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All About Apricots!

With stone fruit flooding the farmers market around this time every summer, it can be a little confusing – daunting even – to learn about all of the local fruit of the Valley. Then there are all of the varieties within each fruit family! So let’s keep it simple and focus on just one tasty favorite – apricots!
Apricots are those beautifully orange colored fruits full of beta-carotene and fiber that are one of the first signs of summer in the Central Valley. Fresh apricots with a plentiful supply of vitamin C are in season in California from early May through the end of August.
Relatives to peaches, apricots are small, golden orange fruits, with velvety skin and flesh, not too juicy but definitely smooth and sweet. Some describe their flavor as almost musky, with a faint tartness that lies somewhere between a peach and a plum. 
Apricots are originally from China but arrived in Europe via Armenia, which is why the scientific name is Prunus armenaica. The apricot tree made it’s way to the United Stated when it came to Virginia in 1720, but its appearance in the Spanish missions of California around 1792 marked the fruit’s real arrival. The climate here in California is perfectly suited to apricot culture, and most apricots in the United States are grown primarily right here in the sunny orchards of the Central Valley!
When you buy apricots at the Farmers Market, you are buying straight from the source!
Apricots are rich in many plant antioxidants that provides you with the protective effects of antioxidants while adding very few calories to your daily total.
Looking for new ways to use your apricots? Here are a few quick serving ideas:
  • Add sliced apricots to hot or cold cereal.
  • The next time you make whole grain pancakes add some chopped apricots to the batter.
  • Give a Middle Eastern flavor to chicken or vegetable stews with the addition of dried, diced apricots.
  • Serve fresh apricots in your green salad.
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Come Discover the Visalia Adventure Talks with the National Park Service!

The Visalia Farmers Market is proud to partner with the National Park Service, the Sequoia Parks Conservancy, and the Visalia Convention and Visitors Bureau to bring Visalia Adventure Talks to the Thursday Night Visalia Farmers Markets!

From July 21st to August 25th, there will be unique events, talks, workshops, all celebrating the National Park Service Centennial. Each event will run the duration of our market business hours, from 5pm to 8:00pm, with new and exciting features to discover and explore each week!

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We are very excited to have these amazing events at our weekly Thursday night market, and we hope to see you out at these family friendly and highly educational events! See you there!

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Peach French Toast Recipe

Peaches are in season, and there are plenty of varieties to choose from this summer! Why not give this yummy peach French toast a try? Plan ahead, start the night before!

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup butter
2 tablespoons water
6 fresh sliced peaches
12 sliced day old French bread
5 eggs
1 ½ cups milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Cinnamon, to taste
HOW TO MAKE:
In a saucepan, bring brown sugar, butter, and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
Pour brown sugar mixture into a greased 9x13x2 inch baking dish and top with the peaches.
Arrange the bread over the peaches.
In a bowl, mix the eggs, milk, and vanilla. Slowly pour over the bread.
Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cover and bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.
Uncover and bake 30 minutes longer, or until golden brown. Serve with a spoon. Makes 6-8 servings.
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Farmer Spotlight: Barba Family Farms in Exeter, California

Barba Family Farms is run by Jennifer and Anthony Barba, and their two sons, aged 4 and 6 (these two are the ones who really run the farm!).

Like many of our farmers in the Central Valley, farming is in the Barba families blood. Anthony Barba’s grandfather owned a large portion of farming property in Exeter and parceled out the land to his kids and grandkids. The very last parcel of 20 acres was given to Anthony and Jen Barba.
Jen and Anthony have been selling their produce at farmers markets for 8 years now. While they have visited surrounding markets over the years, the Visalia Farmers Market is their primary and favorite market.

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The Barba family grows and sells a little bit of everything – assorted vegetables, stone fruits, flowers, herbs, free range eggs, and even pork and lamb meat.
Currently, Barba Family Farms are the only farmers selling pork and lamb meat at the Visalia Farmers Market. The family initially got started raising meat animals as a way to utilize vegetable waste from the farmers market, making these locally raised animals fed on superior locally grown products from the market! (You can’t eat more local than that!)
Since deciding to sell meat at the market, the Barba’s have dedicated 15 acres of winter forage for their lambs, which comprises 90% of their diet. The remaining 10% comes from local brewers grain from Brewbakers in Visalia which in turn sources their gourmet non-GMO grain from Europe.
At the moment Barba Family Farms has a very limited supply of pork meat, as they only raise around 10 hogs per year, making the pork products at the market a hot commodity. If you are interested in locally raised pork products, get to the Barba Family Farms booth early to call dibs – all orders are first come, first served!

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Of all the Barba family products, Jen loves growing and selling flowers and unique flowering foods the best. During the spring and summer, the Barba Family Farm table is dotted with flowering artichoke, chive blossoms, fresh lavender, grain stalks and assorted sunflowers. (Jen is particularly partial to the sunflowers!)
But above all, the Barba’s love the community atmosphere at the Visalia Farmers Market, and love seeing their customers, whom they view more as family, every week!

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You can find Barba Family Farms at the Saturday morning Visalia Farmers Market from 8am to 11:30am year round!

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The Eat One Local Food A Day Challenge!

Hello everyone, Gingi Freeman here with the Visalia Farmers Market! As a Visalia Farmers Market shopper and employee, I frequently have customers asking me about or telling me about new vegetables, herbs and fruits that appear on our local farmer’s tables at the market. And there are A LOT of new and unusual foods that rotate in every month (and sometimes every week)!

Sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to taste all of the interesting flavors our local farmers can serve up. Filling your market tote with something new and unknown, and still filling the pantry for the week with the true and tried can sometimes be tricky!
My personal approach to this conundrum? I strive to include ONE new local food a day into my diet. This usually means buying 7 different kinds of fruits, veggies, herbs or nuts at the Farmers Market – one for each day of the week.
Not all of my food choices are designed to push me out of my comfort zone. Some are simply trying a new variety of kale or a farmer’s favorite variety of cherry. Some are foods I have had a thousand times before (I grabbed some good old white onions for one food option this week.) But when I am feeling saucy, I will include some bitter melon greens, Buddha’s hand citron or something similarly adventurous or exotic in the culinary world!
It’s simple (maybe overly so) and might just be the least challenging of food challenges, but it is a fun way to incorporate more local flavor, variety and healthy foods into your life! The market is so much more enjoyable when you shop on a mission!
Remember, variety is the spice of life so give something new a try. You never know….you just might find that new food that you will love!
Are you going to join me and take the Eat One Local Food a Day challenge? Let us know and be sure to hashtag your social media posts with #visaliafarmersmarket
Gingi Freeman
Media Manager, Visalia Farmers Market
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Learn More About Legislation That Affects YOUR Farmers Market

This is a post for the Farmers Market geeks out there! Get a little peek into the inner workings of your local Certified Farmers Market, and learn more about how these laws affect your shopping experience!

AB 1871

AB 1871 was signed into law in September 2014. This requires that farmers and ranchers at Certified Farmers Markets conspicuously post signs or banner that:
  • Identify the name of their farm or ranch
  • Specify the location of their farm or ranch
  • Declare “We Grow What We Sell”, or an equivalent statement
How this affects the Visalia Farmers Markets:
From our founding in 1979, we have always been committed to providing a transparent, hands on experience for the community to come and meet, greet, interact with and purchase fresh produce from local family farmers. As such, signage with the above standards are nothing new to our markets!
When you shop at our markets, you can be certain to quickly identify who each booth belongs to, where the produce was grown or cultivated, and rest assured that our farmers grow what they sell!

AB 2004

AB 2004 was signed into law in January 2015. AB 2004 allow Certified Farmers Markets to now sell and sample locally brewed beer! The law requires that beer vendors:
  • Have their beer ingredients certified and to comply with all requirements for certified producers
  • Sell only beer that was brewed in a brewery in the same, or in an adjacent county
How this affects the Visalia Farmers Markets:
With the law going into effect with the beginning of 2016, The Visalia Farmers Markets were one of the FIRST markets in the state of California to welcome a local brewery into our markets! On Thursday nights and Saturday mornings you can find Kaweah Brewing Company sampling some of their fine, locally brewed ales and beers! Come on out for a sample and to pick up a bottle or two! (Or three! Hey, it’s great stuff!)

AB 2488

AB2488 was signed into law in July 2014. This allows Certified Farmers Market to sell and sample locally produced wines! The law requires that wine vendors:
  • Must sell only wines produced entirely from grapes or other agricultural products they have grown
  • Must bottle their own wines that they have produced
How this affects the Visalia Farmers Markets:
We are extremely excited to welcome wine producers to our markets, ranging from some of our longtime members such as berry grower Rancho Not So Grande now offering specialty berry wines, to new members such as Cacciatore Fine Wines. Keep an eye out for wine tasting at our market in the near future as more and more local wine makers seek to join the Farmers Market scene by producing wines made with locally grown grapes!

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AB 2539

AB 2539 is a preexisting law that was amended in August of 2014. This law deals with environmental health. The cover such topics as:
  • Safety standards for handing and sampling products at the market
  • Sets guidelines for the safe transport of products to and from the market
  • Prohibits smoking within 25 feet of a Farmers Market
How this affects the Visalia Farmers Markets:
The Visalia Farmers Market is committed to providing a safe and sanitary environment for our local shoppers and we have a stellar record of being a market with high standards – both for our farmers and our customers! Not only is the market the best source of fresh, local produce in town, it is also one of the safest and cleanest!
We hope you learned something new about your local Farmers Market! Thank you for being a part of our market family as we grow and expand! See you at the market!