By Alicia Doyle
Signal Staff Writer
“We are thrilled have a place in Canyon Country on Wednesdays where we can come together as a community for fresh produce, fun and food every week,” said Larry McClements, market manager.
A grand opening ribbon-cutting will take place at 4 p.m. on April 27 at the Canyon Country Community Center, located at 18410 Sierra Highway in Santa Clarita. The market will operate in the “Mercado” area adjacent to the community center’s park, picnic tables and play area.
“We will have a special celebration at that time followed by shopping for farm-direct produce and ready-to-eat food until 8 p.m.,” said McClements, adding that the market will be open every subsequent Wednesday from 4 to 8 p.m. “This will be a year round market and open rain or shine.”
As a resident of Santa Clarita since 1985, “I made the discovery of our farmers markets about 20 years ago — I was shocked at the freshness of everything and the variety,” recalled McClements, adding that much of the produce sold in the supermarkets is two weeks to two months old.
On the other hand, “the produce you’re seeing at our market is 24 to 48 hours old.”
That’s because California’s farmers markets “are highly regulated by the State of California and L.A. County Agriculture — by law, everything in the market is being sold by the farmer who grew it, or one of their employees, and they can only sell what they have grown themselves.”
Everything sold at the farmers market is also seasonal. For instance, “citrus is a winter to spring crop, so you won’t find citrus during the summer, and you won’t find peaches in the winter,” McClements explained. “You’ll only find what is currently in season. But why would you want to eat anything out of season? A lot of produce, when it’s picked,
will lose over half of its nutritional value in a week. So if you’re buying produce that’s several weeks old, it loses its nutritional value.”
Shoppers of the Old Town Newhall Farmers Market, which takes place on Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot of the Old Town Newhall Library, will see some familiar farmers and food artisans at the new Canyon Country Farmers Market.
A wide range of offerings include olive oil, nuts and ranch-direct meats, as well as milk from a dairy farmer. Vendors include Westcoast Seafood, which has more than 40 years in the industry; Blue Ridge Honey of California, which provides several raw, local honey varieties; Harvest Gathering Farm,
which specializes in pasture-raised beef, pork, chicken and lamb; and Little’s Loaves & Boole’s, which offers artisan loaves, baguettes, English muffins and more. Additionally, Fiesta Taco Grill will bring refreshing aguas frescas, salsa and tacos; and Ray’s Trolley Stop will bring authentic New Orleans food.
For those who continue to struggle financially due to the pandemic, recipients of SNAP benefits – also known as pandemic EBT or CalFresh benefits – can use these funds to purchase food at the Canyon Country Farmers Market.
“You can utilize that to purchase market money,” McClements explained. “We also match dollar for dollar up to the first $10 in free money. So if you charge $10 on your EBT card, you get $20.”
And, “we manage ongoing produce donations to local low income seniors.”
Ultimately, “our focus will always be on supporting small businesses and bringing amazing and unique products to you,” he further emphasized.
The Canyon Country Farmers Market “is very much a community-thing…it’s a great place for people to come together and make new friends and visit existing friends. We try to make it a good time and place for people to come and have a great experience. Everything we have is local … and the benefit is that you’re getting produce and products that are fresher and better than you can get in supermarkets – and at the same time, you’re supporting our local small businesses.”
For more information, visit www.canyoncountry farmersmarket.com, m.facebook.com/Canyon CountryFarmersMarket/ or www.instagram.com/ canyoncountryfarmersmarket/