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A behind-the-scenes look at your farmers market finder

August 1, 2009 |  7:40 am


We're Californians. We like our produce fresher than fresh. We want it picked that morning, if at all possible. And we love our farmers markets. It seemed like a no-brainer to launch an interactive map that featured every single farmers market in Southern California.

But that was just the starting point. We wanted this to be a resource where we could share details about when the season's first crop of mulberries, or white peaches, would be coming to market. We also wanted to know which markets are kid friendly, and which offer a more chef-y vibe. What were the best markets for grazing -- whether it be samples or prepared foods. We also wanted it to showcase one of our favorite features -- Russ Parsons' Cooking through the Seasons -- as well as our timely reports from our Market Watch columnist, David Karp. We wanted it to also link to our ever growing collection of recipes from the Times' test kitchen, as well as any food news.

That couldn't be that hard, could it?

First off, we thought we could use an existing farmers market list as a starting point. But we quickly discovered that much of the information in that list was sadly outdated. So we had to start from scratch. We found lots of great data online, such as here and here. But we wanted to include all five Southern California counties -- Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino. And, to the best of our knowledge, no one has tried to tackle that. (If you know differently, save us some work and tell us!). So we had to get to work. In all, we've had six people helping out on the research. But it seemed that every time we turned around, we learned about a brand new market. Or a market that moved. Or closed. Or changed hours. It was like playing Whac-a-Mole.

So we decided to launch a bare-bones map earlier this year and ask readers to help us with updates. Thanks to all who took the time to share their thoughts with us. The feedback also presented us with a new challenge. We found that folks have different ways of wanting to search for their local farmers markets. Some want to do it by ZIP Code. Or by the name of the market. Some want to search by day of the week. Our tech gurus were on the case. (We promised them tasty vittles in exchange for a job well done.)

So here is the latest incarnation of the farmers market map. We know it's not perfect. (Earlier this week, an editor tried to find her beloved local market using the ZIP search. It returned exactly zero results. Not good. We know it and we're working on it.)

So, keeping that in mind, please put this map to the test. Look up your local market -- check out the location. Do we have it right? Or is our pinpoint a little off? Please tell us in the available comments section so we have the chance to fix it.

Our goal is to make this your go-to-guide to the freshest produce around. Thanks in advance for all your help.

--Rene Lynch