There’s a new reason to knock off work early on Wednesdays. On May 30th, the long-awaited Altadena Certified Farmers Market made its debut at the south end of Loma Alta County Park, just off Lincoln Ave. on Palm St. in Altadena. The small, weekly market (about 30 vendors) has a prime location next to the Altadena Community Garden, adjacent to the public restrooms. Its manageable size and mix of high-quality vendors promise to make this a popular gathering spot for foodies.
Opening day attracted nearly 1,500 shoppers, including many local food luminaries, from Jonathan Gold (LA Times) to Amelia Saltsman (The Santa Monica Farmers Market Cookbook), Colleen Dunn Bates (EAT: Los Angeles, Westways), and a host of food bloggers and other media folks. Overseeing it all was market manager Joseph Shuldiner (a fellow EAT: Los Angeles contributor and the book’s designer), who has helped push Altadena’s artisanal food community into the spotlight with his locally based Institute of Domestic Technology, which offers classes on a range of cooking and foodcrafting projects.
Shuldiner has also pioneered an effort to bring produce from Southern California’s backyards into the market mainstream, giving shoppers a chance to select seasonal home-grown bounty from tiny urban plots. “We got six backyard growers certified by the County Ag. Commissioner last week,” Shuldiner says. In addition to the backyard plenty, the Altadena market featured produce grown and picked by students at Glenfeliz Elementary School in Atwater Village, and also from Muir Ranch, the 2-acre plot at John Muir High School just down the street.
Plow & Gun Coffee debuted at the market, purveying fresh-roasted beans as well as hot and iced joe and a proprietary coffee soda. Sierra Madre’s Mother Moo Creamery offered an array of frozen treats, a runaway hit on a hot afternoon. Elser’s Country Farm from Yucaipa had a spectacular selection of heirloom lettuces (Yugoslavian Red Butterhead, Flame Oakleaf), while Etheridge Organics offered donut peaches, apricots, blood oranges and yellow nectarines.
Drake Family Farm of Ontario showcased tubs of fresh goat cheese in flavors ranging from onion and garlic to apricot and honey. Silver Lake Farms had a gorgeous display of hand-picked bouquets, while Sqirl offered an intriguing array of flavored artisanal preserves. But more than a few vendors were unprepared for the market’s robust demand; the peripatetic pop-up chef known as Molonay Tubilderborst sold out of his wild-yeast artisan breads almost immediately (he promises more next week).
Other reasons to put the Altadena Market on your calendar: Gary’s Knife Sharpening, The Garden of … from Los Olivos, Kenter Canyon Farms, Dey Dey’s Grass-Fed Beef, Ellwood Canyon Farms, and Deisy’s Salvadoran Pupusas, among many other vendors. At upcoming markets, expect a couple more prepared food booths as well as Shuck’s Oysters, which will offer an oyster, clam and mussel bar. But Shuldiner plans to keep the market small and select. “We have room to expand but we’re doing it slowly,” he says. “I’m super conscientious about curating this thing so it’s the right vibe.”
Altadena Certified Farmers Market, Wednesdays from 3 to 7 PM, 600 W. Palm St., Altadena. Park at the lot at W. Loma Alta Dr. and Sunset Ridge Rd., or on W. Loma Alta Dr. or Palm St.