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Farmers Markets

5 Local Farmers Who are Doing it Right

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Fri, Nov 11, 2011 at 8:36 AM

click to enlarge Tutti Frutti has some of the friendliest signage, too. - FELICIA FRIESEMA
  • Felicia Friesema
  • Tutti Frutti has some of the friendliest signage, too.
After reading Beth Barrett's piece about farmers markets this week, it might be tempting to hang up the locavore hat and head out for an angsty and cathartic mouthful at the local McDonald's. We're envisioning an army of market goers asking to see papers at this coming weekend's markets. This isn't a bad thing, done politely, and is actually a step in the right direction as far as owning your responsibility as a consumer to stay informed. But we think it's important to give recognition to the hard working small farmers we know are doing it right.

We'll get to the certified organics in a minute. But we would be sorely remiss if we didn't note some of the small, certified California-grown farms who are doing local food right, but who cannot, for a whole host of reasons -- high cost, building locations on their properties, or proximity to other commercial operations -- handle the rigors of organic certification. Shear Rock Farms (Santa Paula), K&K Ranch (Orosi), Yingst Ranch (Littlerock), Peacock Family Farms (Dinuba),Yang Farms (Fresno), T&D Farms (Redlands), ABC Rhubarb (Fillmore) and J.J.'s Lone Daughter Ranch (Redlands) are several of these reputable small and certified local growers. Turn the page for an alphabetical list of 5 certified organic farmers: we've seen the certificates and visited some of them.

click to enlarge FELICIA FRIESEMA
  • Felicia Friesema
5. Finely Organics: This is a family-run operation headed up by Christopher Finely. You may not find him running the stand at Hollywood, Santa Monica or Beverly Hills, but you will likely find one of his family members. They are certified organic out of Santa Ynez and have some of the most gorgeous wintertime greens around. They are best known for their kale and baby greens, but we love them for the harder to find unusuals like organic popcorn (still on the cob) and garlic scapes. They also have delectable organic strawberries, too. You can find them at the Culver City, Solvang, Montecito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Monica, Los Olivos, Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Studio City farmers markets each week.

click to enlarge Santa Rosa plums from Flora Bella. - FELICIA FRIESEMA
  • Felicia Friesema
  • Santa Rosa plums from Flora Bella.
3. McGrath Family Farms:

Phil McGrath runs a tight family ship no matter where his stand is. He's best known for amazing Seascape strawberries, but you'd be missing out if you didn't try the huge variety of baby greens, from fava tendrils to spicey mustards, to parsley roots and baby corn. Right now, his winter squash selection is second to none. And sometimes you'll find his fruits preserved in local jams from Sqirl and Farmer's Kitchen. You can find them at the Santa Monica (Wednesday), South Pasadena, Thousand Oaks, Topanga Canyon, Camarillo, Santa Barbara, Beverly Hills, Hollywood and Ojai farmers markets.

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