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Summer tradition grows with fresh, local produce

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Posted: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 10:03 am

For those looking for farm fresh food this summer, it’s likely you don’t have to look far. Farmers markets have popped up in nearly every major town in Calaveras County and business is booming.

On almost any day of the week county residents can rely on quality produce and specialty items being offered at community markets, some of which have been growing for a while.

The Angels Camp Farmers Market is currently on its sixth consecutive year. On Friday evenings residents and visitors can make their way down to Utica Park to enjoy live music, local food and a good time.

“People really appreciate the variety and diversity of our vendors. They can shop their local favorites or purchase something really specific,” said market Manager Shelby French.

The market’s location in picturesque Utica Park has proved to be a huge asset. French noted that many attendees like to bring along their families, meals and make an evening out of the event, rarely just coming to shop and leave.

“I get lots of comments from vendors and visitors. People can take off their shoes, shop barefoot and sit at the picnic tables,” she said.

The Murphys Farmers Market, organized and hosted by Val du Vino Winery on Friday evenings, is also a local favorite that has increased in popularity since its establishment six years ago. In addition to local produce and products from certified market vendors, the winery offers full dinners for $9.50. An example of a recent Val du Vino meal included tri-tip with grilled potatoes and homemade blueberry pie.

“People love to come down and relax. Other wineries don’t stay open too late so this is a nice option for the community,” commented Owen Riding, a seller assistant at Val du Vino Winery and a market vendor.

For residents on the county’s west side, the popular Pickle Patch restaurant has just begun hosting its own market this summer, held every other Wednesday evening. In addition to typical farmers market fare the event features many non-food items.

“I really prefer to call it an open market,” said Pickle Patch owner Gretel Tiscornia.

Some of those non-food items include jewelry, knitting equipment, used books, vintage items and children’s clothing. Tiscornia said that each market offers different vendors and products and it has been a hit with the community with more than 200 people attending the first few markets.

Tiscornia also noted that attendees appreciate the option of having a local evening event in a town that largely shuts down after 5 p.m. when county offices and banks close.

In addition to attending the market, residents can look forward to an additional dinner option without having to leave town. Pickle Patch serves full dinner meals while the market runs, offering up new options each time. Past markets have featured hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and pasta.

For those who would find a weekend market more accessible, Valley Springs hosts its certified Farmers Market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Terrace Plaza, having recently changed it from Tuesday evenings due to heat concerns.

Like Pickle Patch, the Valley Springs market offers myriad products ranging from specialty Asian vegetables, hand-woven Mennonite rugs and even soap made from goat milk.

“People really appreciate the opportunity to shop locally for fresh organic produce and unique local products,” said market coordinator Marlene Williams.

Also like other county markets the Valley Springs market now offers lunchtime meal options for hungry shoppers including on-site barbeque, a Mexican food vendor, Italian ice and kettle corn, all in addition to existing Terrace Plaza restaurants.

Greg Thompson, owner of Terrace Plaza and host to the Valley Springs market, talked about a sentiment that unites all the farmer’s markets held throughout the county.

“We really want to encourage community support of our market and local merchants, we need community support to last,” he said.

Contact Kristine Williams at kristine@calaverasenterprise.com.

© 2015 Calaveras Enterprise. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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