As summer quickly approaches, gardens are beginning to flourish and Mountain Area residents can now choose from a variety of fruits and vegetables at both the Bass Lake and Oakhurst weekly farmer's markets, which opened for the season last week.
The Bass Lake Certified Farmers' Market is held from 4-7 p.m. every Wednesday in the Pines Village at Bass Lake through early fall.
"They've (farmer's markets) got a great blend of vendors for local shoppers" said Dawn Connelly, a returning vendor for Yosemite Sierra Specialties, which has added seasoned salts -- including jalapeno salt -- and dry rubs to its specialty food items.
Returning vendor Sunny Farms' tables were bursting with colorful vegetables and herbs, carrying everything from squash and candy cane beets to parsley and dill. The Clovis farm specializes in mostly Asian vegetables but also has a variety of other vegetables. Although the farm is not certified organic, they practice organic growing. They also sell in San Francisco year-round on Saturdays.
Another returning vendor, Shasky Farms of LeGrand, is a fifth generation family farm. Although they aren't certified organic either, they do practice low input sustainable agriculture and use only natural fertilizers and sprays that are used for organic growing. They grow more than 200 varieties of fruit on 15 acres. They also sell walnuts and almonds and candy the nuts themselves. They even grow Livermore Red Walnuts, a walnut with lower acidity. The Shasky family also sells a lot of new fruit types such as apriums, a cross between a plum and an apricot, and pluerries, a cross between a cherry and a plum.
"I love this place," said Georgia Regert, who has been shopping at the market since it began three years ago. "I wait for it to open. They carry great quality food. There's nothing here that's ever bad."
Oakhurst resident Shelley Mellon came for the first time last year and says she really enjoyed it.
"Everything is fresh as a daisy and if they don't have something you ask about, they'll bring it next week," she said.
Laura's Handmade Soaps is a new vendor at Bass Lake this year. Mariposa resident Laura Coon makes all her soaps out of coconut, olive and soybean oil. She has a variety of scents that include lavender, vanilla, eucalyptus, mint, citrus and even Chanel No. 5.
"I'm addicted to soap making," she said. "What started out as a hobby turned into a business."
Her business began when she got frustrated with soap always making her skin tight so she decided to make some herself. After a few tries, she perfected the recipe and now makes a batch every day.
Three Springs Flower Garden from North Fork, Blossom Trail Honey, and Jammin Jams also returned.
Bluebird Trail Farm, which sells extra virgin olive oil, is new to both farmer's markets this year. Christopher Kieffer grows the olive trees on his 30-acre farm in Coarsegold. He planted the orchard in 2006 in started producing oil three years ago. He grows, picks and mills the oil all on his property. The oil is a blend of three varieties of olives.
Henry and Thelma Pombo have a stand selling a variety of vegetables, fruits and homemade tamales.
Celia Allman specializes in heirloom type vegetables that she says aren't easy to find in the store. She grows her produce at home in Ahwahnee. She also sells artichokes, lettuces, spinach, green beans and tomatoes. She also raises and sells chickens and eggs. She hopes to make her farm a destination farm someday. Wendy Meharg also sells chickens and eggs as well as guinea fowl, which she says are great protection against rattlesnakes.
The Oakhurst Farmer's Market runs from 4-7 p.m. every Thursday through the end of the season at True Value Home Center, 40596 Westlake Drive.
Both markets is open free of charge to the public.
Details: Oakhurst: True Value Home Center, (559) 683-7117. Bass Lake: goodoldaze.com.