Fresh fare, fabulous folk
await those who (K)now
Leigh Sauser talks to a customer at her baked goods and yummy chocolates stand at the Victory Park Farmers’ Market on a spring morning recently. © SGE, Inc.
FARMERS’ MARKETS – where the producers get to interact face-to-face with their customers – have been growing increasingly trendy in recent years.
The Pasadena area, where I live, has three of them per week.
Every Saturday morning in the parking lot near Pasadena High School, throngs of people flock to purchase fresh and healthy produce, beautiful flowers, even plants for the garden.
Leigh Sauser is on the other side of the counter.
With a tinge of guilt, I stop at her stall every weekend.
Sauser bakes and cooks up a storm during the week: delicious cookies, other baked goods, chocolate … all the things your doctor tells you to avoid.
“THE REASON I love doing this so very much,” Sauser told me on a recent visit. “… I realized the other day when I was coming to market that I was kind of tired, a little whiny by the time I got here.
“[So I] got set up and my customers started coming.
The difference from a supermarket is obvious in this view of the aisles at the Victory Park farmers’ market. The view in the other direction is of the majestic San Gabriel Mountains. © SGE, Inc.
Then, I felt like a million dollars.”
According to the website of the Pasadena Certified Farmers Market, “if you have never been to a Farmers’ Market, you are in for a real treat.
“You’ll love the experience of buying directly from the farmer that grows the food. What youlll love even more is the fresh, delicious taste of locally grown, nutritious fruits, vegetables and farm products.”
It’s not at all overstated.
Through the bustling lanes between the canvas canopies waft the aromas of freshly baked bread, the scent of newly cut flowers, and the delightful vistas of fresh fruit and vegetables.
IT’S A TOTALLY DIFFERENT experience than buying them at the grocery store. Not only is the produce more fresh, it’s allowed to ripen fully before it is picked – unlike at the supermarket where the fruit and vegetables available are picked green.
There are endless varieties of sweet delicious tomatoes almost year round – the ones in my garden, it seems, all ripen within the same week in August.
Then there all the fresh cut flowers. Much cheaper and fresher than anything you’ll find in the store.
Indeed, I even bought a bougainvillea plant at the farmers market, a couple of months ago; it is now a foot taller and I can see it as I’m writing this.
But what really makes the difference are the people.
The same day I met Sauser, I spotted Philip Bleckmann purchasing a potted orchid. The flowers are what first attracted my attention, but pictures of flowers are just boring without people in them.
Philip Bleckmann purchases a beautiful potted orchid from a vendor at the market. © SGE, Inc.
Without even asking permission, I took a shot of Philip making his purchase. Then I chased after him to ask his permission and get his name. I emailed him the photograph that appears here the same afternoon.
But the vendors are special too.
“It’s a pretty good thing when you love your job and it makes you happy when you’re [doing it],” Sauser said.
She has particular praise for the residents of Pasadena.
“The people of Pasadena are very generous… and they are very smart and they have many interests … and they like to share them and get other points of view,” she said.
Sauser is an authority on the subject; she talks to dozens of people every Saturday.
“It’s a broadly diverse and very caring community…. And they take very good care of me, absolutely.”