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Albino Pears in Beverly Glen

March 28, 2001|DAVID KARP

The 2-week-old Beverly Glen farmers market strikes a precarious balance between certified produce vendors and nonagricultural booths that offer the likes of tamales, weight-loss kits and Tupperware. Last Saturday, the farmers included honest-to-goodness small growers, larger commercial producers and (most disturbing) several vendors who in the past have been sanctioned by county agricultural commissioners for peddling purchased produce or who seemed to be selling fruits of dubious provenance.

Among honest growers, Vicki Bernard, who works hard on her farms in Riverside and Valley Center, had excellent sweet Washington navels and Oroblancos, along with soft and juicy old-crop Valencia oranges. Kevin Ha of Tehachapi sold his family's famous Fujis, still crisp and sweet after five months in storage.

From Fallbrook, Cheng Lin brought organic limes, lemons, Minneola tangelos and Moro and Tarocco blood oranges (still eating well, though many Central Valley Moros are tasting musty by now). He also had white-fleshed Japanese yams, greenhouse-grown jalapenos and mild, crunchy Yali Asian pears with albino skin, which were protected by bags while growing on the tree. It takes a real enthusiast to grow fruit using this traditional but labor-intensive method.

Norm Fisher of Ojai sold quality Hass avocados, which he started picking last month, in various sizes and stages of ripeness. The large ones had been on the trees for 15 to 18 months and had the most oil, he said. Benjamin Cortez of Santa Maria had Galinda strawberries, a new variety, along with nice fresh lettuces, broccoli and cauliflower.

Scarborough Farm, a large operator with acreage in many locations, had long, thin hearts of romaine lettuce, gorgeous yellow carrots, radicchio and several premium baby greens, including tiny arugula with a surprising peppery kick. Green Farms of Lompoc sold fine asparagus. Most intriguing, Kerry Clasby and John Kennedy, who chiefly sold flowers, also had giant wild chanterelles gathered near Lompoc.

Beverly Glen farmers market, Beverly Glen Boulevard and Beverly Glen Circle, just south of Mulholland Drive, Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon.

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