D Street comes to life every Saturday morning when La Verne community members enjoy healthy local produce at the farmers market. The farmers market is home to various local farmers and serves as a platform to connect consumers to the agricultural industry and healthy living.
“The purpose of the farmers market is to create access to the community for healthy nutritious produce and provide options to families,” said Oscar De Leon, general manager of the La Verne farmer’s market.
The market is regulated by the county Department of Food and Agriculture, and all vendors are certified growers. However, only two vendors in the La Verne farmers market, the fruit vendor and the micro green vendor, are certified organic growers.
“Being a certified organic grower requires an extra step,” De Leon said. “Farmers have to go through a different program. It is a little bit pricy for some vendors, and they end up not going through the process.”
Vendor Daniel Perez of Happy Hawk Farm, who is known for his fresh salsas, oranges and avocados, encourages the community to take part in the farmer’s market as he has for the past two years.
“It’s a good place to come buy fresh produce,” said Perez. “If you are into supporting your state or your community, you will be supporting farmers. A lot of these people who work these booths are actually very educated, and they can give you advice on what to do and what is healthy for you.”
He said the community’s support is important for farmers to stay competitive.
“It is so hard for farmers to stay afloat,” said Perez. “There are too many people undercutting the prices, especially produce coming from other countries. It makes it harder for us because the water for us is not cheap. We pay a lot for water, and it really helps when people can come support the farmers market and spend some money.”
Lindsuy Lamson, a dance instructor in La Verne, has shopped at the farmers market several times. She is a firm supporter of the farmers market initiative to bring the community together.
“It is good for the town,” Lamson said. “It is good for all the local vendors to come here and local businesses that support them and encourage the community to come together as a whole. You wake up in the morning and say, ‘hey let’s get on there,’ you know you have people that are growing things, fresh foods and fresh vendors.”
Nathan Thomas, another vendor at the farmer’s market, has sold fresh eggs at the farmer’s market for the past two and a half years. Thomas stresses the importance of distinguishing the difference between the produce sold by vendors at the farmer’s market compared to the supermarket.
“A lot of times in supermarkets, people do not really get what they are paying for,” said Thomas. “When they come to the market, they are able to socialize with everyone and get really fresh eggs versus ones that are 45 days old.”
De Leon offered advice in regards to healthy eating on a budget from the farmer’s market. While organic food can be pricey, shopping at the end of the farmers market may save money.
“If you are on a budget, you can find good deals,” De Leon said. “There’s a weekly newsletter that people can subscribe with different coupons each week from different vendors that rotate. Also, at the end of the day, vendors give deals to sell the rest of the produce on their table. Around 12:30, you can find these deals.”
De Leon also mentioned the importance of planning ahead. It not only improves convenience, but it is cost-efficient.
“Plan ahead as to what you’ll be cooking that week,” De Leon said. “That will make you know how much produce you need which will help you not overspend.”
De Leon acknowledged the farmers market lack of appeal to students. He works on increasing variety and catering it towards students that may not have access to cooking, with additions such as hummus and pita bread.
The La Verne farmers market is sponsored by the city of La Verne, Xela Aid, and La Verne local business improvement district. It is open every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and welcomes everyone from the community.
Shaikha Almawlani can be reached at email@example.com.