ALL ACROSS AMERICA, FARMERS MARKETS are flourishing. The number of markets has grown to more than 5,300 from 1,755 since the USDA began tracking them in 1994. Total annual sales are estimated at more than $1 billion.
Now there’s a weekly farmers market near the White House, with fresh produce, pasture-raised meats, cut flowers and preserves. To promote parenting, the U.S. government—on Fatherhood.gov—is proposing a trip to the farmers market with your child as a “small way” to build a better relationship.
Locally grown fruits and vegetables—including the tomatoes, peppers, corn and berries now in the foothills’ markets—typically are healthier and better tasting. But they also do not need to be shipped, which “contributes to reducing carbon emissions,” as the website points out. The markets also provide an opportunity for people to gather and connect.
“Before there was Twitter, before there was Facebook, even before there was the Internet, there was already a social community in the simplest form. It is the farmers market,” writes John Lawless in Suite101.com, an online magazine.
The markets in the foothills provide picturesque gathering spots—ranging from the Nevada City Farmers Market in the city’s quaint historic district to the Foothill Farmers Market, which holds a weekly market on the shore of Lake Tahoe, among other locations.
This year, the Nevada County Growers Market relocated from the county fairgrounds to the historic North Star House in Grass Valley. The remarkable stone house, built in 1906, sits on a knoll on the famous gold mine’s property. It was designed by architect Julia Morgan, who designed Hearst Castle.
The fresh, locally grown food at the foothills’ markets remains the main attraction, however. The towns are ideally situated to deliver: The food often is grown on hillsides just a few miles away.
“The diversity of our local communities and many microclimates make for great eating year-round,” according to the University of California Cooperative Extension for Placer-Nevada Counties.
“The same microclimates have also made the region known for its signature crops: hoshigaki (dried persimmons), Mandarins and Meyer lemons.”
The markets are no longer just a warm-weather staple. The Foothill Farmers Market now operates two year-round markets: in historic Old Town Auburn and at the Whole Foods Market at the Fountains in Roseville.
“If the farms can be sustainable, the agricultural landscape would not be eaten up and more people could eat nutritious, locally grown food,” says Joanne Neft, co-author of the Placer County Real Food Cookbook.
Foothill Farmers Market
Auburn Old Town Courthouse parking lot, Saturdays, 8 a.m.-noon
Roseville Whole Foods Market at The Fountains, Galleria Blvd. and East Roseville Parkway, Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
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