Certified farmers markets vary greatly in the types of vendors they emphasize: Some chiefly feature fruits and vegetables, and others crafts and prepared foods. At the Century City farmers market, which opened in August, nonagricultural stands outnumber produce and plant sellers 40 to 12. Office workers enjoying the noontime sun line up by the dozens for tamales and barbecued food, and browse through racks of clothes, cosmetics, incense and jewelry.
Unusual for a farmers market, the only nearby lot is expensive (the closest metered spaces are a seven-minute walk to the northeast, on Santa Monica Boulevard east of Moreno Drive). Since few shoppers care to lug heavy bags back to offices or garages, the produce vendors mostly stand forlorn. In effect, the certified farmers market identity is diluted to that of a flea market.
On the bright side, the Century City market does meet local needs, and harms no one, as long as the trend to "farmers markets" that subordinate farmers doesn't overwhelm produce-oriented events.
Among the offerings Thursday, Green Farms of Lompoc stood out with attractive wicker baskets of fresh cauliflower and broccoli, and thin, tender asparagus. Patrice Powell sold greenhouse-grown Campari and Tradiro tomatoes for Houweling Nursery of Camarillo.