This is not your grandma’s hummus.
“Our farmers market offers so many different kinds of hummus now, and it’s so good. It’s great to have on hand for friends and family when they stop by and you just want to have something healthy to offer them with a glass of wine,” said Solvang Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tracy Beard.
On any given Wednesday, farmers, families and neighborhood chefs come together for four hours of tasting and laughter at Solvang’s Farmers Market. The centrally located event is held from 2:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on 1st Street between Mission Drive and Copenhagen Drive.
“It hasn’t changed much over the years. It’s pretty much kept its original flavor. There’s still a large number of local ag producers from the area offering their products,” said Sam Edelman, general manager of Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association.
During summer months, the city’s Third Wednesday events spill over to the farmers market, including live music, the wine-and-beer walk featuring local merchants, and discounts at more than 60 of the community’s businesses. Third Wednesdays also include year-round opportunities including seminars, competitions and charity benefits.
“It certainly helps our businesses in the area. Farmers Market brings the community out right here, it brings our ag guys into town and allows people to do the other shopping they need to do,” Beard said.
Free parking is provided at the city lot on Copenhagen Drive across from Second Street, and there is no fee to attend the market.
The weekly market features locally grown vegetables, fruits, cheeses and meat, including organics. Sprawling trees and shade tents provide shelter from the elements.
Farmers markets on the Central Coast began in their current form in the 1970s, Edelman said, and the association was born in 1983.
“Farmers markets have grown significantly, particularly in the last 10 to 15 years. At this point, they’re only limited in their growth by space parameters,” Edelman said.
The farmers market movement has seen especially strong support as families and professional chefs alike return to organic and locally produced foods. Edelman said chefs from Ballard Inn and Full of Life Flat Bread are frequent visitors at Solvang's market.
“Farmers markets provide direct access to food from your local growers. They tie communities together through food. They’re really important for community sustainability,” Edelman said.
The Solvang market typically includes about 30 vendors, most from the Central Coast. A few from the Central Valley provide stone fruits, but the county’s stronghold crops — salad vegetables and berries — are represented by local farmers.
Staple vendors include The Garden of… and Roots Farms out of Los Olivos, Solvang’s own Creekside Apple Ranch and Finley Family Farm, Jimenez Family Farm, and Morrell Nut and Berry Farm, all of Santa Ynez.
“My personal favorite is the flowers, absolutely, and the strawberries. I just picked up a flat this week. It’s what you do. It puts healthy produce in your refrigerator,” Beard said.
Other vendors represent agricultural communities including Santa Barbara, Goleta, Nipomo, and Arroyo Grande.
Jennifer Best can be reached at JBest@BestFamilyAdventures.com.
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