single fruit or veggie Edelman doesn’t like.

To check out all our past farmers’ market guests, click here.