While there has been a farmers’ market in Carlsbad continuously since 1994, the city’s current State Street Farmers’ Market is still in its first year. With a well-planned reboot, the market now takes over State Street from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Wednesday. With fresh fruit and produce, prepared foods and packaged goods, the market’s newest iteration is a welcome addition to the city of Carlsbad. We talk with Market Manager Ron LaChance about the options available to residents and visitors when they happen to find themselves in The Village on any given Wednesday.
Q&A with Market Manager Ron LaChance
What is the history behind the State Street Farmers’ Market?
The Carlsbad Village Association started the previous Village farmers’ market in 1994, which was located in a parking lot a block off State Street. Although well attended at first, through the years attendance dropped and farmers began pulling out of the market. In 2012, noticing the downward trend, Urban Place Consulting – consultants hired to help revitalize The Village – decided through a series of neighborhood meetings with residents and businesses that the best place to have a market was right in the middle of State Street with afternoon hours that made it easier for working people to attend. The old market was closed beginning June 2013, and the market in its current form, State Street Farmers’ Market, was opened at the end of June 2013. With this change of location came room for twice as many vendors, a better variety of produce and products, and visibility so that everyone visiting Carlsbad Village on Wednesdays knows there’s a farmers’ market.
What is your role with the market?
I am the market manager. I organize the event each week as well as deal with vendor recruitment and more.
Does the market partner up with any local organizations or businesses?
The market has a sponsorship program, which includes a booth every week for any local organization or business that would like to promote something. We like to work very closely with the local businesses as it is a win for everybody to have people on the street. We also have a booth allocated for nonprofit groups and all local businesses and organizations can always have cards and/or flyers at the information table. We definitely like to help promote The Village and all its businesses.
How has the market evolved since its opening?
We are quite fortunate to have more space than the previous market. We have a much wider selection of items, both produce and prepared and packaged foods. The State Street Farmers’ Market has evolved into one of the best markets in the county with under fifty vendors.
How many vendors does the market host?
On any given day we have twenty-one farms and approximately thirty-five vendors selling prepared foods, packaged foods and a small crafter section.
What are your most popular vendors?
Like any quality farmers’ market, the produce is what makes the market successful. However, other favorites include: Annel and Drew’s incredible marinated chicken and artichokes, Vonda Lee’s Cheesecake in a Cup – you have to come see Vonda’s son selling cheesecakes in her apron – and Bitchin’ Sauce, all of which are made right here in Carlsbad. Also, Carlsbad’s own Valdivia farms has amazing local heirloom tomatoes when in season.
On any given week, about how many visitors attend the market?
Each week we have about 1,500 to 2,000 visitors at our market.
What variety of items can be found at the market?
Whatever is in season can be found here. In addition to the great produce you can also get fresh fish, sauces, marinades, granola, baked goods, spices, tamales, olive oils, pastas and more. We also have four cooked food booths so you can get a meal at the market and listen to live music.
How many farmers supply food to the market? Do all food vendors only carry organically grown produce/cuisine?
We have twenty-one farmers represented at the market, including five certified organic growers.
Tell us about the cost benefits of shopping at the State Street Farmers’ Market.
The cost benefits are not what a farmers’ market is all about. What you do get from the farmers’ market is the freshest local produce that wasn’t picked until it was at the peak of ripeness. In most cases, what you are buying from the farmers’ market was picked that day or the day prior. This also means it had more time on the plant just like Mother Nature intended. Large grocery chains and bulk stores get produce that was picked before it was ripe so that they could pack and ship it. Another benefit of the farmers’ market is that you are meeting the folks that grow your food. They are happy to answer any questions you might have about their farm and their growing practices.
What sets the market apart from other markets in the area?
What sets us apart from other markets in the area for starters is our location. We are in a beautiful city, right near the beach. In addition we are surrounded by restaurants and great boutiques. You could go shopping for everything you need and then sit on a street side patio, have a glass of wine and watch the market happen. You can’t do that at more than two or three farmers’ markets in the whole county. As I already mentioned I would put the variety found at our market up against any market in the county of the same size. We have about fifty vendors. Bigger is not always better.
What can one expect if they visit the market on any given Wednesday?
They can expect fresh produce, a great selection of prepared foods, a relaxing neighborly atmosphere and amazing live music to enjoy.
What are the top four or five reasons one visits the market?
The top five reasons to visit the market are also the things people can expect to see every week if they attend. Fresh, local produce, great prepared items, live music, people watching, and boutique store shopping as we are in the middle of the Carlsbad Village. There is the beautiful beach two blocks away as well.
How will the market change when the summer season begins?
The only changes that we see in the summer are longer hours, 3 to 7 p.m. instead of 3 to 6 p.m., like winter hours. Also peaches, nectarines, blueberries, strawberries, tomatoes and cherries are all in peak season during the summer.
Please tell us about the surrounding area of the market. What else does State St. have to offer to visitors?
State St. has a wide array of restaurants, bars and unique shopping. The market is located right in the middle of it all. You can buy your vegetables, shop for a new outfit, then sit and have a glass of wine or amazing dinner at one of the many restaurants. It’s truly a unique experience.
Farmers’ Market Heirloom Tomato Salad
- 1 ½ pounds heirloom tomatoes (Valdivia Farms)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (Gourmet Tastings)
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (Gourmet Tastings)
- Chives (Sundial Farms)
- Basil (Sundial Farms)
- Cut 1 1/2 pounds mixed tomatoes into wedges; season with salt and pepper.
- Cook 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 2 tea spoons brown sugar in a small skillet over medium heat until reduced by half, about 3 minutes; remove from the heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Drizzle over the tomatoes; top with snipped chives and basil.
Market Manager: Ron LaChance
Day/Time: Wednesday from 3 to 7 p.m.
Location: State St., Carlsbad Village
Description of Market: State Street Farmers’ Market in Carlsbad is truly a unique experience. Featuring a variety of local produce and products, visitors can not only get their food shopping done, they can also sit and enjoy the friendly atmosphere while listening to live music or browse through some of the local boutiques and have dinner at one of the many restaurants that line the street, all in the heart of the Carlsbad Village.