Fresh air and fresh food: the vendors of Berkeley Farmers’ Market

Olivia Trimble of Moonlite Bakery

Olivia Trimble, who runs Moonlite Bakery’s stand, grins after a long day of sales. Moonlite Bakery is an all-organic bakery featuring its goods as the downtown Berkeley market. Photo by Andrea Salcedo

BERKELEY, Calif. — Clear skies, pitched tents and live music set the whimsical tone for a stroll through Berkeley’s famous Farmers’ Market.

Both local and nonlocal vendors gathered downtown to sell fresh products, which ranged from organic ice cream to Thai cuisine.

One of these vendors, Olivia Trimble, manages Moonlite Bakery‘s tent: an all-organic bakery with its roots in Berkeley.

When arriving at Trimble’s stand, it didn’t take long to notice that she had a good sales day. The smile on her face and the empty trays showed she had sold most of her baked goods.

“My mom is adamant about organic food,” Trimble said.  The business opened with a focus on sushi, but turned into an organic bakery when its owner saw the healthy food market growing.

Another notable vendor at the Farmers’ Market, Saint Benoît Creamery,  run by Zoe Wadkins, is a French-based creamery that also uses all-organic ingredients, but zero added sugar.

“It’s all local,” Wadkins said. “We’re all local.”

The creamery was founded by Benoît and David de Korsak, who were originally from Sonoma County in France. They primarily sold only plain yogurt, but as they grew more well-known around the state, began to sell fruit flavors as well.

All their yogurts, however, are French-style, meaning that they are made with a French flare. They are milder and creamier than most American yogurts due to the Jersey Cows that are milked in place of traditional Holstein Cows.

“He’s done quite well. He’s becoming known enough to be successful,” Wadkins said.

Saint Benoît Creamery, in addition to using all organic ingredients, uses the bottle system to preserve the environment. Wadkins described the bottle system as a customer buying the yogurt in a bottle, which is approximately $1.50 for each bottle. When the customer is finished with the yogurt, he or she can return the bottle for a full refund of $1.50. This helps the environment and keeps the yogurt free from plastic chips that may come from plastic packaging. Unsold yogurt is either used as livestock feed or given to local schools.

“It really helps to believe in the product you sell,” Wadkins smiled, “Farmers’ markets are the best markets.”

While most of the market stands sell food products, Challenge Horticulture (Half Moon Bay Orchids) freshens the air with fragrant orchids. Challenge Horticulture has grown novelty orchids year-round for the past 14 years, and is known around the Half Moon Bay area for its different versions of the flower.

“The owner basically liked orchids because they have lots of stems,” said Antonio Hernandez, who was running the stand on a recent Saturday. He said that the more stems an orchid has, the more individual plants can be cut and sold from the original plant.

Challenge Horticulture uses the most advanced and innovative floriculture methods to grow their orchids, which are in a climate-controlled 150,000-square -foot greenhouse, and each plant is tended to individually to ensure proper development.

“[Challenge Horticulture's] Orchids last for a long time: 56 years,” Hernandez said, comparing their orchids to those of other companies.

The company not only sells at the Farmers’ Market, but also at many other places as well. Hernandez recalls that most market customers are usually female, and says that he enjoys his job.

“That’s why I come here: to meet new people,” Hernandez said.