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Northridge | VALLEY FOCUS

New Farmers Market Draws 2,000 Weekly

July 07, 1997|CLAIRE VITUCCI

In the mood to try a turkey egg? Have a hankering for a white peach? Recipe calls for not one but five types of mushrooms?

Culinary assistance has arrived for northwest Valley residents with the certified Northridge Farmers Market that set down roots last month.

The Northridge market, the latest to open in the Valley, is set on 21 acres at 18860 Nordhoff St. It has been drawing about 2,000 people every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., organizers say.

The market will be open year-round, offering seasonal fruits and vegetables, said co-manager Alex Weiser. Many of the farmers are local, although some come from as far as Fresno County to sell their produce, he said.

Weiser, who likes to grow "funky potatoes and weird stuff," also sticks to such farmers market staples as grapes, apples, peaches and tomatoes.

David Kruger, deputy agricultural commissioner for Los Angeles County, said the number of farmers markets increases every year. Since 1988, farmers markets in Los Angeles County have doubled to 50, he said. The new Northridge market joins established ones in Burbank, Calabasas, Encino, Glendale and Santa Clarita.

"The growers interface directly with the customers--not a broker or grocery clerk," Kruger said. "It's a neat atmosphere."

The county started certifying farmers markets in 1979 as a way to keep farmers honest and make sure they're growing what they're selling, Kruger said.

"The public . . . wants to have some assurance that the produce is locally grown, fresh and wholesome," he said. "They know, for example, if it's California grown there's a tight control over the use of pesticides. It's a psychological thing."

Weiser's family farms land in Northridge and Tehachapi. To him, farmers markets are a satisfying way of doing business.

"Seeing the person actually eating your product, it's very fulfilling."

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