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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.


The West Covina Certified Farmers' Market is one of many markets in Southern California created to encourage people in the community to return to the downtown area for shopping. Zel and Reuben, the two birds of paradise, spent one Saturday morning in May at the market to give their readers a birds-eye view of the happenings there.

Z: That Saturday morning was not an inviting day for outdoor shopping. The gray clouds looked like they would dump sprinkles on the shoppers and vendors who were on both sides of South Glendora Avenue at Lakes Drive.

R: South Glendora Avenue is quite wide at this point. It's like two streets side by side with a center walkway between them. One side has angled parking on both sides facing a row of small businesses. The other street faces an Edwards18-screen cinema.

Z: Now that you've confused everyone, let's just say the street was blocked off for the market. There wasn't a huge throng there that morning, but the shoppers could find a variety craft items, farm-fresh produce, and fresh flowers and plants.

R: There were three vendors offering flowers and plants: Kiriya Herunpolkul from Los Angeles, Rodriguez Nursery from Riverside, and Gonzalez Nursery from Monrovia. Kiriya featured lucky bamboo in all kinds of creatively twisted arrangements.

Z: She also had something I had never seen before, the money tree. Picture five twisted trunks intertwined together to create a braided trunk on these trees that ranged in height from 12" to 4'. Kiriya, who emigrated from Thailand two years ago, also displayed crown of thorns cacti with blossoms in eight colors including yellow, pink, green, and red.

Delphinium R: Rodriguez showed colorful cut flower bouquets along with delphiniums, gladiolus, chrysanthemums, and carnations. What really stopped us were the large orange-tipped sunflowers with the wine-colored leaves. Actually, Zel said they were wine-colored, but I prefer reddish brown. I don't know what kind of wine she drinks!

Z: Very funny. Their carnations were really appealing. They displayed pink, white, rose, and orange, but the ones that were most buyable were the pale yellow, variegated ones.

R: Gonzalez had a variety of potted plants that you would want to take home. In fact, Zel decided on a jasmine plant. She couldn't resist the fragrance that is now wafting into the window from our backyard. Along with angel trumpets, they had a variety of roses and tree roses, bougainvilla with pink, orange, or yellow blossoms, and blue and purple hydrangeas. In among all of these beautiful plants was the striking Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow, a bush with delicate lavender blossoms.

Z: Shoppers could purchase citrus from three vendors. Bonnie Kawahata and her brother-in-law Ray Takemoto of Takamoto Farms from Lindsay made their usual 3 1/2-hour Saturday morning drive to bring Valencia and navel oranges and pomelo and oro blanco grapefruits. Bonnie reminded us to come back later in the season for their peaches, avocados, and Fuyu persimmons.

R: Cal Poly's Finest from Pomona also offered Valencia and navel oranges in addition to cara mandarins, lemons and grapefruit. John Iniquez was so enthusiastic about his plump Harvest avocados that we had to take some home and try them. Rosendahl Farms had white and red grapefruit but ----

Z: They had those first-of-the-season bright red Brooks cherries. Mike Rosendahl quickly corrected us by saying the Burlat cherries are the earliest variety. He amazed us when he said there were 32 varieties of cherries grown these days. There were Pink Lady and Fuji apples on the tables along with their great selection of dried fruits.

R: Mike was also whetting our appetites for the blackberries and boysenberries that are coming soon. He also wanted us to watch for the 14 new varieties of pluots. These plum apricot hybrids won't be found in the super markets, but they will be available at the 62 farmers' markets where the family sells its fruits. The Rosendahls, in agriculture since 1957, even find time to put up a web page: http://www.rosendahlfarms.com, and they're planning one more.

Choggia Z: Jaime Farms of City of Industry and San Jacinto displayed an assortment of vegetables that included cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, red and white onions, tomatoes, spinach, cucumbers, romaine and red leaf lettuce, and strawberries. The most unusual item was what they called candy beets. Sliced in half, they revealed alternating red and white rings, like candy canes. Our research revealed their real name was Chioggia, a beet variety brought to the United States from Italy in the 1840's.

R: It never fails. We always find something unique at farmers' markets. Tao Lee, who drives down from Fresno every Saturday, showed us a unique version of cilantro. His had mini white blossoms. Tao, who was born in Laos, came to the United States 22 years ago. He showed us some unique squash that was the result of cross-pollination.

Z: They featured Chinese greens, Laotian basil, broccoli rabe, lemon grass, daikon, green beans, snow peas, star squash, and two types of bok choy. Although he was busy, he took the time to tell us about his produce.

Avocado R: When we spoke to market manager Jerry Dahlberg, he described one of his vendors as a "little old man from Chino, a home grower." The "little old man" turned out to be Luis Guevara who grows avocados, garlic, lemons, tomatoes, and navel oranges on his 1 1/2 acres. He was very generous with samples. I was surprised to see his assistant squeezing lemon juice on the wedges of avocado and oranges.

Z: Jerry, who has been managing the market, described it as a "unique mix of vendors and customers." The local public access channel WCCT (West Covina Community Television) visits the market the second Saturday of each month to film the busy shoppers partaking the morning's activities. The market supports the Edgewood Middle School by offering them a courtesy booth to sell craft projects produced by parents.

R: The market is a project of Your Town Markets, a division of the West Covina Chamber of Commerce. Your Town Markets also operates a market in El Monte and is planning another in Pasadena. Judy Haisman is the general manager of the operation.

Z: Somehow we forgot to come back to the Peanut Dudes who were selling all those peanuts, pistachios, cashews, and almonds. Too bad! I meant to buy some for Aunt Nettie. We also passed on buying some of JB's Kettle Corn. We've become so used to our own homemade air popped corn.

R: We also passed on the Nature's Sunshine homeopathic remedies from Herb Country. I didn't even take advantage of the shoe shine stand where I could also have my shoes repaired. We couldn't possibly pass on the music played by Mark Coon, the disc jockey from Blue Denim Entertainment. His singing along with the karaoke machine could be enjoyed by everyone at the market. As we concluded our visit I was thankful for the short distance back to the car. That four-foot tall jasmine plant was heavy!

West Covina Certified Farmers' Market
West Covina Parkway and California Ave.
Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to Noon
Phone: 626-338-8496

Reviewed June 2001

Click here for past Farmers' Market Reviews

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