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Farmers markets ripe with bounty of the foothills

Business
By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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It has been 20 growing seasons since farmers in Loomis and Auburn decided to form an agricultural cooperative. Today, the flourishing Foothill Farmers’ Market operates two year-round sites — Auburn and Roseville — and nine more during summer. Market board chairman Bob Roan said one of the early forces in getting the farmers’ market off the ground was Joanne Neft, owner of the Persimmon Café in Lincoln, and former Placer County Agricultural marketing director. In the early days of the Auburn market, there were 30 to 40 vendors. Now the Auburn location draws 50 or 60. “Now we take up two sides and then bend around,” Roan said. Roan and his wife, Teri Ueki, sell flowers year-round, and add some fruits and vegetables during the summer months. Ueki grows the flowers on their five acres in Auburn. “The first year, it paid for expenses and some of the small equipment we had,” Roan said. “It gave us enough to go on a small vacation. We thought we’d hit it good. But since then the farmers’ market has grown quite significantly and we do this full-time now.” Roan emphasized that the market is certified. “The growers who sell at the market are inspected by the agriculture commissioner,” he said. “What you see on the table is what those people grow (or produce). They’re not allowed to buy someone else’s stuff and resell it. (Visitors) are getting locally produced products. You can talk to the farmer who grew it and he can tell you how it’s grown.” “Back in the early days, we didn’t have the meats we have now,” he said. “Dan Macon and Bob Sorenson bring in fresh lamb, beef and pork. We have a fish seller now. We’ve seen the expansion of all the different fruits in the market — a lot more Asian vegetables like snap peas and bok choy.” The 20th-anniversary year will feature special events, market manager Carol Arnold said. There will be special recognition for the half-a-dozen charter members who are still active and a celebratory dinner in the fall. Another event will feature artist Jan Kapple Klein signing the commemorative posters that she designed. The market continues to grow and change, Arnold said. “We have many new local growers coming into the market, and more and more varieties of local produce,” Arnold said. “In a couple of months, we’ll have beef. We’re optimistic we’ll have organically grown chicken by summer.” Coming down the pipeline are more shopper-friendly additions. Arnold and the board are getting the final details in place for a new farmers’ market on Wednesday nights beginning in 2010 at the Gold Country Fairgrounds. She’d like to see the addition of a portable ATM and someday make it possible for people in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to purchase goods using Electronic Benefit Cards. “It is a very satisfying job,” she added. “I like promoting local agriculture, promoting the idea of shopping local, and I appreciate having the opportunity to help create a sustainable regional food system.” The Journal’s Gloria Young can be reached at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com or comment at Auburnjournal.com. Foothill Farmers Market schedule for 2009-2010 Auburn: Old Town Courthouse parking lot, Auburn-Folsom Road at Lincoln Way Saturdays 8 a.m. to noon, year-round Homewood: Homewood Mountain Ski Resort , 5145 Westlake Blvd. on Highway 89 Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 20 to Aug. 29 Granite Bay: Quarry Ponds Shopping Center, 5550 Douglas Blvd. Sundays 10:30 a.m . to 2 p.m., May 24 to Dec. 20 Roseville: Whole Foods/Fountains Shopping Center, Galleria Blvd. at E. Roseville Parkway. Tuesdays 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round Truckee: Truckee River Regional Park, 10500 Brockway Road off Highway 267 Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 9 to Oct. 13 Kings Beach: Kings Beach SRA, Highway 28 at Bear Street Tuesdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 9 to Sept. 1 Auburn: DeWitt Center, Bell Road off Highway 49, 1st Street between A and B avenues Wednesdays 10:30 a.m to 1:30 p.m. June 10 to Dec. 16 Foresthill: Main Street Wednesdays 4 to 7 p.m, June 10 to Aug. 19 Colfax: Depot Freight Parking Lot Wednesdays 4 to 7 p.m. May 27 to Oct. 7 Tahoe City: Commons Beach, Commons Beach Road and N. Lake Blvd. Thursdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 21 to Oct. 15 Truckee: Thursdays, Donner Pass Road near the train station 4 to 6 p.m. June 25 to Aug. 20