By Gina Ramsey
The Jacaranda branches were just beginning to fill out, casting shadows over the canopy tents of market vendors. The warm sugary scent of kettle corn enticed customers as they strolled near tables with mounds of shiny apples and containers of bright red cherries. Due to their status as essential food sources for the community, farmers’ markets never closed completely during the pandemic. However, the city health department limited the type and amount of vendors allowed to sell goods at these markets. For over 14 months, only certified agriculture products were sold, such as fresh produce, eggs, honey, and organic chicken.
As restrictions lessened, markets were able to expand the number of vendors from just 10 selling agricultural products only, to almost 30 selling products that include dry prepackaged foods and perishables. Each vendor and customer must continue to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Plastic gloves are also provided by vendors for customers.
Little by little, farmers’ markets are returning to their pre-CoVid business, which is a wonderful advantage for the community, according to Pamela Vigneau-Sears. Sears is the Operations Manager of Farmers Marketplace of Long Beach, which sets up Sunday mornings on the corner of Spring Street and Clark Avenue. At this market, which will be in its 20th year this fall, selling produce is only one of the services offered.
“Our market vendors donate all remaining produce, eggs, etc. to Meals on Wheels and Food Finders,” Sears said. During the worst of the pandemic in 2020, vendors donated 2.2 tons of fresh produce to Meals on Wheels.
“We also organize a Trick-or-Treat event in October with the vendors and customers,” Sears said. “Kids come all dressed up and we give out trick-or-treat bags. During December, we give away 10 Christmas trees to families. These are all the great things our community and customers missed last year.”
As the weather warms up and fruits and vegetables abound, Sears is cautiously optimistic that come summer, all her vendors will be allowed back with zero restrictions. The venue will also offer outdoor seating for customers to enjoy a meal and listen to live entertainment. “[We’d love] to allow our kids’ tables with puzzles, coloring books, and small games,” Sears said.
What better time than summer to grab your canvas bag and take a leisurely stroll through a farmers’ market to sample the season’s bounty, and perhaps even pick up a few artisanal soap bars in the shape of the Millennium Falcon.
Long Beach Farmers’ Markets
Bixby Park Farmers Market
3-7pm (8pm in summer)
100 block of Junipero between 1st & 2nd Streets, 90802
Marine Stadium Farmers Market
3-7 pm (8pm in Summer)
Appian Way & Nieto Ave., 90803
Uptown Bixby Knolls Farmers Market
Atlantic Ave., between 45th & 46th Streets, 90807
Downtown Long Beach Certified Farmers Market
10am - 2pm
N. Promenade, Between 3rd & 5th Streets., Pine & Long Beach Blvd.
Bixby Park Farmers Market
10am - 3pm
100 block of Junipero Ave. between 1st & 2nd Streets, 90802
1) Southeast Long Beach Marina Farmers Market
9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
2nd St. at Marina Dr. near PCH Hwy., 90803
2) Farmers Marketplace of Long Beach
8am - 2pm (winter 1pm)
5000 E. Spring St., Spring St. & Clark Ave., 90808