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    Celebrate Farmers’ Market Month!

    By Debra Morris–

    We’re celebrating farmers, community, farmers’ markets and you, our farmers’ market supporters, this month! Farmers’ Market Week this year was officially August 4 through 10, but we’re making merry the whole month!

    As demand for local, healthy foods continues to grow, so have the direct-to-consumer opportunities for local farmers and other purveyors of quality products. Farmers’ markets support the livelihoods of over 165,000 small to mid-sized farms and ranches, and account for over $2 billion in revenue that goes directly to the farmer.

    The farmers’ market is the only place, other than the farm itself, where California law allows farmers—or certified agricultural producers, as they are known in state law—to sell the fruits and vegetables of their labor directly to consumers. Without certified farmers’ markets, agricultural producers of rural California would be cut off from the consumers of urban California.

    This is an important distinction: a certified farmers’ market assures consumers that their market purchase is brought to the farmers’ market from the farmers who grew, nurtured and harvested the crops. Certification means that the farms have been inspected and certified and regulated by the State of California. Knowing where your food comes from and knowing that it is locally-grown are important factors when making purchases. Also important is the fact that you can actually speak to the farmers who grew the fruits and vegetables, or who baked the bread, or gathered the honey.

    Farmers’ markets are also a source of revenue for the communities surrounding them, increasing foot traffic to local businesses and offering a pleasant outdoor community gathering place. There is a sense of neighborhood, respecting local community dynamics, and creating a family-oriented environment around the market.

    Farmers’ markets are also a place to educate the public on eating healthy and fresh produce, eating with the seasons, and emphasizing the importance of sustaining and supporting California agriculture. It’s a place where schools bring their classes to learn about where their food comes from, where all of us can learn about new and interesting produce, and where we can find cooking tips and recipes.

    Visit your Castro Certified Farmers’ Market this month—and throughout the season—to see old friends and meet new ones, speak directly to the people who grow our food, pick up the latest recipe, visit a nearby café, and stop by a local shop or other business. Check out some of the community-oriented events such as a summer music series, a health fair, recipe contest, or a cook-off.

    Pick up some of the freshest fruits, vegetables, honey, baked goods, cut flowers, grass-fed meats and fresh-caught fish when you visit. You’ll find it all at your local farmers’ market. Celebrate your local farmers’ markets with us!

    We’re featuring luscious summer melons this month. Stop by Arata Fruit from Byron for some of the best tasting cantaloupe, honeydew and Charlene melons around.

    Savory Melon Salad

    1 cup watermelon cubes 
    1 cup cantaloupe cubes or balls
    1 cup cucumber, sliced
    1/4 cup black olives, pitted and sliced
    6 ounces feta, crumbled
    1 shallot, thinly sliced and macerated in vinegar with a pinch of salt
    Olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste

    Combine watermelon and cantaloupe cubes, olives, sliced cucumber, crumbled feta and the macerated shallots in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Mix gently.

    Debra Morris is a spokesperson for the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA). Check out the PCFMA website for recipes, information about farmers’ markets throughout the region and for much more: