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No Matter How Crafty, It Starts With Produce

March 07, 2001|DAVID KARP

The first new certified farmers market of the season opened on Saturday afternoon in El Monte. It was organized by Your Town Markets, a division of the West Covina Chamber of Commerce, which already operates a market on its home turf and hopes to profit by opening new farmers markets in the San Gabriel Valley.

The sponsors, including El Monte civic and business organizations, chose the unusual Saturday afternoon slot to attract families to the downtown district and to draw farmers who attend morning venues. This is one of the increasingly common but controversial "multidimensional" markets: At the opening, sellers of prepared foods, crafts and other nonagricultural stalls outnumbered certified farmers and flower vendors 26 to 12.

There was some good produce, however, including sweet and juicy Washington navel oranges, Moro blood oranges and Chandler pummelos brought by Ray Takemoto of Lindsay, accompanied by his sist1701978178 Gary Ondray of Squaw Valley had delicious apple juice, along with fine shiitake, cremini and portabello mushrooms. Alberto Gama of Arvin sold white and brown eggs, red and white potatoes, so1970282595 The Ramona Duck Farm offered balut, the Philippine delicacy of fertilized chicken and duck eggs with partially developed embryos. Jorge Webster had wildflower and avocado honey gathered near542599273 Two Hmong families from Fresno provided quality Asian veggies. Chou and May Yang sold several kinds of mustard greens, including gai choy and yu choy, along with kohlrabi, green onions and d1768713262 Berumen Farm of Westminster set out a beautiful display of romaine, green-leaf and red-leaf lettuces, along with cabbage, celery, zucchini, radishes and wonderfully aromatic cilantro.

El Monte farmers market, Center Street between Valley Mall and Valley Boulevard, Saturdays 2 to 6 p.m.

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