It’s easy to forget how much work it takes to put food on our plates. Even before the handpicked fruits and vegetables come home with us from the farmers market, these seasonal items have passed through many more hands than you might think. This week, our contributor Scarlett Robertson takes us to the Hollywood Farmers’ Market to meet the hardworking folks who bring us our local produce, milk, mushrooms, eggs and seafood. So before you take a bite out of that apple, take a moment and think about where it all comes from.
Tomas Gomez is everyone’s go-to guy for Lily’s Eggs at the Hollywood Farmers Market. At his 25-acre farm in Fillmore, California, he raises ducks, chickens, emus and quail. He also grows roses. Get to the market on the early side to nab a special carton of his silky, rich duck eggs. If you strike out, don’t despair. You can also find him at the Santa Monica Farmers Market every Wednesday morning.
José Garanza’s family has worked for McGrath Family Farms in Ventura County, California for 13 years. Garanza started selling produce just over year ago and quickly became a familiar face at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, offering up everything from strawberries, colorful root vegetables and English peas to favas, salad greens and lavender.
Who do all the chefs call when they’re sourcing mushrooms for their menus? Dirk Hermann, of course. The owner of LA FungHi (pronounced: L.A. Fun-GUY) developed his love for fungi growing up in the Bavarian Alps. Lucky for the rest of us home cooks, Hermann sets up his impressive collection of chanterelles, morels, black trumpet mushrooms, porcinis, shiitakes, maitakes and — of course — truffles at many of the weekly markets around town. You name it; he’s got it. And then some.
You can’t miss Ipatzi Nursery‘s urban oasis at the corner of Ivar and Selma. Tomas and Benny Ipatzi tell us that their father has been bringing houseplants and flowers from their nursery in Moorpark to the Hollywood Farmers Market for over 30 years. “I like to do this kind of work,” says owner José Ipatzi.
West Coast Seafood is another longtime fixture at the market. The Siracusa family has been in the seafood business for 30 years, providing grade A fish, scallop, shrimps and more to home cooks at local farmers markets and restaurants. You can find Marilyn Siracusa’s seafood truck directly opposite the Ipatzis, right beside the SEE-LA info booth at the corner of Selma and Ivar.
It’s no secret that Californians are blessed with year-round sunshine and endless variety at local farmers markets. Where else can you buy locally grown berries in the dead of winter? The folks at Pudwill Family Farms started out as a 59-acre turkey ranch 80 miles north of Santa Barbara. Their seasonal raspberries became so popular that farmer Randy Pudwill now grows blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, mulberries, currants and figs.
For weekly shoppers, going to the farmers market can feel like visiting family. We see familiar faces, swap stories and learn what’s fresh out of the ground. Jesus Chavez, a.k.a. “The Strawberry Man,” brings his fresh berries and vegetables to the market every Sunday from J&J Farm in Santa Maria, California.
Need a boost? Blanca Bolaños will hook you up with a morning shot of wheatgrass from the Bolaños family farm. While you’re there, stock up on fresh lentils, black beans, black-eyed peas, garbanzo beans, peas and wheat berries. Or take home a mixed bag of Bolaños Family Sprouts: alfalfa, broccoli, sunflower, fenugreek and daikon radish. That’ll keep you healthy!