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Pescadero Farmer's Market Opening A Big Success

Community comes out in force to support first such venture on the South Coast.

If yesterday's opening was any indication of its long-term success, the Pescadero Grown! Farmer's Market is sure to become a fixture on the South Coast scene.

By the time the market opened at 5 p.m., parking spots in front of its location at Pescadero School were already scarce. Shoppers came to buy locally-grown produce and to say hello to the farmers many patrons already knew as friends and neighbors.

Business was brisk.

"We've made $55 already!" exclaimed Pescadero farmer Airielle Love just 20 minutes after opening her FlyGirl Farm stall for business.

In addition to sunflowers, petite and glossy-skinned zucchini (with and without blossoms on top), yellow squash and a mixture of greens, Love sold tiny planting containers of a variety of herbs such as Greek oregano, peppermint, Italian parsley, and tarragon.

Produce was fresh off the farm — so fresh, in some cases, that the offerings were picked less than two hours before coming to market.

"I worked until 3 and then came back to harvest, wash and pack up [the produce]," said Norka Bayley, a local preschool teacher who started farming with husband Guillermo when he decided to open up organic Del Sur Farm in Pescadero a year ago.

"It's relaxing for me to work outside," she said.

Bayley said that she was glad to hear that the market would accept food stamps and WIC (Women, Infant and Children) vouchers, but was also surprised to hear that no other market in the South Coast area accepted them.

"The families usually go to Half Moon Bay to use their food stamps," said Ariana Salgado.

Salgado, a 14-year-old Pescadero resident, worked with fellow youth Laura Rodriguez and Javier Morales to help set up the stalls for the market organized by South Coast nonprofit organization Puente.

"Now they'll be able to just come by here without having to drive so far," said Salgado.

The opening also provided an opportunity for new farms to sell at a farmer's market.

In addition to Del Sur Farm, Echo Valley Farm and Addwater Farm were celebrating their first growing seasons.

Brian Coltran, who founded Addwater Farm as an educational farm after leaving Fat Cabbage Farms, said he appreciated the proximity of the market from his home.

"I drove 10 minutes to get here," he said. "It's great because I can go back and get more produce if I need to."

Kate and Jeff Haas started Echo Valley Farm on their land in Loma Mar as part of their transition to a new life after their three children left home.

"As a farmer, one of Kate's dreams has been to grow enough to share what we have at a farmer's market," Jeff said.

Farmers Dede Boies and Debbie Harris work with the couple to grow a range of brightly-colored organic produce such as rainbow chard, kale, squash, carrots, cucumbers, radishes and salad greens, all of which were for sale yesterday. Eggs and edible flowers were also available for purchase.

Puente recently started a partnership with Echo Valley Farms to distribute CSA (community supported agriculture) boxes to 15 residents every week at local Zumba exercise classes.

"I just feel like I'm love with Pescadero," said Kate between moments of helping customers select produce.

Her eyes and voice showed the emotion she felt about the outpouring of community support on the market's opening day.

"I am so moved by this," she said.

The Pescadero Grown! Farmer's Market will be held every Thursday from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. in the Pescadero Elementary School (620 North Street) parking lot until November.

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