this summer, we’re sharing profiles of farmers and other producers from California’s best farmer’s markets, along with their best tips and insights. Who better to share first, then farmer extraordinaire, Jennifer McColm, operator of the largest certified farmers’ markets in California and a certified organic farmer herself. She sits on the board advising the California Secretary of Food and Agriculture on certified farmers’ markets and founded the Jennifer McColm Certified line of locally produced and organic products.
While a “stay-at-home” mom years ago, Jennifer decided to farm the land around the marital home, soon becoming a certified organic producer. Soon, she was not only supplying her own family with fresh produce but also her many neighbors in Bell Canyon, outside Los Angeles.
Not being able to supply all her neighbors, Jennifer went on a “forage” for more fresh fruit and vegetables but soon had another idea: Why not invite small farmers to set up a market in her neighborhood? And, in 1998, Jennifer opened her first farmers’ market in Bell Canyon. Since then, Jennifer has opened many subsequent farmers markets, some of which are considered the largest and most successful neighborhood markets in the state of California. Now operating over 20 certified farmers’ markets in and around Los Angeles, over 100,000 patrons visit Jennifer’s markets each week. She encourages her farmers to adopt sustainable growing practices and encouraged them to switch to organic farming where possible.
This Friday, June 1st, Jennifer joins with Williams Sonoma Calabasas to throw a fun summer event perfect for our readers! It’s called Meet The Farmer and tomorrow that farmer will be long-time organic and local farmer, Gene Etheridge. Experience farm fresh fruits and vegetables, enjoy locally foraged mushrooms, taste incredible curds, jams, granola and kombucha and meet Farmer Gene!
For more information on tomorrow’s event, visit Jennifer’s site jennifermccolm.com.
Meet The Farmer
Farmer: Jennifer McColm of McColm Family Organic Farm
Farmers’ Market: President of CA Certified Farmers Market, possibly the largest farmers market organization in Southern California!
How long have you been farming: Since childhood & I’ve certified farmer for 13 years, in 2008 I became a certified organic farmer.
Produce/Products: See attached producers certificate – I represent all of the farmers (about: total) & artisanal food vendors (about: total)
Favorite thing about farming: Feeling grounded to earth, as well as the food I eat and feed to my family – it’s all connected.
Farmers market tip: Get to the market early to get all the good stuff, get to know you’re your favorite farmer and hear an interesting recipe or story behind their farm.
Best time of year: Stone fruit season: cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines… anything with a pit!
What’s one interesting fact about your produce: My organic fruits, vegetables and vine-ripened table grapes along with jams, kombucha tea, locally grown, fresh cut flowers, curds made from fresh organic produce from Jennifer McColm’s Calabasas Farmers Market. Produce from my farmers’ markets can be found at Calabasas Williams Sonoma every other week starting June 1 from 10-4 pm.
What may people not know about your produce: That it can be found at Williams Sonoma stores.
What’s important for consumers to consider when shopping for your type of produce: Transparency! Ask questions to ensure the integrity of the claim they are making. Don’t just depend on the farmers market – inquire yourself! Have fun, get to know your farmer and his/her growing practices.
Favorite way to enjoy your produce: Preparing and cooking in my outdoor kitchen, where someone goes & pulls lettuce, tomatoes, corn on the cob. Then, eating it raw or cooking it right there!
Great tip for storing, selecting, preparing your product: Dehydrating is a great way for a healthy snack, including making fruit roll ups for the kids. I love garden boxes, I have some right outside of my kitchen. I also love jarring pasta sauces & vegetables. I like to use my julienne peeler and slice the zucchini into spaghetti size pieces, and I make a garlic, heirloom tomato, basil pasta sauce. I might heat the zucchini up just a bit and when you pour the pasta sauce over it, it’s hot so it makes the temp just right. The only thing you’ve gotta watch out for is the garlic bread! I go with sourdough, garlic & fresh Parmesan.
Why is it important to you to practice organic farming? Not only do I practice organic farming, my mowers are electric, my backyard is a natural wildlife habitat and I control fleas and ticks with predator bugs – everything is chemical & pollutant free. We breathe better, it’s noise-free and everyone feels better. I’m doing my part not only for my family, but for the greater good for everyone. All of my cleaning supplies are all homemade and very inexpensive. For more tips like this, check out my book The New Green!