The farmer behind the food

Farmers' Market sign

Photo by Libby Morris

BERKELEY, Calif. — Annabelle Lenderink can be found at the same place almost every Saturday. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., she and her employees sell a variety of fresh produce at the Ecology Center’s farmers’ market in downtown Berkeley.

 After a cool summer with little rain, Lenderink returned to the market for the first time this season on August 2nd. While in past years, she usually returned in July, this years’ unyielding weather has pushed back her arrival to the market.

Vegetables at the farm stand

Lenderink sells a variety of vegetables, such as beans, cucumbers and fresh greens. Photo by Caroline Parks

“It’s always a bright day when Annabelle’s back,” said Dylan Cardiff, a representative from the Ecology Center. “Annabelle is a goddess of organic farming in every respect,” he added.

Vendors, as well as regular customers, greeted Annabelle with a hug to welcome her back into the farming community.

Lenderink’s farm, La Tercera, specializes in unusual French and Italian crops. She and 6-8 year-round employees run the farm in Bolinas, a town 30 miles away from downtown Berkeley.

 Her mission, according to the Ecology Center, is to find forgotten vegetables and to reintroduce them to her customers. Eighty percent of the vendors at the market are certified organic, and Lenderink has been proud to be a part of that group since 2002.

“I’ve never been anything but organic,” Lenderink said. While she doesn’t look down on farms that are not organic, Lenderink believes that her food will provide better taste and nutrition to her customers.

Lois Wood, a frequent customer, eats almost all organic or pesticide free, and has been coming to Lenderink’s stand since it opened at the Berkeley market. “[La Tercera] is a small farm and doesn’t make a lot, but she knows what she’s doing,” Wood said. Wood prefers going to farmers markets to get to know the people behind the vegetables. She would take a local farmers’ market over a grocery store any day. Lenderink couldn’t imagine doing anything else. She came from a cooking background and now enjoys selling her food to foodies, families, UC Berkeley staff, and local restaurants.

“It’s a great way for me to make a living. When you find what you love, it doesn’t feel like working. That’s what every kid needs to learn,” Lenderink said.

The farm stand

Lenderink sells different herbs and lettuces at her organic farm stand. Photo by Caroline Parks