Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine Digital Edition SU16

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Fresh Picked S U S TA I N A B L E L I F E W hen fourth-generation producer Paul Tao sets up his stand at several Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets (MBCFM) each week, he brings boxes of fresh organic strawberries and blueberries picked from his family's Castroville fields. He sorts the berries into baskets while chatting with shoppers, ensuring they receive just what they want in terms of size, flavor and ripeness. "At the markets, you're in direct contact with the people buying your products. You can figure out what they're looking for and find ways to keep them happy," says Tao, who started selling at MBCFM events in 2009. "I enjoy building those relationships." Like his customers, Tao also enjoys meeting the farmers who grow his food. He purchases many of his household's fruits and vegetables at the weekly markets. "I don't really go to the grocery store anymore, because every- thing from the market is so fresh. We're getting consistently high- quality produce each week," he says. Tao is one of about 90 vendors affiliated with the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets, an organization launched by four Santa Cruz-area producers in 1976. Four decades after their first seasonal market, that original gathering has grown into a year-round weekly affair at Cabrillo College. Shortly after the founders established the Aptos market, they expanded across the bay with the Monterey Farmers Market. Nearly 60 vendors a week now sell produce, flow- ers, pasta, bread and meat at that year-round event held at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC). The organization later added smaller sea- sonal markets at Del Monte Center and Carmel's Barnyard Shopping Village. Each MBCFM event has its own character and draws a distinct crowd. Shoppers travel from as far as Big Sur and Carmel Valley for Local Farmer s Mar kets Bring Community Together B Y R E N E E B R I N C K S P H OTO G R A P H Y B Y K E L L I U L D A L L C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • S U M M E R / F A L L 2 0 1 6 237

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