Living fresh with San Diego’s local farmer’s markets
A look at the many different markets and where students can go to find them
By Courtney Freeman
San Diego’s consistently sunny weather and year-round agricultural season has made the city an epicenter for fresh produce and distinctive, artisanal goods. Locals and visitors frequent farmer’s markets that occur daily in the diverse neighborhoods of the community. The markets have something for everyone, including live music, fresh foods and beverages, and homemade textiles.
“The fun and friendly atmosphere is what attracts people to the markets,” said USD junior, Eliza Vera, who has worked at various farmers markets across the city for H&B’s Guac Shac and Lotus World Foods.
Her passion for local, fresh food is truly apparent, as she enjoys the laid back environment where individuals have the chance to connect with new people and exchange in the vibrancy of an inclusive communal atmosphere. Vera highly encourages people to visit the markets because of the genuine community feel and opportunity to wholly experience each unique neighborhood in the San Diego vicinity.
Senior Ryan Safar, who frequents the farmer’s market, also understands the opportunity to immerse oneself in the community. However, he mentions the prices as another attraction as well.
“Students are attracted to the farmer’s markets for three reasons: no entry fee, free tasters, and good vibes,” said Safar.
That aspect of affordability plays a huge part in the markets’ popularity. There is a belief among many that the ability to buy fresh, homegrown products causes the prices to go up. The prices, however, are very comparable to the average grocery store largely due to the competition between vendors.
Linda Vista Farmer’s Market is located only a few miles up the road from campus. This makes it ideal for students due to its close proximity and variety of unique selections. At this particular market, you will find an array of food options including homemade pastas, authentic tamales, freshly popped kettle corn and delectable treats that will satisfy any craving. The neighborhood market occurs every Thursday from 2 to 6 p.m. in the Linda Vista Plaza Shopping Center.
Several times throughout the year, USD freshmen make a special trip to the outdoor event as a Living Learning Community (LLC) requirement. This allows students to gain a better perspective on the surrounding community and become fully integrated into the culture around them.
Another popular market within the San Diego community is located in the center of Ocean Beach. This market is a favorite among USD students such as junior Joey Rocha, who attends the market nearly every week.
“The OB Farmer’s Market is the essence of Southern California culture,” Rocha said. “There’s a large selection of locally grown organic produce as well as a wide variety of foods ranging from tamales to sea urchin.”
Safar expands on the wonderful atmosphere of Ocean Beach, mentioning other aspects beyond the vendors that make the market such a spectacle.
“Honestly, you can probably see every vendor in five minutes, but there is so much more than the food that catches your eye,” Safar said. “Specific to OB is the pier 100 yards from the market. I put the cherry on top with a walk on the lowest and longest pier on the Pacific coast.”
The Ocean Beach marketplace truly provides a relaxed ambiance that fully conveys the quintessential Southern California ideal of a vibrant beach town. It occurs every Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. on the 4900 block of Newport Avenue, between Cable and Bacon Streets.
One of the largest and most visited of these bazaars is the Hillcrest Farmers Market, located between Lincoln Street and Normal Avenue. The market runs every Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and showcases over a hundred vendors each week.
Hillcrest is widely known for its acceptance of gender diversity and a wide array of independently owned restaurants, shops and galleries. Its active gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community allows for an open-minded atmosphere that heavily focuses on a dynamic local flair.
Each July, the neighborhood puts on “San Diego Pride” which consists of an energetic parade and an action-packed, two-day showcase in Balboa Park sponsored by the San Diego LGBT Pride Organization. Due to this overwhelmingly supportive community, its local Sunday farmer’s market has become a weekly staple in the routine of residents and sightseers alike.
Local farmer’s markets are a great way to support sustainable agriculture and independently operated farms in the San Diego community. Occasionally, shuttles are offered from campus to the various markets in the area or public transportation can be used. Specifically on campus, La Paloma offers a variety of environmentally friendly foods that come directly from San Diego area farmers and manufacturers. Menu options include seasonal salads, sandwiches, soups and the ever so popular Mongolian grill, which focuses entirely on “clean ingredients.” As USD strives to promote eating fresh and locally, visiting farmers markets is a great way to create a positive effect on the well being of everyone.