Health-conscious eaters and environmentally friendly shoppers aren’t just demanding fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables. They’re also concerned with how far the food has traveled. The increase in savvy eaters, sometimes called locavores, is producing a ripe business market for the Farm Store at Kellogg Ranch, which sells seasonal produce that’s grown at Cal Poly Pomona.
“As consumers, we’re always looking for the freshest product,” says Farm Store manager Dawn Taccone. “In a supermarket, you don’t know how long the food has been sitting there.
The Farm Store celebrated its fifth anniversary at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center farmers market in Baldwin Park in March. The store sells fresh produce, plants and gourmet food items also at farmers markets in Irvine, San Dimas and Covina, as well as the Kaiser corporate building in Pasadena.
“Shoppers like knowing that the fruit and vegetables they buy are from Cal Poly Pomona. When something is locally grown, it gets to the table faster,” Taccone says.
Depending on the season, the store offers fresh strawberries, watermelon, corn, avocados, tomatoes, citrus fruits, pumpkins, persimmons, onions and herbs. It also sells Cal Poly Pomona honey, hydroponic lettuce gourmet jams and jellies, and a variety of plants.
At the Baldwin Park location, the medical center’s staff works with the Farm Store to put on monthly cooking demonstrations for healthy meals that use fresh produce. Hospital visitors and staff try samples and receive recipes for dishes such as saut??ed spinach with pine nuts and golden raisins, stovetop sweet potatoes and yogurt parfaits.
“I think it’s been a great collaboration,” says Reyna Del Haro, Kaiser’s director of public affairs. “People really appreciate the Farm Store because the food is fresh and they like the variety. They also like the convenience, and they know the proceeds support education and the local community.”
Customers aren’t the only ones benefitting from the farmer’s markets, says Dan Hostetler, chair of the plant sciences department in the College of Agriculture. Students benefit from the agriculture and business experience, from marketing and selling produce to understanding post-harvest physiology (or what happens to fruit after it’s picked.)
“All this is opening more opportunities for experiential learning,” Hostetler says. “Students are involved with the harvest and the processing. They leave for the markets at 5 in the morning and return around 4 in the afternoon. They’re also interacting with the public at markets.”
The Farm Store is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 4102 S. University Drive. For more information, call (909) 869-4906 or visit www.cpp.edu/~farmstore.
Farm Store Farmers Market Schedule
- Irvine, corner of Bridge and Campus across from UCI – Every Saturday morning
- Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park, 1011 Baldwin Park Boulevard – Every other Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
- Covina, corner of Citrus and San Bernardino – Friday evenings
- San Dimas, Bonita Avenue in front of City Hall – Wednesday evenings during the summer
- Kaiser Permanente offices in Pasadena, 393 E. Walnut Street – Every other Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
(Top photo: Shoppers look for citrus at the Farm Store’s farmers market at the Kaiser Permanente offices in Pasadena on May 12, 2010. Bottom photo: Farm Store employees move a pallet of strawberries.)