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At the Santa Monica Pico farmers market: Kiwis, dates, Fuyu persimmons and more

November 28, 2009 |  6:01 am

The Santa Monica Pico farmers market on Saturdays has a lower profile than the big Wednesday venue on Arizona, but it's an excellent market in its own right. It's in an attractive location, the recently renovated Virginia Park, and it's substantial in size, with 35 produce vendors and seven prepared food stalls. Most important, Ted Galvan, who has managed the market since its establishment in 1992, vets the farmers to make sure they actually grow what they sell. Many managers don't bother or don't have the time to conduct farm inspections, but Galvan -- whose family used to own a local chain of Mexican restaurants named Hacienda Galvan -- has visited virtually all of his growers.

Eighty-seven-year-old Harry Nicholas, resplendent in a purple fedora with a faux leopard band, has started to bring Hayward kiwifruit, the standard green-fleshed variety, from his 5-acre planting in Orange Cove, which he picked two weeks ago. He placed the fruits in storage, then briefly treated them with ethylene gas and left them in a warm room for a day to ripen, he said, so they're ready to eat straight out of the tray. Kiwis store well and Nicholas will have them into April, but they're at their sprightliest right now. Nicholas, who also sells at the Santa Monica Wednesday and Beverly Hills markets, displays regular oval-shaped fruits, while some other vendors are selling misshapen packinghouse culls, which don't taste any different, but are not supposed to be sold under state farmers market regulations. Read more here:

-- David Karp

Photo credit: David Karp / For The Times