$40 at the Farmers Market: La Mesa Village (Moving on May 4th!)
With over a million households in San Diego County, if each one committed to spending just $40 each month at their local farmers’ market, it would equate to over $500 million in support of small-scale, local businesses each year. This year I’m exploring a new farmers’ market each month, and for April, I headed to La Mesa Village Certified Farmers Market with a $40 budget.
The La Mesa Village Certified Farmers’ Market, celebrating its 25th year this September, happens to be my neighborhood market. Currently held every Friday from 2–6 pm in a civic center parking lot adjacent to La Mesa City Hall, the market location is about to change on May 4th.
The highly anticipated relocation to the two-block stretch on La Mesa Boulevard between 4th Street and Palm Avenue, will land the market in the heart of downtown La Mesa Village, surrounded by notable restaurants and eateries that include long-standing village icons like Johnny B’s Burgers and Brews, Centifonti’s (order a boot at the bar), and Por Favor, along with new spots like City Tacos and Fourpenny House.
Market hours will also change to 3–7pm. There are trolley and bus stops close by and lots of metered and free parking within walking distance. As you can probably tell, I’m pumped about the new location, and thrilled that my favorite vendors will be making the move.
I ran to the old market last week on a whim. I went in hungry and without a plan, which generally makes for a dangerous, yet enjoyable, shopping experience.
Despite the small size, the La Mesa market has a great ratio of farmers to food vendors. The market also has a good mix of popular local vendors that you’ll frequently find at other regional markets, and some that I haven’t seen anywhere else.
The open-air space felt roomy, neighborly, and uncrowded. The tents are spacious and the goods are beautifully displayed. After my usual lap around the stalls to look at everything, I decided to start spending at the Behneman Farm stand, my first purchase a four-pound bag of tangelos.
I sampled some the the fresh pasta flavors from Close to Home before deciding that the green spinach garlic would go over favorably at home.
I had to have a tub of original Bitchin’ Sauce with their housemade tortilla chips, which together qualified for their “2 for $10” deal. (I shamelessly admit eating the Bitchin’ Sauce and chips for lunch three times the following week.)
The fresh apple-cherry juice at the Smit Farms stand was too cold and satisfying to resist. I picked up a 16-ounce bottle. They also had young, tender asparagus, so I picked out a small bundle to go with the pasta.
And then I started making all sorts of hunger-based decisions, starting with a Booboo’s sweet potato pie.
In all fairness, I intended to follow up the sweets purchase with the Oh La Vache Bakery gruyere and green onion loaf that I drooled over doing my first walk through the market, but alas someone else had already nabbed it by the time I made my way back to the bakery table. Lesson learned. I caved to my sweet tooth and settled for a scone and one of their gorgeous blueberry thingys.
With a final purchase of raw alfalfa honey from The Beekeeper’s Choice I was out of cash, on a sugar high, and it was time to head home.
My $40 at the La Mesa Market Bought:
Bitchin Sauce and tortilla chips for $10
Fresh Spinach Pasta: $6
Apple-cherry juice $4
Sweet potato pie $2
8-ounces Raw alfalfa honey $8
*New Location (as of May 4th, 2018): La Mesa Boulevard between 4th Street and Palm Avenue
New Hours: Friday, 3–7pm
Some Favorite La Mesa Vendors
Petrou Foods I like to tell all my friends about their blood orange olive oil because it’s divine—as are their sundried olives and the pickled California garlic.
Oh La Vache Bakery just because I’m a carb-o-holic.
Baba Foods for all every flavor of hummus one can dream about.
The Beekeeper’s Choice for variety of local raw honey.
*Market Notes: Bring cash, because while many vendors do take cards, merchant service fees can cut into slim profit margins.