Pluots, boil-the-water corn, old-fashioned English peas and Asian vegetables are just a few of the new additions to the Los Altos Farmers' Market, opening this Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to noon at Historic Loyola Corners.
Pluots are a cross of the plum with the apricot. They've been referred to as "the next kiwi." Ed Rose of Rose Ranch will have them available beginning in June. Rose explains that there are several different varieties of pluot, based on different crosses of the two fruits. He'll have all varieties available throughout the season.
"Pluots have characteristics of both the plum and the apricot, and combined they're just delicious," Rose said.
Boil-the-water corn is the freshest corn you can get, according to Gail Hayden of the California Farmers' Markets Association. The corn is picked in Brentwood at 6:30 a.m. on market day, placed in ice on trucks and delivered direct to market.
On opening day, Mike Iacopi will be there with his old-fashioned English peas and sugar snap peas grown in Half Moon Bay. Mike can also teach you how to pop the peas out of the pod. Recent rains haven't affected the berry crop, Hayden said. Ron Borda will be there with fresh blueberries, one of over 30 Northern California growers arriving on opening day.
This year, Los Altos Farmers' Market joined the California Farmers' Market Association, a non-profit grower organization based in Concord. The Association has 300 member farms and operates markets throughout the area. "We believe in supporting California farming," says Hayden. "We have lots of farms, and we look for what people need and will really enjoy."
A specialty apple farm, located in Gilroy, that offers heritage varieties is another addition to the Los Altos Farmers' Market. "In fall, they can ship apples almost anywhere for you," Hayden said.
Another addition, coming in late May from Pantoja Ranch near Fresno, is Valencia orange juice.
"You see food trends at the farmers' markets before you see them anywhere else," Hayden said. "You know what farmers are trying, and the farmers get immediate feedback from their market customers. We see how our foods really reflect the cultural melting pot of our society."
The greater number of farmers' markets has had broader effects on farming.
"Farmers' markets offer the opportunity for fruit to have more time on the tree, for more varieties with more juice and a richer taste, and for heirloom and heritage varieties," Hayden said.