St. Agnes Catholic Church on West Adams Boulevard draws a different kind of flock on Wednesday afternoons--live chickens. The fowl are offered for sale at just one of the 25 farmers' markets that operate, usually weekly, throughout Los Angeles.
Other farmers' markets can be found in Burbank, Gardena, Torrance, Long Beach, Compton, South Gate, Bellflower and Alhambra--not to mention Santa Monica, which now may be the largest among California's 100 state-certified farmers' markets.
The mix of animals at the West Adams market varies, depending on who is participating, according to Vance Merrill-Corum, a state direct-marketing specialist based in Los Angeles. For example, he said, Esther May Egan of Tulare may bring down geese and ducks, as well as rabbits. Other participants bring live rock crabs and lobsters, or peddle bee pollen and other natural exotica.
These markets were sparked originally by the Southern California Interfaith Hunger Coalition and the Department of Food and Agriculture, which in the late 1970s sought ways of bringing inexpensive food into lower-income neighborhoods while developing new outlets for growers in a time of overproduction. Under state law, only farmers, their families and their employees can sell at these state-certified markets.