There’s always something new to enjoy at the Sunday Mar Vista Farmers’ Market, and with the addition of three eclectic organic produce vendors, visitors keep coming back for more. Several weeks ago, Diana Rogers took me on a tour to meet the new farmers and gave them a chance to showcase their finest wares.
First stop – The Garden Of….. No, it’s not the beginning of a fairy tale; it’s the name of Shu and Debby Takikawa’s farm. The name symbolizes the farm’s evolution over the years.
The Garden Of….. is located on 19 acres in the Santa Inez Valley near Los Olivos. The farm is CCOF certified organic and the Takikawa’s take pride in stewarding the land with care.
What’s for sale at The Garden Of…..: Kale, lettuce, onions, beets, broccoli, summer squash, fava beans, turnips, arugula and strawberries. The Takikawas claim to be the only growers at the Market who grow their strawberries without covering the land in plastic. They cope with the pests and bring fewer berries to market, and they don’t spray even organic pesticides (which can kill good bugs as well as bad) because, as Debby puts it, “keeping our insect balance on the farm is very important to us.”
Pick up a basket of strawberries for $3.50 or some fava beans for $2.50 per pound.
Next, we visited Brett Wyatt from B & T Farm, an urban farmer on a double lot in Hacienda Heights. Brett and his wife Tanya bring an exciting addition to the Market: mushroom kits to grow your own oyster mushrooms at home. Along with their elaborate mushroom farm business in Thailand (where they nurture 30,000 mushroom kits which produce around 100 pounds of oyster mushrooms per day for local markets), they sell kits and vegetable seedlings for home gardeners in Mar Vista.
Grown organically, though not legally allowed to say that since they aren’t certified, Brett sells Armenian cucumber, Thai basil, chocolate mint, oregano, kale, tomato, chrysanthemum greens and Thai chili plants.
When asked about the eclectic mix of seedlings and mushroom kits, Brett revealed the story of how it all began. They moved back to the US and, in response to Tanya’s culture shock around America’s questionable grocery offerings, they started farming to grow what they eat. The abundance remaining is brought to market.
Mushroom kits are $8 per bag. Kale is just $1 a piece. Sunflower sprouts, a very nutritious trend in Thailand are available at B & T Farm’s booth for $2 per bag. All seedlings are $1.50.
Our final stop at the Market was at the new County Line Harvest booth. Located in Coachella valley, they offer certified organically grown melons, okra, cucumbers, beautiful bunches of basil, colorful carrots and more.
This 50 acre farm is known for its greens, but the gorgeous cucumbers and bright yellow melons drew customers in from across the aisle. You can see the farmers’ meticulous care in the vegetables they sell.
Grab salad greens by the pound, or leeks, peppers and fava beans by the handful. Root crops are priced at 3 bunches for $5. Onions, cabbage and cucumbers are $2 per pound, and herbs like basil, mint and dill are a steal at $1.50 each.
Be sure to stop by these new booths to check out what they have to offer. Each one is a great addition to the community and adds to the Market’s diversity.