Farm-fresh favorites in town |

Farm-fresh favorites in town

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

South Lake Tahoe farmers’ markets open Tuesday with a plethora of produce, after a wet and wild April almost made a major dent in the harvests.

El Dorado County Certified Farmers’ Markets President Jim Coalwell said the crops growing above 2,000 feet in elevation were affected by the cold weather.

“It turned out to be a mess. We got too much rain, and it didn’t warm up. Many of the crops bloomed, then we got those cold temperatures,” said Coalwell, a Placerville grower who brings peaches and cherries among other produce to the American Legion Hall off Highway 50. He scrambled to get a new round of growers at lower elevations such as Stockton and Modesto.

Strawberries — which thrive in warmer, dry conditions — are coming from Watsonville.

“I’m glad I have a big list of growers,” he said. “So even though we had the wet spring, we have the same number of crops. I don’t think anyone will notice a lack thereof.”

Beyond new growers, Coalwell has added Andrae Baking, an Amador City baker who plans to bring cheese and french bread to the Legion Hall from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday. The farmers’ markets on Kahle Drive will open up June 6 with the same time schedule.

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“That should be a really good addition to that market,” Coalwell said of the bakery.

For fish lovers, a Bodega Bay fisherman will sell fresh salmon.

The market space has filled up at the popular Legion Hall location, Coalwell said. Many of the customers’ old favorite sellers have returned with their goods, including the Tahoe House’s seasonings, Mitchell Sisters’ jam, Gold Rush Kettlekorn and Alpen Sierra’s organic coffee.

African basket weavers called Jones/Baskets based in Calaveras County are also preparing to bring their goods again this season. Linda Jones makes the baskets with her four sisters. Her husband, Doug, helps sell the baskets at crafts fairs and other farmers’ markets.

“People use them for shop baskets,” Coalwell said.

The markets’ organizer remains interested in getting a winery to sell its goods at the Legion Hall site, following a 3-year-old California law that allows for the practice.

Coalwell points to the location as an ideal setting for wine tasting.

“I think it’ll happen. It’s just that a lot of them don’t see (the opportunity). If they see the setup, they’ll go for it,” he said.

Some El Dorado County wineries have expressed interest, but they believe they don’t have the staff to make the trips productive.

Almost 30 vendors are set to display their wares at the Legion Hall post, with about a dozen vendors expected to come out at the Kahle Community Center.

Low-income residents and seniors seeking relief may use vouchers through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s program that helps them buy nutritious food. The USDA’s Senior Farmers’ Markets Nutrition Pilot Program — spun out of the federal Women, Infant and Children food service — awards $15 million in grants in 31 states to pay for 60,000 coupons doled out nationwide. With California as one of the states, the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center will receive its coupons next month. The program fills in a gap because many farmers’ markets don’t accept food stamps, leaving poor Americans with fewer ways to get fresh food.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at