Farmers go to market
The give and take of Mother Nature took center stage at the American Legion Post for the South Shore’s second farmers’ market opening Tuesday, the first day of the season for the Lake Tahoe Boulevard location.
As customers breezed through the myriad of sauces, jams, vegetables, fruits, bath salts and plants that nature’s high authority bestowed on them, vendors occasionally held onto their tents when the wind picked up.
“We don’t care about the wind. We absolutely love this market,” Placerville fruit grower Lois Coalwell said.
Coalwell, who organizes the markets here, in El Dorado Hills and Placerville with her husband Jim, recalled a time years ago however when the wind caught her tent with such force – it lifted her off the ground.
The wind represents only half of what Mother Nature may dish out for Tahoe residents.
“I’ve been here getting out of my car when it’s been snowing,” said Donna Janaczek of Sierra Scents. The local craftswoman has shared booth space with Ann Thennes of Cuckoo in the Noodle for four years. Thennes specializes in colorful gourd bowls and what she calls “other oddities” on her business card.
If the weather had any effect on the market, the result was positive.
“This is probably the best opening day we’ve ever had,” Lois said.
Organic lettuce farmer Steve Martin from Garden Valley may attest to that. Martin sold out his lettuce heads by 9:30 a.m.
And he’s not alone.
“I’m having a good day,” said Sandy Gillespie, who brought plant and herb pots from her greenhouse in South Lake Tahoe.
Among her offerings were sage, chives and parsley mingled in one of Gillespie’s pots, dazzling a passerby.
Tahoe City businesswoman Helen Vogt has found that her Tahoe House salad dressings tempt tourists.
“They look for something that says Tahoe on it,” the business owner said, standing next to her dressing display and trailer that houses her baked goods.
His fourth season at the markets, Tom Harshman tried a little honey to lure passersby to his nest, but the children were reluctant to come close to the bees, he said.
Harshman, who maintains 100 colonies, brought a bee-covered honeycomb with bottled honey.
Many of the Tahoe vendors are good sports. Some have become friends along the way, as with jam and jelly makers Barbara Ann Coullier and the Mitchell sisters of Pollock Pines.
Kathy Mitchell and Charlene Larson, who discount any sibling rivalry they may have had as children, started their business as a hobby until Larson discovered they could make money on their berry bushes and fruit trees.
The sisters consider themselves retired because they’re having “too much fun” to think of the canning activity as work.
The fun spills over to the customers. One set her sights on Gold Rush Kettle Corn, the product of two California State University agricultural business majors – Bill Baker and Jeff Schletewitz.
Another customer mixed work with play.
“This is my shopping,” summer resident Pete Dunn said, holding up four bags of fruits and vegetables. “I knew I needed (them) and figured I’d stop by here.”
One type of vendor that was noticeably absent was a winery. It’s the first year wineries could sell their wares, but the Coalwells have been unable to line up an El Dorado County winery.
“I think these people are missing opportunities,” said Jim, who plans to approach Napa Valley wineries.
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