A Tale of Two Farmers Markets

a week's worth of market produce ... and a chicken ... and a pound of coffee
The Hollywood Farmers Market is super important to me. I tried to think of a fancier way to say that, but decided to cut to the chase. I can count the things that are truly important to me on one hand... one hand with six fingers (it happens): education, my relationships, public radio/television, equality, creative expression and food/cooking. Each of those things come into play when I consider the Farmers Market. Even public radio.

Over Thanksgiving, my grandfather asked me if I have many memories of my grandmother--she died when I was in 5th grade. Luckily for me, I do. I used to ride my bike to her house. She'd open the door and see me in my helmet and smile. I'd make a glass of lemonade (from a mix, she wasn't exactly a gourmand) and we'd have a little chat and then I would pedal home. And sometimes she would meet me after school and take me to the Lompoc Farmers Market. I can perfectly picture the woven basket she'd bring with her, I can hear the whistle that signaled buying and selling could begin and I can taste the honey sticks she'd get me. We'd walk through the market, look at produce, she'd buy some and she'd usually run into someone she knew.

beets, I love em

Because of those early experiences with my grandmother, going to the farmers market has always felt like an adventure and treat. I've had to let go of a lot as an adult, including my grandmother, but my relationship with farmers markets has only grown and deepened. I started going to the Hollywood Farmers Market when I moved to the greater Hollywood/West Hollywood area in 2004. Here's an incomplete list of things I learned I liked because of the market: avocados, beets, chard, kale, green garlic, leeks, several kinds of broccoli, sunchokes, brussels sprouts, heirloom cauliflower, pink lady apples, tomatoes, parsnips and fresh chamomile. I buy what I need and I buy what looks intriguing. This is a practice that has made me, I hope, a healthier and more interesting person.

a variety of summer squash
I bring all of this up because I've been thinking of my grandmother a lot lately and also because the buzz at the market last Sunday was that the Ivar street permit wouldn't be granted in the future because of the LA Film School's desire to keep their parking structure entrance clear*. I don't want to speculate on the politics. Other people are far more capable of doing so than myself.
tomatoes: hated as kid, relished as an adult

But I do want to share how important the market is to me. And I'm just one person, one story. The LA Times says 10,000 people a week go to the Hollywood Farmers Market. That is 10,000 stories. 10,000 people with their own market memories (stories and memories I would love to hear, by the way). It's a governing force in my own life. I live within walking distance by design. I meet up with friends there. I can buy vegetables grown in my hometown. The market helps me engage with my community and when I get home and see what all I've bought, I feel like a rich and lucky lady.

The pictures in this post are a small collection of those I've taken at the market over the years. I hope they document the beginning of my relationship with the Hollywood Farmers Market. It would be a pity and a shame if it turns out they're a eulogy.

*Update: After a resolution with the school, the city and the market, the event will continue weekly, according to LAist.

*Update [12/09/10 9:02 AM]: Apparently, the film school did not agree to the compromise offered yesterday, so we're back to not really knowing what is going to happen.