BERKELEY, Calif.— Every Saturday of the month, early in the morning, people begin working at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market preparing their stands and laying out their produce. But only on the first Saturday of the month will you find a unique farmer who focuses on wine and vinegar. Jim Nofzinger, a Pacifica, Calif., resident, makes the trip to this market to sell not only his vinegar, but also his other homegrown produce.
“When I poured them together it became a big barrel of vinegar,” said Nofzinger. He started out just with wine but an accident occurred and his vinegar was the product. Now he sells two flavors, plum and apple cider. Making the vinegar on the farm he runs himself is difficult, but he enjoys doing it. “I pick the food, process it and come to the market to sell it,” said Nofzinger. Working on his small 125-foot plot he is still able to produce enough for the market. To maintain variety and productivity year-round, Nofzinger grows different crops seasonally.
Nofzinger is proud about the fact that he has an organic certified farm. “I wanted to produce a product that was good for everyone,” said Nofzinger. His vinegar is either 100 percent Satsuma plums or Jonathan’s apples, which he grows himself. The organic certification has to be renewed yearly, costing farms $400 to $500 per year to maintain the certification. But Nofzinger gladly pays this amount because the state of California refunds up to 75 percent of the fee to support organic farms.
At the market, vendors set their prices based on each other as well as the demand of the produce.”Pricing is always a concern; you need to make money but if it is too much people won’t buy it,” said Nofzinger. He knows he can set his prices higher than average because he is selling organic food, which is often considered high quality. This allows him to make a larger profit because he doesn’t spend as money on fertilizers and pesticides. He said, “I just use horse manure!”
He has no plans to expand. “Simpler to stay small. I’m happy. They’re happy.” It is a good way to live he said, because he gets to do what he is passionate about and gets to do it his way.
In the fall Nofzinger plans on adding his wine to the mix, which has won second place at the California State Fair. “Making wine forever,” he said and plans to continue making wine as long as he can. This wine and the vinegar he makes, along with the other produce, is also used in his home. “I like to slice up cucumbers, some red onions with vinegar, a good summer snack,” he said. But Nofzinger says that he can get a little bored of his own produce so he always enjoys the chance to exchange with the other vendors at the end of a long day at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market. To Nofzinger it’s not just a market. Is it like a family? “Yeah, it’s like a big family,” he said.