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of fruit has reached a supermarket, it’s been in the system for up to two weeks. Fruit has to be picked green in order to be the correct level of ripe by the time it is put in the consumer’s hand. “The USDA estimates that the food just moving in California moves an average of 1,500 miles and is owned by six different [entities] in its trip,” Hayden said. A piece of fruit at the farmer’s market, on the other hand, is typically less than a day old, and ripened to the perfect level of sweetness. In addition to excellent and healthy produce and food, Virginia Sellers, Morgan Hill Farmers Market Founder & Manager 1987-2019 Hayden sees a farmers’ market as a place where people can come together to mix and mingle with their neighbors, sharing recipes and cultures. “You see a lot of strollers, walkers, canes, all walks of life. When people go there they feel camaraderie,” Hayden said. Emily Brown, a Morgan Hill resident for nine years and mother of two children, said she loves the farmer’s market, “Because I always bump into friends, my kids’ teachers, people from the gym and it feels like such a small town. And the local fresh fruits and veggies and baked goods are better than any grocery store in town.” Addie Weatherall, age 13, who grew up attending the farmer’s market with her parents, and later her younger sister Avery, age 8, said, “The farmer’s market is a kid- friendly place and a great way to find locally sourced fruit and vegetables.” Farmers' markets are also good for the farmer, Hayden said, allowing them to cut out the middlemen and sell direct to the customer for cash in hand. “They don’t have to take on those midlevel functions such as packing and shipping.” The Morgan Hill Market on Depot Street, is open every Saturday, 9 am to 1 pm, year-round. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN Gilroy Farmers' Market In Gilroy, Salvadore Ascencio, Executive Director of T&C Farmers’ Markets found the perfect location for a farmers' market in the parking lot adjacent to Luigi Aprea School. The market is located within walking distance of 1000 homes and situated beside a playground, perfect for fami- lies with young children. With the support of the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce, the market held its grand open- ing in December, 2019. Though the market has had a humble start, Ascencio anticipates an explosion on the same scale as Morgan Hill’s market. Customers can find fresh fruits and veggies, flow- ers, bakery items, artisan soaps, Greek food and hummus, and a garlic-based sauce vendor. On the near horizon are strawberries, tangerines and an olive oil vendor, and Ascencio is responding to community demand for coffee and smoked meats. “We’re doing baby steps,” Ascencio said. What matters most to him is promoting healthy eating and living. A former athlete himself, he said, “In our small way we want to try to counter the billions of dollars fast food companies make.” T&C also supports the local food bank at St. Joseph Family Center with unsold produce. “From a business perspective it provides local farm- ers and artisans an opportunity to grow,” said Gilroy Chamber of Commerce CEO, Mark Turner. As an example, Ascencio pointed out that the owner of the bakery items, The Perfect Crumb, started out selling only to farmer’s markets before opening her own shop. And the owner of the San Benito Soap Company has been so successful with her soaps, she also aspires to open a brick and mortar location soon. In addition to being a hub for great food, Turner emphasized that farmers’ markets are “a place to gather. People can come together and neighbors can connect with one another. It’s a safe place to be.” Gilroy resident Krissy Ruano, who walked to the mar- ket with her husband and young son, agreed. “We love getting out. It’s nice to have something to do. We love supporting the local businesses and the fresh- ness of the produce. It’s a fun thing to do with the family,” Ruano said. She and her husband figure out what they want to cook for the week and then purchase the vegetables and fruits here. Ascencio loves the slower, more leisurely pace of the market, and watching people stop to talk to one another, “It almost has a festival feel to it. It’s a fun place to be. There are so many benefits beyond the health benefits.” Turner added, “People are coming together and build- ing the relationships that are necessary for community.” The Gilroy Farmers' Market, 9225 Calle del Rey, is open every Saturday, 10 am to 2 pm, year-round. SPRING 2020 gmhtoday.com 57