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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise
The Great Produce Hunt

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


The Adams and Vermont Certified Farmers' Market is one of the oldest markets in one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city of Los Angeles. One Wednesday afternoon in March the two birds of paradise, Zel and Reuben visited the market to share their experience with their readers.

Z: In spite of its small size, the Adams and Vermont market offers a broad variety of fresh fruits and vegetables that bring a out a bustling group of shoppers. It's obvious the market offers just what the people in the neighborhood want. The market is held in the school yard and church parking lot along Adams Boulevard just west of Vermont Avenue.

R: Parking was no problem. As we pulled into the lot, we could see two rows of canopies and umbrellas over lines of tables. On the street corner was the sign identifying Saint Agnes Church with the Spanish words Iglesia de Santa Ines beneath the words in English. It was obvious that the church plays an important role in this market.

Z: As we walked past the vendor making shaved ice drinks, we noticed the colorful plant display of Evergreen Nursery from Compton. The red and yellow ranunculus were dazzling! Next to pots of brightly colored annuals were the citrus trees: red grapefruit, Valencia orange, and Meyer lemon. I was especially drawn to the yellow blossoms of the Caroline jasmine. No fragrance but quite pretty.

R: You could also mention the tree roses with their delicate pink blossoms. Unlike other markets, this one did not have a number of plant vendors competing with each other. You couldn't say the same for citrus. Oranges were available from three vendors. J and C Ranch offered honey tangerines, and avocados. Gless Ranch had bags of navels, tangerines, lemons, and red grapefruit.

Strawberry Z: Jess Swope from Fresno sold navels, but they were a small part of his display. There were also Fuji apples, Asian pears, and walnuts in the shell. The raisins were the showstopper at his table. The giant muscats were something we had never experienced. Raisins with seeds? It was hard to imagine, but they were so good I had to take some home. In addition, we took home a gorgeous raisin mix of Thompson seedless, black raisins, and red flame.

R: Ha's Farm from Tehachipi offered three varieties of apples along with the jellies, syrups, and dried apples they bring to so many farmers' markets. We had an opportunity to sample Snow Mountain Fujis, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious. All were delicious, but it was the Fujis that came home with us.

Z: My only disappointment with this market was that no one was selling tomatoes, but then, they are quite expensive this season. Missing were the vine ripened, hot house, and hydroponic ones we have seen elsewhere. But there were plenty of greens and vegetables.

R: Smith Farms from Orange County featured broccoli, snow peas and plump sugar peas, green cabbage, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, carrots, celery, and bright red Camarosa strawberries. Bunches of asparagus, now is season, were stacked next to the strawberries, making an attractive display.

Z: R and S Farms from Riverside had Camarosas alongside Chandler berries. Their vegetable offerings were similar to Smith Farms except for their assortment of leafy lettuce, beets, turnips, and the largest radishes you could ever imagine. Cervantes Farm from Santa Ana brought an assortment very much like the other two but without the strawberries.

R: Little Joe's Farms from Ontario had his giant Camarosas along with Texas sweet onions and carrots. And if people wanted onions there was Gama Farms from Bakersfield with red and brown and a choice of potatoes that included baby red, russet, and white. They also offered carrots, turnips, and garlic.

Nopales Z: Don't forget the nopales, those cactus pads that look like paddleball rackets. People don't think of them as edible but they are. Lightly steamed and marinated, they make a delightful addition to a salad.

R: Poor Aunt Nettie. Now people will be sending her a ton of letters asking how to prepare them. Santillan Farm from Seal Beach also had nopales and all kinds of greens that I couldn't even identify.

Z: Some of those giant greens were collards. They also displayed mustard greens, turnip greens, Chinese broccoli, and rapini. Fresh aloe stalks were cut and bundled in bunches of four. We learned that the pile of bundled green stalks that reminded us of bamboo was pony tail. What they called pony tail was really horse tail. Celia Santillan told us they were used to make a tea that has diuretic properties. She and her husband grow all of this on their 10-acre farm.

R: Those horse or pony tails were about 17 inches long. I'm glad you didn't add them to our herbal tea collection.

Z: I didn't give it a second thought, but I did hesitate at the Cal Pecan table. Those people from Clovis showed up with two varieties of fresh pecans in the shell: Cheyennes and Wichitas. They were slightly different in flavor, but no one could explain the difference. We did learn the Cheyennes were easier to crack and had a rounder look.

Pecan R: What surprised me was they were selling bags of pecan shells. They're supposed to be great for barbecuing. We were told that adding them to the coals gives the food a distinctive flavor.

Z: The ubiquitous one, Dexter of Jazzy Sprouts, was here also. The saxophone serenading was not a part of the scene that day. Dexter, who has been sprouting in a back yard in Reseda for the last 12 years, has plans for building a 30 by 70 foot barn on a half acre lot. This is the first of three buildings he has been planning to house his growing sprout business.

R: He proudly announces that he grows 37 kinds of sprouts. He also admits to marrying a drummer who is a music therapist. We hope they continue their duet together for many years.

Z: We should mention our conversation with Roy Edwards. Roy and his wife Ida have managed at Adams and Vermont for 9 years. Ida was at home that day, but son Josh was on hand to help his dad.

R: The market has between 20 and 25 vendors depending on the season. It is sponsored jointly by the church and Southland Growers Association. The church makes the market set-up easier by shortening the school day each Wednesday.

Z: The Edwards are farmers growing peas, watermelons, okra, and aloe on their farm in Desert Center. The aloe is the basis of Real Aloe Vera, a product they sell at a number of markets. The aloe is made into liniment, shampoo, conditioner, ointment, gel, lip balm, juice, and soap. They've been in the aloe business since 1989.

R: Roy had some personal medicinal testimonials to relate. He had stomach problems before he started drinking a few ounces of aloe juice twice each day. The problems disappeared. His daughter was a candidate for ear surgery for recurrent infections. She tried a similar program three days before her surgery. The aloe was such a successful treatment the surgery was unnecessary.

Adams and Vermont Certified Farmers' Market
West Adams Blvd. just west of Vermont Ave.
Wednesdays June to August 1:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Wednesdays September to May 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Phone: 213-777-1755

Reviewed April 2001

Click here for past Farmers' Market Reviews

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