Weekend in Ojai- The Ojai Farmers Market, A Local Harvest

We decided to end our Weekend in Ojai with a trip to the Sunday Farmers Market. I spend most Sundays at my local market here in Hollywood, so I was most anxious to see what the Ojai market had to offer. After all, Ojai is so much more an agricultural town than Hollywood– so my expectations were quite high. At first glance I was a bit disappointed by the size of the market. It’s so much smaller than the Hollywood Farmers Market and I sorta breezed through the whole thing much too quickly. Seasonal produce, including perfect citrus was certainly represented. But I expected that. Ojai is known for citrus.


And though everything I saw looked great, there certainly was a lot less choice. I was fighting the urge to just get in the car and rush back to Hollywood to stock up on my weekly staples. But how many times have I written on these pages that I admired regional differences, especially in food? Besides in my heart I knew that Ojai was the sort of town that thinks about its food and how it’s sourced. So I cooled my jets and looked around again.


On this second look I started to see a theme. Because Ojai is known for three things: luxury relaxation, local art and its agriculture. That’s when I saw it. I saw what was unique and regional about this Market. You see the Ojai Farmers Market really represents all three of the elements that I most associate with Ojai and it brings them together in one charming spot.


English peasI saw luxurious relaxation represented with fragrant handmade soaps, lavender sachets and more. I saw local artists like P. Lyn Middleton showing her locally produced ceramics. And naturally I saw terrific produce. Much of it grown at smaller more local farms than the vendors I am used to in Hollywood.


One such farm really stood out to me. It’s called Rio Gozo Farm and it is the actual organic farm behind The Farmer and the Cook Market and Café. The very same place I had lunch the day before.


What makes Rio Gozo unique is much more than its two-pronged approach to product placement. The big difference is their commitment to their Community Supported Agriculture Program. CSAs like Rio Gozo provide their members– who buy a season’s share in the farmer’s produce– and receive monthly boxes of the harvest. Which means not only is Rio Gozo giving to the lavender from Ojaicommunity– but the community gives right back. This is a very sustainable model, and makes Rio Gozo a true provider of local produce that’s consumed locally. Which in turn is the freshest way to buy produce in the Ojai Valley, as well as a great way to “know your grower”. So you see, it’s a “vicious circle” in support the local way of life. I like that concept and thinking about it in those terms caused me to look at the Ojai Farmers Market just a little bit differently.


So on my second pass through the stalls I started thinking about just how local this market was, and like I said just how well it brought together the three aspects of Ojai that most define it in my mind.


Beyond the expected citrus, there was locally made olive oil available for sale, fresh eggs, the freshest cut flowers and orchid plants imaginable, hand-woven baskets, organic soaps and skincare. Pretty soon I noticed my weekly veg bag was full. And as I sat down on the lawn next door to take it all in– I realized, heck even the musician was local!




Greg Henry


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