BERKELEY, Calif. — Scanning the sunny horizons of a Saturday afternoon, activity stirs throughout Berkeley’s local Farmers’ Market. The market, tucked in a block bordered by Center and Martin Luther King streets, is known for its organically grown produce and has been operating for about 26 years. The curious onlookers bustle among the sellers’ colorful tents, taking in foods from organic and fresh peaches, strawberries and carrots, to handmade cheeses, chocolates, pastries and more.
Schmidt’s organic Grape Farm attracts customers through the display of its signature Red Flame and and Thomson Seedless grapes. Managing the stand, Nathan Schmidt reveals the roots of the family farm, which began with the vision of his father-in-law, Jim Schmidt. It is now run by his son-in-law and wife who participate in the market every Saturday, when grapes are ready . For 35 years, Schmidt has been harvesting grapes, and the business marked its place among Berkeley vendors beginning in 2003. Another popular Schmidt product sold is raisins, made from organic Thomson’s seedless grapes. The recent addition of non-fruit items, such as Schmidt’s eggs, have also been increasingly popular as they were sold out for the day.
Fresh fruits and vegetables were not the only food attraction appealing to several customers. Approaching the last stands within the market, Carleen Weirauch’s organically produced cheeses stood out. They include the award-winning St. Rose Sheep nd Primo Fresco cheeses. Both Carleen and her husband also operate within an unusual setting: refurbished trailers that now hold the business’s creamery and dairy facility. The Weirauch Farm and Creamery, in Petaluma, Calif., produces the majority of their milky creations from their flocks of sheep, along with cows, whose milk is only used for half the year. The Weinrauch family’s relatively new commercial creamery has been running for a total of three years, and began participation in Berkeley’s local market 18 months ago.
Katie Pomelov has introduced micro greens to the Berkeley Farmer’s’ Market. She adds a twist to the growing process as she plants them in the ground instead of glass jars. Her business, which grew from a hobby, is based in Lake County, Calif.
Her customers said they purchasing the variety of greens, especially forjuicing. Best-selling products include sunflower greens and common bean sprouts.