Whether you’re looking to buy some fresh, local produce, support a good cause through baked goods or sample some authentic central American cuisine, the weekly farmers market on the corner of Jefferson Boulevard and Hoover Street has you covered.
Chase Mosley, who runs the farmers market, said that the market, open every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., caters directly to USC students.
“We know a lot of students are not from California or local to this area and they don’t really have access to outside food, so we thought why not bring it here?” Mosely said.
Mosely makes it a point to get vendors who grow their food locally.
“When we say local, [the market is] within 200 miles of the farm, so you’re getting super fresh food,” Mosley said. “Strawberries … might have been picked at 2 a.m. this morning.”
A vendor passing by offers Mosley freshly squeezed orange juice. She thanks him by name. With that, Mosley explained that it is important for her to run the market like a family.
“I’ve worked with all of these people for a few years, if not longer,” Mosley said. “Before doing markets on my own, I worked for another company doing their market. I see how grateful the vendors are and how hard the farmers work.”
Mosely said that it is why her farmers market is a nonprofit.
“We don’t do it for the money, this doesn’t generate enough money for me to live off of … but I think it’s important to support small businesses,” Mosley said. “We are what makes the economy grow.”
Chloe Cotoulas, a senior majoring in critical studies, said that she comes to the market every Tuesday to buy produce.
“There are not that many options [for fresh food] right around the USC area,” Cotoulas said. “This is a nice change of pace without having to get in your car.”
Though the market is not close to his usual side of campus, Geoff Atkeisson, a second year master of business administration candidate, remains highly impressed with the farmers market’s selection.
“I’m at the business school, so I’m generally on the other side of campus,” Atkeisson said. “If I’m over here I will come back, though. The food is better and cheaper than what I can get at that side of campus. It’s just a matter of time.”
Nate Graeser, a second-year graduate student studying social work, said he always makes sure to drop by the market on Tuesdays.
“I like the fresh food and they have really good hummus here,” Graeser said. “Also, it feels like it’s more people oriented, more personal. I always feel like it’s good to support the small guys.”
If you’re interested in checking out the farmers market, here’s a snapshot of three booths and the stories behind them:
Run by Ana Monreal, Pupusas Salvadorenas sells pupusas and fresh fruit juice.
Pupusas are a Central American dish that takes a handmade corn tortilla and stuffs it with a blend of cheese, jalapeños, vegetables, meat and sometimes beans. Monreal got her recipe from her husband’s grandmother, who owned restaurants in El Salvador before moving to the United States about 25 years ago.
Homeboy Bakery sells baked goods that help support a good cause: Homeboy Industries. The bakery, created by Fr. Greg Boyle, helps former gang members and citizens with a criminal history find jobs.
George Carillo, who works at Homeboy Bakery, struggled with sobriety but was able to turn his life around with the help of the company.
“Homeboy changed my life,” Carillo said. “It’s just a really good organization. Everyone is very encouraging and wanted me to do better.”
Carillo can’t help but recommend the coffee cake, a treat from his past.
“They had these in all the public schools in L.A. county,” Carillo said. “It makes me think of my [old school], except this has better ingredients.”
Over a year and a half ago, after watching Food Inc. on Netflix, Oscar Gomez was inspired to buy land in Riverside to start a farm.
“I didn’t want to give [the food featured on Food Inc.] to my children, so I bought a ten acre ranch and started growing everything myself,” Gomez said.
Currently, the farm is working with California Certified Organic Farmers to advertise their produce as completely organic.
“We don’t use any pesticides or anything on our produce — we only use river water to water our food, no city water,” Gomez said.
Gomez is very proud of what his farm produces. As for recommendations?
“Our [heirloom tomatoes], our strawberries, our grapes, all our fruit is delicious,” Gomez said.