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Vegan for the Holidays

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All the world is nuts about

    What's in The Nut Gourmet

The Nutty Gourmet

Vegetarians in Paradise
The Great Produce Hunt

For a complete current list of farmers' markets click on Certified Farmers Markets in Los Angeles County.


One warm-for-February Saturday morning the two birds of paradise, Zel and Reuben, zoomed down the 5 Freeway to beautiful downtown Burbank to explore the offerings of the Burbank Farmers' Market. What follows is their dialogue of that experience.

Z: People used to speak sarcastically about "beautiful downtown Burbank," but not anymore. Just looking at the pavement at the intersection of Third Street and Orange Grove shows the city has made an effort to improve its image. The three-color star design in the pavement is attractive and quite unique.

R: That was the first thing we noticed when we found a convenient parking spot which is part of the lot where the market is located. Not a gigantic market, this one occupies a part of the Burbank Village Parking Lot right across the street from the modern Police and Fire Department Headquarters.

Z: The market is "O" shaped with a smaller "O" inside of a large "O." Close to the entrance we were treated to the musical sounds of Clark Allen who serenades the shoppers with his guitar and vocal talents.

R: He makes a striking appearance with his Colonel Sanders style white hair, mustache and goatee and was delightful to chat with. In past years he was part of a performance team with actress Bette Davis.

Kiwi Z: As we entered the market one of the first vendors we encountered was Bob Knight who grows oranges and kiwis on his 14 acre farm in Redlands. We quickly learned he was one of the original kiwi growers in Southern California. He planted his first vines in 1972, and they're still going strong.

R: Bob, who looks great for his almost 78 years, is a third generation orange grower. We discovered he was one of nine children whose father would squeeze oranges for his kids every day. He could never quite stomach his father's recipe for mixing the orange juice with goat's milk.

Z: We thought we knew quite a bit about kiwis, but we'd never seen cull kiwis before. Since they grow about twice as wide as they are tall, and don't have the uniform appearance of the standard looking kiwis, they cannot be sold in stores. They are only available at certified farmers' markets. Of, course we had buy some and a bag of his navel oranges,too.

R: He also told us the skin of the kiwi is edible. "You get more fiber that way, " he says. Although Bob grows his kiwis and oranges with organic farming methods, he can't receive organic status because Edison ran a power line across his property and used creosote on the power poles. Too bad!

Z: There were other citrus vendors, too. Jose Flores of J and C Ranch in Filmore showed us his lemons, tangerines, grapefruit, and blood oranges. Gless Ranch from Riverside had bags of oranges, pink grapefruit, lemons, and avocados. One of our readers cautioned us about Gless, saying, "They spray."

R: Sequoia Orchards from Squaw Valley near Fresno were displaying their variety of mushrooms and pure apple juice. We had spoken to John and Hazel Ondray at other farmers' markets, too.

Z: I was quite taken by the Australian orchids at PM Orchid from Panorama City. The sarcochilus variety in four inch pots were quite tempting. They had a photo of one that was blooming with clusters of small pinkish flowers and trailing vines that beckoned. I resisted.

R: You couldn't pass Lim's Bonsai from Gardena. It was that lucky bamboo that keeps calling to you. Everyone we know is going to get a bamboo gift this year.

Fuschia Z: That's because they're "lucky" to know us. You're not the only one who can roll out the corny puns. But the Evergreen Nursery People had a selection of beautiful potted flowers. The Hawaiian Jasmine was fragrantly gorgeous. It almost ended up in our yard! Again, I resisted. They had quite a selection of ranunculas, fuschias, poppies, begonias, calla lilies and more.

R: The Skyline Flower folks are at just about every market. Today they showed beautiful mixed bouquets, pink and orange tulips, ranunculas, and fragrant Oriental lilies.

Tulip Z: Don't forget to mention Triple "R" Nursery from Vista. They had pots with thyme, parsley, chives, mint, and other herbs. What really stood out were the small pots of ivy growing on heart-shaped forms and the goldfish plants with little orange blossoms that looked like mini goldfish.

R: There were plenty of apples to buy. Kosmo Ranch had Fuji and Granny Smith along with dried apples. They're still in transition to becoming certified organic. Rosa Siracusa from Fresno also displayed Fuji apples along with Pink Ladies. I noticed she was affectionately calling all of her customers "baby." She and her husband have been coming to this market for 15 years. In addition to apples, they grow almonds, walnuts, peaches, and olives. They also produce pure, cold-pressed olive oil which they bottle. When we asked how big her farm was, she answered precisely, "lots of acres." Zel kept saying, "I can smell those fragrant dried peaches three feet away."

Z: Culinary Farms from Reseda had just the lettuces I wanted to take home, all kinds of hydroponically grown green and red varieties of batavia, butter, and oak leaf to choose from. They also sold edible flowers and all kinds of fresh herbs. Yasukochi from San Luis Rey had romaine lettuce along with spinach, beets, radishes, turnips, broccoli, and tomatoes.

Cucumber R: Top Veg from Carson, a presence at so many markets, was here with there usual extensive display of vegetables. Zel was attracted to their mizuna, Japanese turnips (kabu), and their New Zealand spinach. We ended up filling our bag here with those items and a kabocha squash.

Z: We had an opportunity to speak to Aunt Polly of Aunt Polly's Products. Aunt Polly is really Marsha Gomez, who has been bottling pickles, sauerkraut, pickled beets, pickled mixed salads, and jellies for five years. She told us that quite soon her line of pickles may be in some of the specialty markets. Her pickles stand apart from others because they have half the salt of any pickle on the market, yet retain outstanding flavor. We wish her well.

R: I hope you noticed her necklace. It was a chain with a little green pickle on the end of it. I mustn't forget to mention Z Ranch. Zubair greeted us by saying, "You're the Vegetarians in Paradise!" We had met him and his wife Zeba at the Westwood market. Today he had asparagus and asparagus tips as well as baby spinach and a spring lettuce mix. We were flattered when he told us his wife is a fan of our magazine. They have their web site at http://www.zranch.com which features recipes, nutrition facts, and farmers' market news. They do a great job growing crops and publicizing their produce. He gave Zel some asparagus recipes and told us to look for his corn in April and organic melons and organic potatoes a little later in the spring.

Z: There are not many non-agricultural vendors at this market, only five we learned. One that stood out was Beautiful Soap and Company. Hugo and Margaret Saavedra grow their own herbs and incorporate them into the attractive soaps that Margaret designs. There are tons of floral and herbal fragrances like lemon verbena, sandalwood, white magnolia, pear, and more. All the soaps are handmade, contain natural Vitamin E, and use no animal products. Hugo gladly gift wraps them for you. They even have a web site at http://www.beautifulsoap.net

R: We spoke to Carolyn Hill, who has managed the market for six years. Before that she managed the Alhambra Farmers' Market and for awhile was managing them both. This market is unusual because it is under the auspices of Providence Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation. All proceeds go to patient care at the Burbank hospital.

Z: The market has about 35 vendors, 30 of those are agricultural. It's one of the oldest in Southern California dating back 18 years. Originally it was started by the Burbank Chamber of Commerce, who soon turned it over to the hospital. Carolyn, who has always had an interest in horticulture and enjoys her work as market manager, estimated that approximately 2,000 people attend the market each Saturday morning.

R: When we asked her how she would describe the market, she hesitated and then said, "It's a neighborly market." In our experience that morning we found her description was perfect.

Burbank Farmers' Market
Third Street at Orange Grove
Saturday 8:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Reviewed March 2000

Click here for past Farmers' Market Reviews

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