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Farmers Market Report

Goodies From Northridge

May 19, 1999|DAVID KARP | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

At the opening of the new Northridge farmers market the Wednesday before last, from 5 to 9 p.m., an eager crowd packed the Fashion Center parking lot on Tampa Avenue south of Plummer Street. A brass brand serenaded, cameras clicked, the speech-givers spoke and antique tractors lent a rustic air.

Last week the throngs diminished, but not the offerings. The Gama farm, based in Bakersfield, displayed quite a mix: sugar and snow peas, green onions, red potatoes, eggs and nopales, cactus pads still bristling with spines (technically called glochids).

At today's market they'll have Brooks cherries--the first good variety of this belated season--from Arvin, the most precocious fruit-growing area in the state. Neighboring Sherrill Orchards brought Sherrill Delight peaches, early indeed but just a tease of the much sweeter and tastier varieties to come.

In the citrus department, you can tell spring has fully sprung when new-crop Valencia oranges take over from navels. Bob Polito of Valley Center had both, along with a tangerine he calls Primavera. Large and flat-shaped, with a bumpy rind and seedless, high-flavored pulp, this oddity exemplifies how farmers markets give growers a chance to experiment with new varieties. Today he'll also have recently introduced Pixie-like mandarins.

Among local producers, Sanfer Farms of Simi Valley sold a mix of 15 varieties of baby greens and edible flowers (including nasturtium, borage and pansy) as well as a bevy of fresh-cut herbs: basil, dill, chervil and chives.

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