LOS BANOS — Fresh, locally grown produce both familiar and exotic is available for the picking Saturdays in Los Banos.
The certified farmers market opened this month and continues from 7:30 to 11 a.m. Saturdays through Sept. 28 at Pacheco Park, corner of Pacheco Boulevard and Seventh Street.
Marc Marchini, a fourth-generation farmer, said his Le Grand farm's radicchio, almonds and peppers, among other produce, will be available.
"We're really well-known for our corn and vine-ripe tomatoes," the 30-year-old said.
Marchini said his family has been involved in certified farmers markets since 1983, and estimated it makes up 10 percent of J. Marchini Farms. Hisproduce is available in Merced, Madera and Stanislaus counties.
Marchini said many of the farmers he meets at the markets depend heavily on the sales.
"We have a lot of farmers that go there and it's their entire livelihood," he said.
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey published in 2009, more than 25 percent of vendors derive their sole source of farm income from farmers markets. Nationwide, farmers market sales are more than $1 billion, according to the survey.
Yang's Farm makes its money at farmers markets and a fruit stand near the 12-acre farm, according to farmer Yer Yang.
She said fresh and organic fruits, vegetables and herbs are part of the appeal of a farmers market.
"A lot of people like to promote healthy living," the 21-year-old said.
Yang's Farm sells squash, zucchini, carrots and beats, among other vegetables.
Yang, who harvests the family plot, said the farm is known for its strawberries and Asian vegetables, like Thai basil, Asian eggplant and bok choy.
The farm doesn't apply pesticides, and fertilizer is only used to make it through difficult weather, she said.
The Department of Agriculture survey reported that markets with organic products recorded higher customer counts and better sales than their counterparts.
Saturday's market in Los Banos was made up of four vendors, of which one also sold honey.
Government assistance program Women, Infants and Children, or WIC, will have staff on hand to assist WIC recipients during the farmers market on yet-to-be determined dates.
To register for a voucher, contact the Los Banos office at (209) 826-8128.
Down the road
A separate farmers market is up and running in Gustine. It takes place Tuesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. in Schmidt Park, on the corner of Santa Nella Boulevard and Meredith Avenue. For more information, call organizer Mary Ford-Azevedo at (209) 854-2384.
Enterprise reporter Thaddeus Miller can be reached at (209) 388-6562 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.