Santa Rita Flower Farm (Certified Organic)
Santa Rita Flower Farm has joined the market! Don’t let the name fool you completely. They primarily grow assorted vegetables and strawberries (they will have some flowers seasonally). I visited the farm in Lompoc (140 miles from Playa Vista) a few weeks ago before inviting them into our market. Jeff Hendrickson, farmer and owner, took me for a tour of his farm. (See complete photo album here).
Jeff and his wife, Roxanne, have been farming on their own for 10 years now. They currently lease and farm a small 10-acre parcel. Jeff is full-time on the farm and Roxanne manages the sales and distribution side, which is primarily selling at farmers’ markets. She handles 5 markets a week with the help of one to two others, including her friend Suzy (Suzy is pictured above on left with Roxanne). On the farm, Jeff works with a team of 2-3 farm workers depending on the season. Jeff and myself, Mark, are pictured below (Jeff on the right).
Jeff and Roxanne have a long farmers’ market history with both having worked at markets for other farms for many years prior to meeting each other. Farmers’ markets hold a special place in their hearts. Not only because it is the main distribution channel for their farm but also because it is where Jeff & Roxanne first met. They eventually married and started their own farm.
When asked about the current (and potentially ongoing) drought here in California, Jeff (pictured above) considers himself very fortunate that his water supply comes from a well. However, wells can only last so long without replenishment through rain water so he certainly wishes for rain along with everyone else. During my tour, Jeff was quick to point out the benefits of his soil. Roughly half the acreage is a sandy soil with the other half more clay. Jeff mentioned that these types of soil are especially favorable to disease control as the water leaches out easily. Minimizing disease plays an important role in organic farming as your control options are significantly limited. As most organic farmers will tell you, prevention is the key. The farm is Certified Organic via CCOF. It was nice seeing plenty of lady bugs and bees enjoying the day on his property (and working hard for him!).
The farm is currently bringing assorted lettuce greens, kale, carrots, beets, brocolli, cabbage and strawberries to the market. The tomatoes are in the ground so we can expect a nice array of heirloom tomatoes come June. Make sure to say hi to Roxanne this Saturday. And ask her which farmers’ market her and Jeff met at? The answer is an interesting one.
You will find them next to Ha’s Apples and Novy Beef.
Avocado 101 - Tips & Tricks
Ever get frustrated when you can’t find a ripe, ready to eat avocado? Me too! If you’re like me, you like eating avocados all week long and not just the day of or day after the market. But it often seems that most avocados are still hard when I see them at the market! This isn’t a problem once you learn a few helpful tricks about ripening. Avocados are unique in that they ripen once they’re off the tree. This is actually a good thing as it allows you to control the ripening process for a fresh supply all week (or longer), which makes them an excellent bulk purchase. Here is what you do. Place the avocado on your counter and it will ripen on its own (typically 3-7 days depending on firmness).
Need to speed that up? Just place the unripe avocado in a plastic or brown paper bag with an apple, banana or lemon to make it ripen faster. Bagging traps the ethylene gas given off by the fruits and helps the avocado to ripen quicker. A firm avocado placed in a bag will ripen at room temperature in about 2 days and the skin will darken. So buy several avocados and put a few in the bag and a few out and you will be supplied for the entire week!
There are heaps of avocados at the market, especially organic from Ace Ranch and conventional from Castellano’s Farm. Enjoy!
More Avocado Tips
Which is the better avocado to buy? Find out how to identify over-ripe avocados here.
Another Tip: Don’t buy avocados that rattle when you shake them as these are over-ripe (the seed is loose) and their flavor is not great.
And Another Tip: Never refrigerate. This removes the flavor. Keep in mind that all grocery store avocados have been refrigerated.
So when is an avocado actually ripe?
Try this test out (only on your avocados at home, not on avocados you haven’t purchased yet). Grasp the avocado and with your index finger gently press down on the stem. If the stem sinks in gently and with little or no resistance than it is ripe. If the stem does not press down easily than it’s not ripe. Not ripe and over-ripe are both icky. If the stem sinks into the avocado too easily and feels like it’s going into mush than it is over-ripe and it will have a smell between the skin and the meat of the avocado.
Seasonal Night Market Returns - Wed, May 7th
We are happy to announce the seasonal Night Market returns May 7th! Every Wednesday 4pm-8pm (May thru Sept) we will be there in our same Saturday location. Come enjoy some of your Saturday favorites, like Arnett Farms, Urban Oven Pizza, Big Cup Soup and a few new additions. Follow us on Facebook for up to date announcements of new vendors.