These days it seems like no matter where you live in Southern California, there's a farmers' market or two nearby offering fresh, locally grown fruits and veggies. Yet while farmers' markets in Los Angeles have a long history, (Third and Fairfax passed the 75 year mark earlier this summer) the Gardena Farmers' market, the precursor to all of the community farmers' markets that we know and love, celebrates its 30th anniversary with a special event at 10 AM this Thursday at City Hall.

John Tenerelli, of Tenerelli Orchards in Little Rock, is among the group of founding farmers being honored by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Thursday, and credits the Gardena Farmers' Market with keeping the orchard afloat in those early days. It was more than just a venue to sell the peaches that have made his family's farm famous over the years, but a place to build community. Other farmers that will be honored at the festivities are citrus growers Bernard Ranches and Churchill Orchards, Steve Tamai of Tamai Family Farms in Oxnard and Emily Thacher of Friends' Ranches in Ojai. In addition, some of the area's pioneering market managers, including Pompea Smith of the Hollywood Farmers' Market, will also be recognized for their remarkable contributions.

Of course L.A.'s farmers' markets wouldn't have been nearly as successful if it weren't for their early champions, like the morning's emcee, Evan Kleiman of Angeli Caffe and host of KCRW's Good Food, or impresario Chef Nancy Silverton, most often seen at one of the Mozzas these days, who will be among the area's esteemed chefs in attendance. Don't miss Jonathan Gold, who will be emceeing a salsa contest, the various Arts District/Little Tokyo Farmers' Market vendors, or the announcement of the winner of Occidental College's open call for ideas regarding a permanent farmers' market hub.

Farmers' Market 30th Anniversary Celebration, Arts District/Little Tokyo Farmers' Market, South Lawn of City Hall, 1st and Spring St., Thursday September 3, 2009, 10 AM-2 PM.

LA Weekly