The sun is bright and hot in the west, there is a faint smell of soil and earth in the air among the fragrances of fresh flowers and vegetables picked just hours prior. Vendors talk with customers, both sharing ideas and stories, kids laugh and play.
It’s another Friday at the Farmer’s Market in Bishop.
The market, in its sixth week of the year, has moved from its location at the Bishop City Park on Saturday mornings to after 5 on Friday evenings downtown, just off Main Street at Talmadge Park on the corner of Academy and Main streets.
The market is expanding with some entrepreneurs using the market place as a storefront, selling everything from jewelry to wood works to cupcakes to knitted scarves.
The cool temperatures of June made for a slow start to this year’s grow season, a fact admitted by nearly anyone with a garden this year, but that hasn’t stopped growers from bringing what they have down to the market.
“Everyone’s having issues with product,” Dee Younger, one of the market organizers, said.
He said it is still a race to see who will have the first ripe tomato. And, due to the unpredictable nature of gardens, the lineup of growers and sellers so far this year has been inconsistent.
But as the year progresses, Younger added, there are more crafts people with handmade and homespun offerings.
The girls from Short and Sweet Gourmet Cupcakes and Confections sold out of their goodies at the July 22 market, their first since starting up the company in May. Seanna Inderbieten said she and her partner and co-founder, Renee O’Quinn, plan on coming back.
There was also the rare in-person sighting of members of the Secret Sandwich Society outside the realm of the Internet. Sandwich Artist Kymberlee Tabit, Baker Christa Rabbitt and Vegan Specialist Hannah Murray run a lunch operation catering to the health-conscious local. Orders of healthy sandwiches or wraps are made via the Internet and delivered in eco-friendly packaging by bicycle. Since the SSS’ beginning in April, the menu has changed every week with new items every day.
“The Farmer’s Market is a great way to get the word out about us,” said Robert Frankle, SSS business manager. “And, another way to showcase our products.”
Frankle added the market has definitely generated more business.
Ed Cereda, ski mechanic in winter and wood worker in summer, has started to show his wares at the market – detailed bird houses, feeders and other yard art as well as picture frames.
Ed’s Arts and Crafts Woodwork includes lighthouse as birdhouse with boat and a solar-power light, and bird churches with ivy and stained glass. “Every week I try to bring something different,” Cereda said.
He explained that sales are not stellar, but he and potential clients blame the economy. “Times are tough,” he said, even though he noted his products are much less expensive than store-bought.
Cereda said he is getting plenty of exposure and that is worth the very small fee to be a vendor at the market.
“It gives these people a new market and more opportunity,” Younger said of the non-produce vendors.
One non-produce vendor is selling a way to become a produce vendor. Ian Scott has opened Owens Valley Edible Gardens, specializing in garden installation and management.
“I help people with growing their own produce or re-vitalizing an old garden and soil,” Scott said. “I also share the art of composting.”
His philosophy is to feed the soil which feeds the plants which in turn feeds those who grow them.
Scott said he specializes in whatever facet will make a garden more productive. He has the knowledge to help gardeners grow year-round. He said it takes a little bit of getting out of the mental habit that gardens are only for spring and summer. Lettuce, spinach, garlic and other edibles can grow through the winter.
Scott has been living and gardening in the Owens Valley since 1982.
And of course there are the certified organic farmers like Bishop Creek Farms that practices community supported agriculture. Steven Baldwin said he and his gardening partner, Bruce Willey, are in the midst of their first year of selling produce. Baldwin explained community supported agriculture, or CSA, as a pre-sale of sort. The way it works is that residents buy or pay ahead of time to have a bushel of produce delivered to their house weekly.
Baldwin described the market as “very successful and a lot of fun.” He said he sees plenty of smiling faces walking away with a bag full of fresh, locally grown produce.
Baldwin said the time and venue change of the Farmer’s Market has created a bit of confusion. But he said he’s heard from people that the 5 p.m. time fits more schedules than the Saturday mornings of the past.
Younger said the crowds are getting bigger every week, with Talmadge Park becoming a place to go and socialize and support local businesses after 5 p.m. when most of town closes up shop.
“The market is growing in popularity and is in a great location,” Scott said. “We need the community support to help in keeping it going.”
Younger said he hopes to expand the market even more and is asking crafts people and artisans to come and share their techniques and art with others. He said he wants to see more demonstrations and maybe even have wine tasting.
One of Younger’s ideas is to have zucchini beauty contests for the kids, or adults, or strapping some wheels on vegetables and racing them down a track.
Younger said he envisions the market as a place where citizens can rub elbows, buy produce next to or even break bread with city department heads or City Administrator Jim Southworth. “He’s here every Friday,” Younger said of the city’s manager.
Younger added that the market will stay at its current location at Talmadge Park. He said there are pros and cons to the new location, but it is working for now.
“I’m looking for ideas to make this a robust marketplace,” Younger added, “with a community feel.”
For more information, contact the City of Bishop at (760) 873-5863 or Younger at (760) 872-4655.