Market builds community

Tom Dawson (left) has been involved in Bariani Olive Oil for 15 years and Sebastian Bariani (right) for 28 years. (Photo by Kennedy McDermott)

Berkeley, Calif. –– When customers step into the Farmers’ Market on a Saturday morning, they embrace the bustling activity and purchase a variety of green vegetables, enjoy tangy Thai noodles or sample Italian delicacies. On the left and right are numerous stalls of bread and pastries, flowers and greenery and a mix of tantalizing aromas.

In downtown Berkeley, the Farmers’ Market on Center Street at M. L. King, Jr. Way allows people to find fresh and organic products. It works in alliance with other Berkeley farmers’ markets under the Ecology Center. Its mission is to provide sustainable and healthy products. Each shop owner or farmer arrives before the sun rises to unload its products and start the day. Locals depend on this market, which operates from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. all year long.

Customers can buy anything from organic honey-based skin products to savory breakfast crepes stuffed with bacon.

One common thread found in the market is the commitment to producing organic goods. The shops are all dedicated to delivering the top quality products for each other, their families, their culture and their customers.

Tony’s Kettle Korn and Crepe

Tony’s Kettle Korn and Crepe is a mom-and-pop business, renowned for its popped corn and variety of crepes. They operate in 10 different locations across the state.

“You give the customers what they want, “ Pete Trembois, one of the sellers whose entire family plays a role in the business, said. “You know the customer’s always right. You give them what they want. You make them happy, and they usually leave with a smile on their face.”

They are loyal to not only their customers but also to their farmers and fellow family businesses.

Trembois adds that they “use premium ingredients so we’ll have premium products.”

They do their best to support all the farmers and rely especially on Happy Boy’s farm, another family-owned farm, for their fresh produce. Through supporting each other’s businesses, these shops build deep connections of community.

The Lone Oak Ranch

Dale Simmons and JoLaVonne ViDeaune run the Lone Oak Ranch located in Reedley, California. It has run for more than four generations. One worker, Cayoa Harang, who is 19 and a student, said selling the fruit is her favorite part of the job.

“The surprise on their face when [customers] eat the fruit for the first time and stuff like that is great,” said Harang.

Kaki Farm

Nicasio Soria runs the Kaki Farm in Gridley, California, with the help of hired hands and five family members.

“We get a better relationship with our customers here in the markets than in said a grocery store,” said Jessica Sifuentes, a financial analyst at Chico Medical Hospital who helps out with the business on the side.

Family-run shops also have an environment that big grocery marts do not have. Families often come in to enjoy a weekend at farmers’ markets. Mothers come in buy groceries for the week to feed families. Young adults swing by to have a taste of the organic and fresh coffee and pastries. These regulars said they come for the quality products and the trust.

Their goal is to offer as many varieties as possible for one product.

Sifuentes said, “We have early grills, beef steak, roma, heirlooms, cherry tomatoes, sweet 100s and sun gold.”

Bariani Olive Oil

Farmers’ markets are not limited to only fruits and vegetables. Customers can enjoy cuisines and products of different cultures at the Farmers’ Market in downtown. Bariani sells all products related to olives.

Tom Dawson, an employee of the shop, said “It’s a family that moved from Italy to the U.S. in the ’90s. They started making olive oil for themselves and turned that into a business.”

From olive oil to honey to their most popular item, olive pate, this shop celebrates its Italian roots.