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Santa Monica Farmers Market Vying for Top Spot in USA Today Contest

Santa Monica Real Estate Company, Roque and Mark

Pacific Park, Santa Monica Pier

Harding Larmore Kutcher & Kozal, LLP  law firm
Harding, Larmore
Kutcher & Kozal, LLP

Convention and Visitors Bureau Santa Monica

By Niki Cervantes
Lookout Staff

August 4, 2015 -- Santa Monica’s Wednesday Downtown Farmers Market is already famous for being among the nation’s oldest, as well as for attracting big crowds of foodies and top chefs like Wolfgang Puck.

 Now it’s vying for a new honor.

If it gets enough online votes, the Wednesday market could be chosen by USA Today as one of the country’s 10 best.

“On any given Wednesday, some of Los Angeles' top chefs and restaurateurs can be found poring over the fresh fruits, vegetables and baked goods,” the newspaper wrote in nominating the market for its Readers Choice competition.

The market is now ranked in 10th place amid 20 finalists.

Winners are those who tallied the most online votes. So go online and vote – please -- says Laura Avery, supervisor for the City’s Farmers Market operation. Votes can be cast at Visitors to the site can vote once a day and voting continues until August 17 at noon, according to the newspaper.

Celebrating its 34th year, the Santa Monica’s Farmers Market now operates in four locations three days a week, attracting as many as 9,000 shoppers looking for the freshest products possible, Avery said.

Avery said she thinks USA Today picked the Santa Monica Wednesday Downtown market because it is so well established, with a far-reaching reputation for attracting farmers all through the state, and because it remains devoted strictly to California’s farmers.

“Some of them (farmers markets) are like swap meets and flea markets,” Avery said. “We are unique in that we are focused on the farmer. We are proud of the high quality of all our products.”

The Downtown Wednesday market, held at Arizona and 2nd Street from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. every Wednesday, was established in 1981 and today is the largest grower-only certified farmers market in Southern California, as well as a favorite of local chefs, officials said. It currently includes 75 farmers.

Santa Monica’s Pico Farmers Market started a year later, the result of an organized effort by the Pico neighborhood.  It operates Saturday at Virginia Avenue Park from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., drawing shoppers from the neighborhood and west side communities.

The City also operates the Saturday Downtown Farmers Market, also known as the Organic Market, which opened in 1999 and is a site for more certified organic produce and another market open for weekend shopping.

On Sunday, the City operates another Farmers Market at 2640 Main Street at Heritage Square between 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.  The most recently established of the four Farmers Markets, it also features food booths, retail businesses, live music, arts and crafts and activities for children, such as face painting.

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