A particularly nice Farmers Market in Long Beach is the one held at Marine Stadium on Wednesdays. Unlike most of the city’s Farmers Markets, this one is open from late afternoon to evening from 2 – 7 PM. This makes it ideal for people who wish to drop by on their way home from work. What is better than a dinner planned around high quality produce fresh from a Farmers Market? That is, unless of course you are lucky enough to grow your own.
Another bonus is the location of this Farmers Market adjacent to a picturesque park with an expanse of grass for families who wish to make an occasion of it. Bring a blanket and after shopping the market have a raw food picnic, or splurge on dinner served by the cooked food vendors including the Culinary Coach or the Thai Ranch. For those who are more comfortable “dining,” there are 14 tables under 3 roomy shade tents.
There is a nice mix and arrangement of produce vendors, arts and crafts vendors, and prepared food stands. The main attraction of any Farmers Market, though, is the fresh high quality produce itself. Do yourself a favor and go to the market without a shopping list. Instead, let the allure of the offerings compete with your senses to determine what’s for dinner.
The fruit and vegetables hale from Cypress, Riverside, Oxnard, Brawley, Tehachapi, Nipomo, Bakersfield, and Fresno, listed in order of increasing distance from Long Beach (see map in slideshow). Most of the vendors are not the farmers themselves but people who work for them. Still, they are knowledgeable about what they are selling.
Verni Farms of Clovis in Fresno County travel the furthest of all the produce vendors represented. They sell their very tasty olive oil, several varieties of cured olives, brown turkey figs, and certified organic stone fruit.
The certified organic apples from Ha’s Farm of Tehachapi are especially nice. ‘Pink lady’ is a variety not often found in a grocery store. The small size makes them a perfect snack.
A vendor from Oxnard sells heavy firm heads of cabbage that make wonderful coleslaw with a hint of horseradish flavor. Their other produce is equally good.
The arts and craft vendors also deserve a mention. There are two that sell beautiful products from Peru and other developing countries. One in particular, the Long Beach company named Fair Trade Express, contributes to the sustainable livelihoods of artisans (from countries including Peru and Nicaragua) who have improved their living and working conditions by establishing worker-owned cooperatives. The earrings and pottery were hard to resist.
It is best to consult a map before traveling to the Marine Stadium Farmers Market. Even without the current construction due to the Termino Drain Project that makes navigation a bit tricky, the market is not easy to find. Signage for the market could use some arrows for those less familiar with the area. If somehow it slips past you, keep on looking. This gem of a Farmers Market is well worth the search.
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