Ideal weather conditions nearly year-round afford Los Angeles the opportunity to have a wide variety of farmers markets selling all sorts of local produce each season. You can find a market any day of the week, and though you will find similar vendors at the markets, each market is unique in its own way.
Los Angeles is home to an overwhelming selection of farmers markets, and one of the best ways to navigate the choices is Farmer Net, a website that lists all of the certified farmers markets in the Los Angeles area. From there you can sort the markets by day, neighborhood, and even time.
The biggest markets in Los Angeles County are the Wednesday and Saturday Santa Monica Farmers Market and the Sunday Hollywood Farmers Market. The Wednesday Santa Monica market is entirely organic, so prices run a little higher, and expect to see top chefs from all over the city loading up on produce there. David LeFevre from Manhattan Beach Post fills his truck to the brim with whatever looks good each week in Santa Monica and alters his menu to fit what is in season.
Started 21 years ago, the Hollywood Farmers Market draws a diverse crowd. Each week 100 farmers, 45 vendors, and 20 artisans sell everything from berries to root vegetables to organic coffee drinks to ice cream, along with woven baskets, jewelry, and more.
Approximately 10,000 people visit this market each Sunday, but there are always friendly staff on hand to help those who are lost or educate shoppers on what is happening in the market. The Hollywood Farmers Market is unique in that a portion of its revenue is invested into other food programs in low-income areas of the city so that everyone can have access to the best produce.
But bigger isn't always better when it comes to area markets. Many of the smaller markets have the same vendors as the bigger markets and it is easier to establish a relationship with the farmers since less people frequent those markets; establishing a relationship with the farmer is one of the best ways to snag a deal.
If you are a weekly shopper at the Beverly Hills Famers Market and Silverlake Farmers Market, you will find the same great array of produce as at some of the larger markets, as well as specialty prepared foods like homemade pita, vegan wraps, and goat cheese, but for lower prices.
Going to the smaller markets earlier in the day will ensure that you have the best selection, as often farmers don't bring as much to these markets and they can sell out quickly. If you are a late-riser, visit one of the bigger markets like the Santa Monica Farmers Market at the end of the day as farmers are often willing to cut you a deal or give you things for free so they have less to take back with them.
Los Angeles is also home to several ‘alternative’ farmers markets. The seasonal Yamashiro Farmers Market runs from April through October on Thursday evenings. Free shuttle service is available from the Fifth Christian Science Church on Hollywood Boulevard up to the market. You can find a small amount of produce there, but most people come to gaze at the view of Los Angeles from the top of the hill, listen to live music, or to devour one of chef Brock Kleweno's famous Japanese tacos from KOMIDA in Hollywood.
These aren't your ordinary tacos, with fillings like black cod with miso sake glaze, duck confit, and chicken satay. There are a number of food trucks that visit the Yamashiro Farmers Market every week, so you can also snag things like lasagna cupcakes from Heirloom LA or a lamb gyro from the Global Soul food truck. You can also buy cocktails at this market, which makes it an ideal way to spend an evening with friends looking at one of the most spectacular views in the city.
Another alternative market is also Los Angeles' oldest. The Original Farmers Market at West Third Street and Fairfax was started in 1934 by the Gilmore family. To this day, the market continues to be family-owned and operated. Inside you will find a wide selection of small restaurants, food stands, and some produce.
Restaurants there include Magee's Kitchen, which has had people coming for hearty meals like roasts and corned beef for years and continues to be run by founder Blanche Magee's daughter-in-law. Bob's Coffee & Doughnuts features one of the most popular glazed donuts in the city, and condiment store Light My Fire carries one of the largest hot sauce selections in the country.
Visitors can also find local produce at the farm stands, and artisan products at stores like gourmet grocer Monsieur Marcel. The late Amy Pressman and Nancy Silverton’s bakery Short Cake and burger shop Short Order are recent additions to The Original Farmers Market and have people lined up for exceptional burgers and baked goods.
For a different spin on farm-fresh produce, farms such as McGrath Family Farm and Flora Bella Farm team up with local chefs to will host dinners either at their farms or at an area restaurant. Recently Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo from Animal and Son of a Gun headed teamed up to Flora Bella Farm to cook with the farmers with the same produce they use in their restaurants. McGrath Family Farm has hosted themed dinners including and Outstanding in the Field dinner that was paired with Malibu Casa wines.
Whether you are new to Los Angeles and just looking to get a taste of the local flair or you are a resident and want to establish a long-term local shopping habit, Los Angeles farmers markets have a ton to offer and keep shoppers constantly excited for what is in season and what culinary offerings are soon to come.