The City of Vista’s Farmer’s Market is one of the longest running markets in the county. “Yep, I’ve been here from 1986,” said Madeline Maciel one of the founders of Maciel Farms in Bonsall.
The unique market requires the seller certify all farmer’s crops homegrown. All artisans and crafters products also have to be hand made. This creates not only a more genuine vibe but also a truly connected community where the buyer and seller have only one degree of separation from the land where the food was grown or the art was formed.
“We enjoy growing all this beauty, then having customers return and tell us how good the baby carrots were, that just really fills our cup,” said Esmerelda Hummingbird of Terra Madre Gardens in Escondido.
The market consists of up to 53 certified farmers, 34 Food Artisans (bread, sausages, cheese) 15 Hot food vendors (ethnic/traditional cuisine) and 15 crafters (clothes, jewelry, gifts, dog treats). Many vendors and customers talked about the feeling of mutual benefit or reciprocity felt from the markets premise of promoting local, sustainable products and practices.
First time visitor Jorge who brought his wife and two kids “We hit that stand over there, Rancho Boreggo Negro, they have homegrown handspun fibers, you cant get any better then that, “said Jorge.
The booth he referred to had owner Kathy Gluesenkamp on a spinning wheel turning wool from a llama into yarn, that she used to make her blankets, sweaters and toy animals. The wool came from Llamas and Alpacas on her farm in Fallbrook.
The fresh air was filled with music, bubbles and sweet flavors of bread, flowers, and barbeque. The family friendly atmosphere is also part of Vista’s appeal with kid’s activities – and an annual Kids market where young entrepreneurs can sell “what ever they want to sell, it’s open to kids five to 17, its getting them involved,” said Market Director Mark Wall.
17-year-old Phineas Jefferies and his younger brother Jengo come from a family of woodworkers. They sell cutting boards, cheese boards and wooden spoons they make at home.
”Its really cool to see people enjoy what I make and to make people happy,” said Phineas. 10-year-old Jengo forms strips of leftover wood trim cuttings into small artistic wall panels. “This one we made a special pattern, you paint them and get a little nail gun, “said Jengo.
Some vendors trade or barter for goods, others customers exchange recipes and healing remedies they have found from natural organic sources. “It’s a cool place with organic farming and the sustainability factors that coincide with it and there’s some decent alternative medicine here too,” said market patron Arnou Zanti.
Each month there is a Wellness event that features local experts, health care providers and health products. Between the booths of non-toxic cleaning products and essential oils I met Tonia Williams, a Doctor at the Heal from Within Family Wellness Center. Tonia’s father died at 60 from pancreatic cancer.
”What came out of that experience was I wanted every single person I knew to know that there’s another way besides drugs and surgery.”
They look at how emotional, chemical and physical stress affects the body. “Instead of adding to the body, we actually remove those interferences. So the body can heal itself,” said Williams.
The Wellness event is coordinated by one of the crafters Joy Blessman who sells handmade, all natural soaps, creams, oils and more. Her company, Bokojo, has sustained her for over 20 years.
“When I started people thought, these soaps are too pretty to use, 22 years later people are much more conscious and they realize the value of natural soaps,” said Blessman.
Bringing together families and diverse products seem to be working as the market regularly brings in over 3,000 visitors every Saturday.
“Some families buy all their fruits and vegetables here and of course it’s a great way to keep the money local and support our local artists,” said Sherry Reynolds, Market manager.
Buying local products reduces energy use compared to purchasing products shipped from across the nation or the world. The market also reduces pollution by using only paper bags, straws and food containers. The sustainable and holistic practices at the market benefit not only the planet but also the people.
The collective change of moving towards sustainable, healthier produce and lifestyle seems to be at odds with all the distractions of fast-food, fast cars and fast Wi-Fi. Maybe the Vista market allows a chance to find a balance.
“A lot of people are into the juicing craze now, they don’t have time to cook so they just blend everything and they drink it raw. Its a lot more healthier and faster because people are on the go now,” said Maciel. As Dr. Tonia Williams shared much of the disease and dysfunction in our bodies is from being overwhelmed with stress or work to the point where our cup overflows.
Unwinding and listening to live music while eating well-known stuffed hash browns along with an organic, apple pie smoothie could relieve you of stress.
A bag of veggies and some soap wont empty the cup and heal you immediately – but could be beneficial long-term.
“We’re getting more knowledgeable, little by little and there’s a collective conscience. That’s just such a beautiful feeling, when you connect with your customers, and you know that they’re eating healthy and then they come back the next week, and they’re like, I made this or they share this recipe and stories with me, that’s what I need, that feeds my soul,” said Hummingbird.
The recipe for soul is also homegrown.