The Wednesday Downtown Farmers’ Market may already be the No. 1 farmers’ market in the hearts of Santa Monicans, but it could soon be seen the same way by rest of the country thanks to its nomination as the Best Farmers’ Market in the USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards.

“When California Certified Farmers’ Markets (CFM) were first established in 1978, they became an overnight success. On any given Wednesday, some of Los Angeles’ top chefs and restaurateurs can be found poring over the fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods at the Santa Monica Wednesday Market. Open year round from 8:30 a.m. – 1: 30 p.m. it is considered southern California’s largest and most diverse grower-only farmers’ market and draws some 9,000 shoppers to its bountiful stalls every week,” reads the description of the market on the 10Best website.

The Wednesday Market is currently resting at No. 10 on a list of 20 nominated markets including Burlington Farmers’ Market in Burlington, Vt., Boulder Farmers’ Market in Boulder, Colo., Santa Fe Farmers’ Market in Santa Fe, Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market in San Francisco, Davis Farmers’ Market in Davis, Calif., and the Union Square Greenmarket in New York.

But Wednesday Market supervisor Laura Avery has high hopes they will take the top slot in the end, and she has some solid reasons to back up her confidence in the market’s chances.

“We’re well known for having LA’s best chefs coming in and shopping every week. We’re kind of a who’s who of LA restaurants. Some of them have been with us since the late ’90s, and as they have come and gone and started new restaurants their touchstone is coming back to the Wednesday market to get the best produce,” Avery said.

“They know the farmers now. They know the seasons. They know what’s coming when. They know when to anticipate when the fava beans are gonna be coming, when the apricots are gonna be there. And they plan to put these seasonal things on their menus. So it’s always exciting when there is a season change and everybody’s is switching from, you know, spring greens into summer fruit.”

Avery takes pride in the market as a “very exciting dynamic place,” where customers have the benefit of the first pick of what is on the farmers’ tables, can share recipes and see the chefs there shopping as well.

She also noted the market’s partnership with the SMMUSD, which has allowed for the addition of a farmers’ market salad bar at every single school in the district.

The market has also partnered with the Gourmandise School of Sweets and Savories located at 395 Santa Monica Pl. to create free classes, taught by local chefs, for students who want to learn to cook with farmers’ market’s ingredients.

“[The school] has lent us the use of their kitchen every Wednesday and Saturday when we have our Downtown Markets, and whenever chef wants to do a ‘Follow That Chef’ cooking class they can come to the farmers’ market with a Gourmandise staff, walk back to the school and then cook something for the students who sign up for these classes,” Avery said.

But even with Avery’s confidence in all the market has to offer, she still knows they need to get the word out if they want to win.

“With the heightened interest in farmers’ markets it’s going to really excite readers to read and vote. Now what we’re trying to do is get our readers to vote. So we’re putting up flyers, farmer’s are asking their customers to vote and we’re trying to get the word out.”

The market has until Aug. 17, when online voting closes, to try and take home the Best Farmers’ Market title. But even though they would like to win, Avery may not be too heartbroken if they don’t.

“I mean we know we’re the best. But it would be nice if the whole country knew it.”

To vote for the Wednesday Downtown Farmers’ Market in the Best Farmers’ Market in the USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards go to http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-farmers-market/wednesday-downtown-farmers-market-santa-monica-calif/.

jennifer@www.smdp.com

 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.