“We are an agricultural community, and we do not wish to ever sever those ties,” said Mayor Bob Taylor at the ribbon cutting ceremony marking the opening of a much-anticipated growing season. “The people of Brentwood have responded wholeheartedly in support of the Farmers’ Market, because it’s part of our heritage.”
The market featured more than just farmed products, showcasing specialty producers such as Gran’ma Lillie Ol’ Fashioned Sweet Potato Pies and Bella Luna Chocolates, both from Brentwood. Nurseries also sold vibrantly colored flowers to passersby in need of a bouquet for Mother’s Day.
“We’ve found that in the Farmers’ Markets, people want to have fresh produce, but they also come down for fresh food items, fish, chocolates – foods like that,” said Greg Pursley, the market manager for the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association. The additional vendors did so well Saturday that this year’s market will continue to feature more producers outside the farming spectrum.
Several new farmers also made their debut on the opening day. “Locally, there are about five new farmers represented today, with 14 represented in total,” Pursley said. “But later, there will be around 18.”
Despite the economic recession, sales were anything but slack. “They eat their way through the market every year!” Jennifer Eissner, a faithful shopper of the market, said about her kids. “We love the fresh fruit and veggies, meeting the local farmers and supporting the economy.”
Charlie Clark, owner of a fish company called Coast Side Charlie’s, added, “I think now it has to do with people appreciating the local farmers and small businesses. You can’t get any fresher than you get at the Farmers’ Market.”
Market attendees also enjoyed balloon animals made by Joan Smith, aka JoJo the Clown, and acoustic guitar playing by Lindell Reeves. In the future, entertainment at the market will vary from local bands to solo performers.
“I’ve been playing at Farmers’ Markets since about 1985,” said Reeves, a 40-year guitar veteran. “The people are good. I like the people who appreciate what you do and you can sing whatever you want to sing!”
Vendors relished reaping the fruits (and vegetables) of their labor. “It’s one of the best times to interact with the customers, because you can talk to them and see what they like and don’t like,” said Emily Benz, a representative of Nunn Farms. “We’re around a lot, so people are used to us and they like our produce.”
According to Jerry Gomez, a representative from Rodriguez Farms, “It’s different than going to the store. You get the sun and the fresh air and all that. Just look at the faces of the people. They’re happy just walking through the Farmers’ Market. It’s very good for Brentwood to have this, absolutely. It’s relaxing.”
The Brentwood Farmers’ Market will keep First Street hopping every Saturday through Oct. 31 from 8 a.m. to noon.