I love a good farmer’s market – fruits and veggies right from the farm, yummy samples and friendly people. Going to a farmer’s market can be a great way to teach your kids about where food comes from, what’s in season, and how to pick the best fruits and veggies. Plus, when there are samples everywhere, they seem more willing to try out new foods.
If I’m having a weekend dinner party, I especially like the Saturday farmer’s market in Irvine near UCI – there’s a great variety of produce, baked goods, fresh foods and handcrafted items. It’s huge, and has just about anything you could want. It goes from 8 am until noon. One caveat though – if you go after 9:30 or so, it gets really, really crowded. It can be overwhelming for kids, and harder to keep track of them in the crowd. But if you go early, it’s pretty pleasant, and then you can always hit Trader Joe’s right there for any necessities you couldn’t find at the farmer’s market. And if you hang around until 10 am, you can visit Whale of a Tale bookstore with the kids for a literary treat. If you’ve never been to this children’s book store, you should definitely check it out – adorable and packed with books for kids of all ages!
For a more quaint experience, I enjoy the smaller Irvine farmer’s market on Tuesdays. It’s over at the historical Katie Wheeler library (which is a darling library for kids, by the way) from 9 am to 1 pm. There are fewer vendors, so it’s easy to navigate, and we made lots of friends there. I have really fond memories of taking my daughter there as a toddler. She would push her little toy shopping cart through the market, saying hi to all the vendors who happily doled out samples of cookies, nuts, salsa, hummus, and fruit to us. Our favorites were the hummus guy and the Italian cookie lady – their food was SO delicious, and they were always so sweet to us – they would even bring presents for my daughter! Because there isn’t a huge crowd, it’s easy to get around this market with little ones, and everyone is very patient with them. The grounds there are also lovely, so if you come prepared, it’s a great place for a picnic after you do your shopping.
Most recently, we tried out the new farmer’s market at The District in Tustin. It happens on Sundays from 9 am until noon. Because it’s a new market, there was virtually no crowd. We pretty much had the market to ourselves (there were fewer than 10 other people there with us), so it didn’t have the same energy as the others I’ve been to. I’m hoping to see the crowds at this one pick up a bit – the vendors were great and there was a nice variety of items to choose from. They had live music playing, and the band was pretty good, though we did find it funny that it was two guys singing an acoustical version of Brittney Spear’s “Womanizer”. Because it’s in our neighborhood, we’re going to try it again and hope that a few more people have discovered it.
Here’s a list of all the “certified” farmer’s markets in Orange County – http://orange.cfbf.com/cfm.htm. ”Certified” means that every farmer has been inspected by the county to ensure that he/she actually grows the foods being sold.
Do you have a favorite farmer’s market in the OC? How about a favorite farmer’s market vendor?