a trip to the north park farmer's market

by Stacy

I have the attention span of a gnat lately — photos unedited, notes scrawled on scrap paper for recipe ideas, a half-finished video, four emails in my saved drafts folder. Each project tempts me down a winding path of more ooh shiny! topics and distractions. So many exciting things to do!

Blogging has turned into something I get to do once I finish my list. The problem is that I want to be blogging, so the other items seem like punishment in comparison. Let’s get back on track!

There are three main reasons I post my bi-weekly CSA share: to identify and demystify some of the “weird” vegetables that are found at farmers’ markets, to help inspire and educate people who may be on the fence about participating in a CSA to tilt one way (or the other – they’re not for everyone), and so I can plan dinner without having to go look in my fridge.

north park farmers market

You’ll still find me at the neighborhood farmers’ market on non-pickup weeks. Our market is every Thursday from 3 to 7pm — I go early so there’s enough light for photos when I get home. This week I thought I would bring you along for my weekly walk. Isn’t the owl logo cute?

San Diego actually has a ton of farmers’ markets. Most (mine included) are small with a few stand-outs.

en route to the market

I try to take a different zigzagging route every time, but I have some favorite neighborhood gardens to walk past. We’re starting to look at houses (that sounds so scary and grown-up!), so it’s all in the name of research.

Someday I shall have bougainvillea

north park neighborhood sign

One feature I love about San Diego is its unique neighborhood signs. Kill some time on Flickr checking them out!

north park farmer's market

north park farmer's market vendors

Hello, North Park Farmers’ Market. The food trucks on the left were new last week. After running the delicious-smelling prepared food vendor gantlet, you reach the produce stalls ahead on the left.

My first stop is always the Suzie’s Farm stall. We pay online each quarter then show up on the appropriate dates to claim our produce.

suzie's farm stand at the market

My friendly marketeer goes and gets my box from the nice, shady truck while I nosily eavesdrop on other people’s conversations.

I’m always impressed how she oh-so-patiently explains, week after week, that no, tomatoes and peppers are not at the markets in May. See the summer squash on the left end of the table (below)? First of the season!

suzie's farm stand at the market

Our original pickup location was at a private residence where I unloaded a box from a stack in the driveway like a veggie thief. They actually sent my first share before they cashed my pre-online-payment-system check, so I sort of was!

my CSA share box

The farm recently began offering smaller CSA shares, but ours is the “large” box which runs $25 per box and contains 10-15 different items. To buy the same items at the market would cost about $30, so you save about 20% by paying ahead and not picking things out yourself.

I consider $12.50 per week for the vast majority of my fresh, organic produce a good deal. For two of us, that’s $6.25 each. Two lattes? A “value meal?” A paperback book?

Other member benefits include specialty produce (like strawberries) when the yield isn’t large enough to sell yet, and special member events (last year we gleaned the strawberry fields).

my favorite market bags

The funny thing about getting “a box” every other week is that you don’t actually get the box.

Say hello to my favorite reusable bags. Grocery store cashiers usually ask where I got them, impressed with their capacity and snap-and-fold storage. They’re from a local grocery chain in Minnesota, much to the cashiers’ dismay.

The good thing is they hold tons of food. The bad thing is they hold tons of food.

my CSA share, loaded to go

The trek back home is a good work out!

… and I’m not even done shopping yet.

cherry season at smit orchards

Next stop: Smit Orchards. We’re BFFs. The end-of-season apple display is relegated to a corner now that spring cherries are stealing the spotlight.

Smit sells apples, peaches, nectarines, cherries, and grapes, all listed in the “Dirty Dozen” most pesticide-ridden foods. Good thing theirs are organic and pesticide-free. (They’re not paying me to say this, but I wish they did so I could spend more money on their delicious fruit.)

On my way out I ogle the goodies from Lisko Imports, Taste Cheese, and Baba Foods even though I don’t buy prepared foods very often.

Last week a gorgeous bottle of balsamic vinegar I am tempted to eat by the spoonful came home with me from Bistro Blends, but they weren’t there for this week’s photo op.

tonya at the salt farm stand

This is Tonya, the mastermind behind The Salt Farm gourmet sea salts where she offers a beautiful variety of natural salts, plus some lovely hand-crafted infusions and blends. I did some serious Christmas shopping with her and was thrilled with both her service and her products.

salt samples at the salt farm stand

They also have lovely serving sets for fancy salts which I would buy in an instant if I thought my husband would not be peeved at my breaking of the firm “no more kitchen items” rule we have set in place. Sigh.

You can do salt tastings at the market which is a great way to compare the subtleties of her products. We got my mom the espresso infused salt (perfect for finishing chocolate chip cookies) and the lavender blend for my mother-in-law (great with lamb, chicken, or beef). The last vial of truffle salt came home with me, however. She adds new combinations all the time so I like to check back regularly.

name that flower

Twenty pounds of produce gets lugged back home past my neighbor’s beautiful flowering vine pictured here. A friend came over the other day and actually stopped to snap a picture on her phone. Aren’t they spectacular? A Facebook friend informed us that they are called “passion flowers!”

Upon my return, the CSA share gets lugged upstairs near my only source of natural light to become the bi-weekly photos you see here. And that’s my routine!

Any questions? Do you have a local farmers’ market? What do you usually buy there?

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Colleen May 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm

First comes love, then comes passion flowers, then comes…passion fruit!


Stacy May 12, 2011 at 4:52 pm

After I saw them blooming the first time I wanted to show them to the hubby, so next time we walked past and were about to stop… a GIANT BEE was there. So we ran away. I am not exaggerating when I say this bee was the size of a small songbird. Since Stephanie says this one is passion fruit-free, perhaps “then comes terror” would also work.


Melissa May 11, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Those cherries look so freaking delicious. I don’t even remember seeing in cherries at my last trip to the grocery store.


Stacy May 12, 2011 at 4:54 pm

I was pretty excited (and just came home with 2 more pounds of them today), especially since the woman at the stand told me they might be in the week prior, but they weren’t! Thanks for stopping by. =)


Kate HR May 12, 2011 at 7:16 am

I use my Lunds bags for my CSA pickup every week! They ARE amazingly sturdy and capacious. :)


Stacy May 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm

We used to go to the Lunds in Northeast, so it was reusable bags or 19 plastic bags. We are so trained to bring them everywhere now! They can even handle trips to Target.


sarah, simply cooked May 12, 2011 at 7:32 am

Fascinating. Thanks for sharing your routine. There is one farmer’s market in Hong Kong that I know about. And I have found a local, organic farm! You have reminded me that I want to sign up for a box! :)
sarah, simply cooked recently posted..five clever ways to use leftover rice-including brown rice pie crustMy Profile


Stacy May 12, 2011 at 4:56 pm

Yay! I hope you do, I love my CSA (… as you might have noticed).


Kate May 12, 2011 at 7:46 am

Oh gosh, the cherries. That’s killing me! We are strawberried out here and ready for some new fruit to come to the market. We go every Saturday and buy our meat and eggs from a local farm, and pick up whatever looks good from the other stands, to supplement the CSA box we just started getting. There are all kinds of wonderful craft vendors there too, but I limit myself to being a browser, and not a buyer.


Stacy May 12, 2011 at 5:01 pm

“Strawberried out” meaning you’re out of strawberries? There is no other explanation, surely… O_O

I always feel bad for looking at the craft stands because I never intend to buy anything and I hate getting their hopes up.


Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator May 12, 2011 at 11:51 am

Stacy, what a lovely trip through my favorite market. I too am backlogged with posts I want to put up, photos that need editing, etc.

That vine is Passiflora caerulea, blue-crowned passion flower, and is one of many gorgeous ones that grow here. It’s not the one that bears passion fruit, however. There are some interesting stories about it… it’s called passion flower because people saw references to Christ’s passion, believe it or not. Something about the numbers of things within the flower. Anyway, that’s about all I remember from my days working at a botanic garden!
Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator recently posted..Spinach salad with oranges and tofu “feta”My Profile


Stacy May 12, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Thank you, resident horticulturist! =) That’s fancy.

Though I’m sorry to hear you’re also feeling behind, I’m glad to have some company.


Kimberly May 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Wait, that’s a real flower? I totally thought they were some tacky garden decoration :) That’s amazing.


Erika May 12, 2011 at 7:28 pm

So…jealous…..fruit looks….aMAzing…

The Mpls Farmer’s Market was a zoo last weekend, but they haven’t opened our neighborhood ones yet. Something about the threat of snow and/or tornados.


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: