Local farmers’ markets move toward sustainability

Growing in popularity all over Monterey County, farmers markets are becoming a movement in almost every city. It doesn’t matter where you live in the county: Odds are, there is a farmers market near you–possibly even two.

Locals can be seen flocking to these events for their daily doses of freshly grown vegetables, home-cooked meats and other tasty delicacies that store-bought food simply cannot match.

Every day of the week offers at least one market somewhere in the county—Pacific Grove on Monday, Carmel on Tuesday and Thursday, Salinas on Friday and Monterey, Salinas and Marina on the weekends.

The fact that we live in “the Salad Bowl of the World” only makes it fitting that there should be an abundance of farmers markets in the community.

Farmers market

Carmel Valley farmers market organizer Sharon Cuneo has been working in the industry for upwards of five years and has noticed the recent spike in what she calls “the farmers market movement.”

“It’s a community event, especially out in Carmel Valley where there is really nothing to do anymore,” Cuneo says about the new farmers market in the Village. “The whole community and even lucky tourists have a place to reconnect.”

There are no age restrictions either, as babies and adults alike can wander around, sampling foods they have never tried before.

The driving theory behind the farmers markets is the need to know exactly what people are eating, without the hidden pesticides and genetically modified organisms common in store-bought foods.

“We can’t depend on other people to sustain us,” Cuneo proclaims. “We have to depend on ourselves.”

The Carmel Valley resident has even turned her house into a prep kitchen for her duties at the markets: She makes the abundance of chili in her kitchen and prepares her fine vinegars in the garage.

But Cuneo is not the only one making the effort in the community, as locals all over the county have increased their part in the movement.

Culinary professional Chris Kuhns has been serving succulent tri-tip and pulled-pork sandwiches since the opening of the Carmel Valley farmers market earlier this year.

After attending a one-year culinary class in June of 2006, Kuhns’ career took off with opportunities in restaurants such as Carmel’s La Bicyclette and other high-quality diners. After exploring virtually all of the cooking industry, Kuhns has found contentment in selling excellence at the farmers markets.

One student at Carmel Middle School has been running a stand at the markets ever since his homework assignment morphed into a full business selling honey. Now known as the Carmel Honey Company, Jake Reisdorf’s business is selling his bees’ handiwork and giving a portion of the proceeds to the University of California at Davis Honey and Pollination Center.

The opportunity to get involved is up for anybody’s taking and is a great way to give back to the community, while sharing the company of others who enjoy self-sustainability.
-Lennie Rodriguez