Thursday, August 7, 2014

Saturday Westside Farmers' Market

My Saturday mornings usually start with a 4am drive to San Francisco for the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market.  On days I get to stay home I like to take my family to our local Saturday Westside Farmers Market, or as we call it in our house the “Farmers’ Market Pump Track”.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how my family does the Sunday Live Oak Farmers Market in Santa Cruz.  This is how we make it to the market on Saturdays.  First we fill the car with 3 kids, bikes, scooters, helmets and a baby stroller.  Next I drop my wife off at the surf statue or lighthouse on Westcliff Dr. She likes to walk along Westcliff and the baby cruises in the stroller with her.  Sometimes Charlie is up for a bike ride with his mom, sometimes Calvin is up for a scooter ride.  The pathway on West Cliff is wide and runs right along the coast (2.9 miles).  Sometimes the boys and I go straight to the market and hit up the River CafĂ© stall for cinnamon rolls.  Once fueled Charlie (5) hits the bicycle pump track directly behind the Dirty Girl Produce stall.  The earlier we get there the more empty the pump track is and Charlie scores a session all alone. 

Last month on my wife’s birthday we incorporated a Wilder Ranch bike ride into our market trip.  We met my parents at the market leaving 2 kids with them and took our 3 year old on Wilder’s Coast Trail via the bike trail that starts near the market.  I measured the round trip from the Farmers’ Market around the Wilder Ranch Coastal Loop and back at 5.8 miles.  I rode my crusty old cruiser pulling Calvin on a trail-a-bike.  We all had a blast riding past draft horses, a historical ranch house, a seal colony, coastal farmland, and the ocean.  It was a good huff and we ended it nicely with a couple chimichurri pulled pork breakfast tacos from Austin and the crew at Back Porch, a New Orleans Iced Coffee from Lulu Carpenters, and live music at the market with friends and family. 

Here are a few more suggestions of activities that you can tie in with your trip to the Saturday Westside Farmers Market:

1)      Visit Natural Bridges State park.
2)      Walk or ride your bike. But if you choose to drive, the Westside market has plenty of easy parking available.
3)      Go to the gym. Toadal Fitness Westside is down the block and they have childcare.
4)      Surf early and hit up the market on your way home.  The Westside and North Coast are loaded with surf spots.
5)      Have breakfast, lunch, or a snack at the market.   
6)      Meet or bring a friend to the market.
7)      Attend a Pop Up Breakfast at the farmers market. 
8)      Stop by the awesome row of warehouse businesses on Ingalls St including El Salchichero Butcher Shop, Santa Cruz Mountain Brewery, and Sawyer Land and Sea Supply.

How do you “make it to the market”—Westside?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sunday Live Oak Farmers' Market

Sunday mornings around my house can be crazy.  Our boys Charlie (5) and Calvin(3) wake up around six o'clock and usually launch straight into a loud raucous of play and quickly discover who between their mom and me wants to sleep more and who is willing to get up and feed them.  Our 5-month-old Pearl usually receives a morning feeding, and then I take her and let my wife collect a little extra sleep by herself.  My goal is to transport our family to the Farmers' Market.  This is my family’s Sunday morning routine for getting to the Live Oak Farmers’ Market and here are a few suggestions to help you make it a weekend ritual too.

First priorities--food, clothing, and caffeine.  I make sure the boys eat enough food that they allow me to help them take off their jammies and put on some appropriate clothing for being in public, knowing that they are going to have something tasty to eat as soon as they show up at the market.  Some of their favorites include rice and beans with queso fresco from Garcia Mexican Food and pepperoni pizza from Uncie Ro's wood-fired pizza oven.  Sometimes I bring scooters, a tricycle, or toys to keep them busy until their friends show up.  I try to eat a light first breakfast at home with a black or green tea so I don't leave the house in rabid desperation and I can really enjoy my first coffee, a cappuccino from Lulu Carpenters, at the market while I check the menu at the Truck Stop (the arepas are my favorite). 

Now, here is one of our family tricks that allows us all to make it to the market with smiles on our faces.  I drive the boys to the market and my wife puts the baby in the stroller and walks to the market (2 miles).  This way I get to arrive at the market early since it is also a place of business for me, and I like spending most of my morning there while my wife enjoys a mellow morning at home with just the baby and then some exercise with a guaranteed ride home.  We usually leave with one or two boxes of produce, so it’s nice to have a car to carry it home with and not have to huff that much produce home on foot for 2 miles. 

Another big thing that allows us all to hang at the Sunday Live Oak Farmers Market is meeting my parents there.  Having Grandma and Grandpa at the market when the kids arrive is huge and allows me to get some early shopping done so I don't miss items that sell out early in the market.  Knowing that they are going to be there is sometimes what gets the boys out of the house and into the car in the first place.  The boys also know that Grandma can be more easily persuaded into getting them a cinnamon roll from The River Cafe or ice cream from the Penny Ice creamery.

Here are a few more suggestions of activities that you can mix with the Sunday Live oak Farmers Market:

1)      Walk or ride your bike.  There is a safe place in the middle of the market to put your bikes while you shop.
2)      Surf early and hit up the market on your way home.  The East side has about 15 surf spots to choose from not counting spots for body surfing, a morning dip, or a beach walk.
3)      Go for a swim at Simpkins Family Swim Center just up the street from the market on 17th Ave.
4)      Bring a cooler to put your produce in so you don't have to go home right away. 
5)      Have breakfast, lunch, or a snack at the market.  That way you are not in a hurry and nobody gets grumpy from low blood sugar.  Our prepared food vendors source from the market.  Grab a table and listen to the live music while you sit and enjoy a meal prepared using fresh, local, sustainably grown produce.
6)      Meet or bring a friend to the market.  Make food a social experience by not just eating with friends and family but by shopping with them as well.  This is also a good way to learn from and teach others about choosing and preparing the food we eat.

What is your Farmers’ Market ritual?