Fresh Food Flourishes at Big Sur farmers market

Smiling faces, extravagant crafts and vibrant foods highlighted the grand opening of Big Sur’s very own farmers market on Nov. 22, marking the start of Big Sur residents’ access to local and more readily available produce.

The farmers market was run by the Big Sur Education Council and was organized so that a percentage of the profits would go to local schools, ranging all the way from Carmel to San Luis Obispo. Mike Linder, the executive director of the council, hopes that the farmers market will help create lasting connections within the Big Sur community and act as a solution to food deserts, places where affordable and nutritious food is difficult to obtain, based on the geography or economic opportunities of the area.

Linder explains that the market will create an opportunity for the citizens of Big Sur to gain access to fresh food without having to drive long distances to reach it. The council also strives to educate children and citizens within the local community.

“One principle that we strive to teach,” Linder says, “is to see the problems in your community and find a solution.”

Citizens both within and outside the Big Sur community are encouraged to attend the market and bring their own produce and goods. Although the market opening was successful, the council is still hoping to attract more residents looking to buy and sell produce.

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CHS seniors Pyper Witt, Monica deGroot and Oceanna Hain sell fresh foods at the market to raise money for local schools.

Carmel High School students in the Environmental Club were contacted by Linder, and they took part in helping out at the market by working some of the booths.

“I was a little surprised to hear that Big Sur didn’t already have a farmers market,” CHS senior Alexandra Eisinger says. “It seems like the perfect kind of event for this area.”

Senior Pyper Witt, an active member of the Environmental Club, explains that the market will provide many benefits for the environment, as it will limit the amount of driving residents must do while also encouraging them to buy fresh, locally grown foods.

Former CHS students also came out to support the market’s opening. Galen Lanier, a 2012 graduate and Big Sur resident, says, “I was excited to see that a market was opening because it makes getting produce so much more convenient for me and my family.”

Currently, the future timetable for the market is under debate, although the council plans on announcing an official schedule beginning in the spring.

“I would love to see the market take place every two weeks, or even just monthly,” says Tyler Nelson, a volunteer for the council and a teacher at the Gazebo Park School in Big Sur.

Outside of Big Sur, numerous other farmers markets are flourishing, ranging in location from Carmel Valley to Pacific Grove and all the way to Marina.

The Monterey County Weekly recently announced that the opening of Carmel Valley’s own farmers market this spring marked a full schedule of farmers markets in Monterey County, with a different one held each day of the week. Anyone who is interested in finding a fresh meal won’t have to look far.

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Local residents gather in the heart of Big Sur to celebrate the market’s opening.

One of the most well-known local markets is the Old Monterey Farmers Market, which is located on Alvarado Street in Monterey and which happens continually throughout the year every Tuesday evening.

In addition to produce, many other useful goods and items can be bought and sold at farmers markets. The Old Monterey Farmers Market is composed of a variety of vendors and goods that come from all around the world.

“The farmers market in Monterey is definitely my favorite,” junior Savanna Harris says. “They have some of the most amazing and unique jewelry!”

In this day and age, buying locally sourced goods may be one of the best decisions that consumers can make for their community. Not only does purchasing goods from community markets help out the farmers who work them, but it ensures that the customers will be consuming fresh, organic and healthy foods.

–Jessica Dilullo