Are we farmers market failures?
Here in Southern California we love our farmers markets. But do we love them as much as the folks up north in Davis? Or back east in Ithaca, N.Y.? Or in Sunset Valley, Texas, for god's sake? Apparently not. American Farmland Trust is running a national online poll to determine the best farmers market in America and the only Southern California market in the Top 60 is Santa Barbara's.
Now, there's no arguing that there are great farmers markets all over the country these days. But Ithaca? Given the weather up there, how long can it be open? Two weeks in August?
No, I think the problem is that maybe we've grown just a little complacent. Certainly the Santa Monica and Hollywood markets ought to be on that list. And for that matter, so should Torrance and Pasadena's Victory Park. And I'll bet you can think of a couple more.
Markets in the competition are divided into three size categories, depending on how many vendors attend them. The smallest markets are 30 vendors or smaller and the leading vote-getters so far are something called Smart Markets at Mason, in northern Virginia, and the Collingswood, N.J., farmers market. The Fresno State farmers market is third.
Mid-size markets have between 30 and 55 vendors. Leaders are the Capitol market in Charleston, West Va., the Historic Lewes, Del., Farmers Market, and the Farmers Market at Minnetrista in Muncie, Ind.
Leading the big-market competition are the Davis market, just outside of Sacramento, Ithaca and Sunset Valley. Where in the world is Sunset Valley? Or, maybe more to the point, where in the world is Santa Monica? There's still time to right this grievous wrong. Vote early and vote often.
-- Russ Parsons
Photo: Alex Weiser at the Santa Monica farmers market. Credit: David Karp / For The Times