Farmers markets keep producing

Fresh produce and a festive atmosphere are calling people to farmers markets in Glendale and Burbank, which are just hitting their seasonal stride as peaches, melons and avocados come in from around the region.

Business is solid at the Harvest Market in the Montrose Shopping Park, said John Drayman, Glendale city councilman and founding director of the Sunday market on Honolulu Avenue.

Drayman said sales are up more than 10% over late last year and in early 2010, with 5,000 visitors each week walking among the farm stands, craft and book stalls, grilled food kiosks and a children's' play area.

On Sunday, sellers reported a range of impacts from the heat wave that snapped Friday.

Cesar Gutierrez said the Hass avocados his uncle grows in Fallbrook made it to market more quickly. "It ripens faster," Gutierrez said. " We had to bring it out faster to the people."

Carole Youngblood said the hot streak had little effect on her family's 10 varieties of peaches in Littlerock, near Palmdale. Instead, the cooler-than-usual summer slowed the pace, pushing the peach harvest back about two weeks.

Philip Garrubba of La Crescenta said the weather affected shoppers more than it did his uncle's seedless grapes from Delano.

"Less people show up when it is hotter out," Garrubba said.

At other markets, business appears to be steady even in a shaky economy as interest grows in buying locally.

Christopher Nyerges, manager of the Thursday Glendale Farmers Market on Brand Boulevard, said, "Income is steadily increasing. The food is fresher, and you can talk to the farmers."

Sarah Dornbos, manager of the Burbank Farmers Market held Saturdays behind Burbank City Hall, said she has a years-long list of farmers who want to get in. Her market does not allow jewelry or other non-farm stalls.

"You are coming to see farmers and meet the people who grow your food," Dornbos said. "That connection is important."

A few steps away, a long line of people waited for the eggs Candy McFarland brought from her family's farm in Ontario. Elias Perales of Burbank said he wanted to steer clear of the salmonella-tainted eggs from Iowa making news across the country.

McFarland has been working the Burbank Farmers Market for all of its 27 years and has seen generations of Burbank residents grow up.

"I had this girl who couldn't reach the table. Now she's a policewoman for Glendale," McFarland said. "It makes me feel old."

At Kenneth Village Farmers Market on Saturday, jewelry maker Marlene Hoffman said she started selling at farmers markets when the economy took its toll on her day job. She's making the most of the shift.

"I've always enjoyed crafting," Hoffman said. "I developed this skill, and I love it. "

At Gigi's Farmers Market in the Americana at Brand, which is held Saturdays, Alicia Mendoza said she comes by whenever she visits Glendale to see her daughter, Veronica Arevalo, and grandson Frankie. Mendoza said she and her husband like the prices and the live bands.

"We enjoy the music," she said. "We actually start dancing."

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