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Four reasons to wrap up your Christmas shopping at your local farmers’ market.

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1) The perfect gift

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If you subscribe to the only-God-can-make-a-tree theory of beauty, then it’s hard to beat the glossy brilliance of a winter squash, or abundant bouquets of deep green kale and rainbow chard. Bags of nuts in rich brown hues. Artisan jams and chocolates. Flowers. Honey. Crafts.

Bring a basket to the market, and fill it with gorgeous heirloom varieties of winter produce, and with products imbued by the grace and charm of the people who made them that are simply unattainable elsewhere.

2) The Faberge of food

Market vendors produce their goods on a scale where they can be very particular about what they make and grow, establishing standards of excellence that are impossible in mass-produced produce or products – it’s the jam that may be hard to find anywhere else (Blue Chair Jam, Frog Hollow Farm), the heirloom apples or squash no one else sells, and the estate-grown table olives and olive oil (Good Faith Farm, Big Paw).

Faberge just made a few eggs, Kristann, the truffle lady just makes a few chocolate truffles (and they're only available online or at the Kensington Farmers' Market). Same thing.

3) A gift twice-given

If you believe that small farms have a place in our economy, and that you should have ready access to bread and pastries from a brick-fired oven, or a unique line of hand made charcuterie (The Fifth Quarter), hand made soaps and creams (Fleischman’s Handmade Soaps), or honey from local hives. head for your local farmers’ market.

Without your support, these products, made with creativity and care, could not exist. When you purchase them, you assure their continuance in the marketplace, and you give a gift that is unique to its maker. You are twice cool for doing so.

4) Where everybody knows your name

Farmers’ markets are unique to the communities they serve. You get to know the vendors and they get to know you. People come to shop, but they also come to see what’s up and make the scene with their neighbors. Little kids dance to the guy who plays the accordion. Grown-ups visit by the popcorn machine. The Boy Scouts sell Christmas wreaths. It’s the life of the community made visible.

You make it happen when you show up.

Photos for this story were taken at the Kensington Farmers’ Market, which meets Sundays, at Colusa Circle.

KENSINGTON FARMERS’ MARKET- Sundays 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Colusa Circle

The last Kensington holiday market will meet Sunday, December 22; the market will not meet on Sunday December 29, but will be back at the Circle on January 5.

BERKELEY FARMERS' MARKETS

The Saturday market wraps up their 22nd annual Holiday Crafts Fair Saturday, December 21, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Center Street and MLK Way in downtown Berkeley. It will be the last market of the year; the weekly markets will resume their normal schedule, Thursday, January 2, with the North Berkeley all-organic market at Shattuck and Rose, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m.

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