It’s no secret that the best place to go for fresh, local food is the farmer’s market. Recently I got a chance to touch base with Kerry Cacciata, the market manager for the Downtown Santa Ana’s Farmer’s Market, the newest farmer’s market to open in Orange County.
The DTSA Farmer's market is fairly new. How did it get started and how long have you been involved?
We are a non-profit group under OneOC created just to start and run this market. I worked closely with two Santa Ana residents, Sean Coolidge and Dennis Lluy, to bring the idea of a market to life. We worked for over a year to obtain all of the necessary certifications and permits, as volunteers for the community. I met them through the DTSA Restaurant Association meetings, as I am a chef and have worked at a number of DTSA restaurants.
Do you have a vetting process for your vendors to make sure that they are local?
The majority of the vendors I approached to join our market. I am familiar with their farms or products through my work in other farmers' markets, or through my career as a chef. All farmers and artisanal food vendors go through an application process where we review their location, permits, licensing, products, etc.
All produce is herbicide/pesticide free, which means they are organic. Not all farmers have the organic certification though, as it can cost upwards of 10k for the farm inspection. Some of our farmers are very small family farms, 2 acres, etc.
Your website says there are cooking demos. Can I get some more information on this?
We are currently working with the health dept. to bring cooking demos to the market. The local chefs and restaurants have been supportive of our market since the planning stages, and will be demoing as soon as we have the proper permits.
One trip to the market can see that the work OneOC has done has paid off. The market has a lovely community feel with live music and creative activities for kids. Every one of the 27 vendors are friendly and more than willing to chat about their products and companies or farms. There is also a definite continued dedication to the community. Kerry told me that the farmer’s market has an application in to be able to accept EBT throughout the market.
I took a trip there on to do my weekly produce shopping. In addition to some fresh in season fruit (including some of the most delicious plouts I have ever tasted), I picked up some goat cheese from Soledad Goats and a wine balsamic vinegar from enFuso that I have to admit I am pretty obsessed with.
Given all of the heat that we had last week, the very last thing I wanted to do was turn on my stove. So I came up with this wonderful salad almost entirely made with produce from the DTSA farmer’s market. (I already had the spinach and pine nuts)
Summer Peach Salad:
2 peaches sliced
1 cup raw spinach
2 tablespoons pine nuts
About one tablespoon of Soledad’s Garlic Goat Cheese.
Roughly two tablespoons of enFusso’s Pear Balsamic Vinegar.
The salad went really well with a heavenly crusty baguette that I also bought at the market.