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Great Finds - Old Town Newhall's Farmers' Market
August, 2006 - Issue #22
flowers add vibrant color to the City of Santa Clarita
flowers add vibrant color to the City of Santa Clarita's Farmers' Market held Thursday nights in Old Town Newhall.
My hat is off to the farmers. Their job is difficult, what with the weeds, the bugs and the weather conspiring against them. And that promise God made to Adam in Genesis ("And so, the ground will be under a curse ... [it] will produce thorns and thistles") adds to the challenge.

But despite the long odds, they persevere and coax food from the dirt. The best part is they share the bounty. The only effort required on my part is a trip to the supermarket, or even better, the Farmers' Market in Newhall.

The latter always makes me more appreciative of my food. Every Thursday during the spring and summer, growers from all over Southern California set up shop in an otherwise empty parking lot at 6th Street and San Fernando Road, across from the Canyon Theatre Guild.

They bring what's in season and it's so fresh you measure the amount of time it's been out of the ground or off the tree in hours, not days. "Our produce is always picked the same day," says Yicel Grenados, whose family runs Azteca Farms in Fillmore.

Shopping at the Farmers' Market provides a great opportunity to talk with the folks who grow my food, which can be particularly enlightening. Do you know the difference between brown eggs and white eggs? I didn't until I chatted with Jason Gomez of Gama Farms. Brown eggs come from brown chickens, and white eggs come from white chickens, he says, and brown eggs also have a stronger flavor and darker yolks. Who knew?

Gomez brings dozens of both white and brown down from Bakersfield and they're "one day old, if that," he says. Get there early if you want the brown ones. For some reason, they're more popular. "I'll sell all the brown before I sell one [carton] of the white."

A young shopper eyes a table full of her favorite fruit: strawberries.
A young shopper eyes a table full of her favorite fruit: strawberries.
The growers at the Farmers' Market bring a wide variety of produce, from watermelons to white radishes, to toffee-dipped, chocolate-covered sourdough pretzels. Ok, so not everything offered qualifies as a fruit or vegetable, but in this case, it's still homegrown.

Julie Abernethy is a "Santa Clarita lifer" who quit her job last year to launch Freckle Face Designs, her gourmet candy business. She found the market to be ideal for cultivating a steady clientele for her delectable creations, cooked right here in Santa Clarita. "We see the same people every week," she says. "I have a lady who comes every week and buys her pretzels."

The offerings at the Farmers' Market are diverse beyond candy and veggies. You can also find cheese, roasted sweet corn on the cob, fresh roasted peanuts and gourmet olive oil. Rotisserie chicken and tempting tamales are also available, hot and ready to eat. The City of Santa Clarita, which sponsors the market, even has an arts and crafts tent set up for the kids.

With good food this convenient, I'll never take up farming.

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The Old Town Newhall Farmers' Market runs 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Thursday in the spring and summer at the corner of 6th Street and San Fernando Road.
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