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Hillcrest farmer’s market


Thursday I made an unscheduled trip to San Diego to be with my mother after an equally unscheduled surgery. She’s fine, but I was glad to come down to be with her and help her out around the house while she recoups.

But as long as I’m down here, I couldn’t turn up the opportunity to check out a farmer’s market. Some quick research indicated that the best of the bunch is the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market on Sundays. To find the foodiest market in the gayest neighborhood was an unexpected treat.

A quick jaunt down the 163 dropped us within blocks of the DMV parking lot that houses the market, where we also found parking without too much fuss. Dorothy, I’m not in San Francisco anymore!

I of course expected to see different things at this market. While the Bay Area is just waking up from the grip of winter’s chill, SoCal enjoys a robust growing season pretty much year round. While we’re scraping to get creative with root vegetables and dark leafy greens, San Diegans are enjoying artichokes the size of your head, billowing cumulus clouds of cauliflower and tomatoes fer chrissakes. And while we’re just now seeing tulips and daffodils, they have long-stem roses, orchids and tuberoses.

Perhaps the biggest difference was in the presence of diverse and beautiful exotic fruits, such as mangoes, bananas, passion fruit and more than one vendor selling cherimoyas. I couldn’t refuse the opportunity to try some of these unusual treats.

I got talking with a tea vendor (and friend of Vegan Lunch Box‘s Jennifer McCann), picking up a bag of her black tea chai. Most interestingly, she showed me that she will be growing heirloom varietal tomatoes from the Ukraine, Russia and Siberia, otherwise not available in the states. I look forward to returning in the summer to sample them.

San Diego’s market also has quite a lot in the way of prepared foods, much of which looked (and smelled) really good.
There was Turkish, Greek, Argentine, Mexican, and a smattering of other
ethnic foods. Foolishly, I ate before coming to the market. What was I
thinking?

There’s also a much larger presence of crafts vendors than at our
own market — apparel, jewelry, artwork, textiles, what have you.

Overall the market isn’t quite as large as Ferry Plaza, but I’m sure
that changes as the seasons change. If they get what they do at the
beginning of March, I can only imagine the bounty in August. And I aim
to experience it first-hand.

Hillcrest Farmer’s Market
3960 Normal St (at Lincoln), San Diego

  • Passionfruit? Seriously? That’s awesome. You’ve totally nailed the difference — whenever I come to LA (which is where I am writing this from now), I really notice how much closer to tropical this region is than the Bay Area. I’m going to have to keep an eye out for passionfruit.
    Hope everything is ok with your mom – from what you said, it sounds like it’s going to be ok, but family medical stuff can always be scary.

  • Thank you, Jen (and all others who contacted me directly) about your concern for my mother. She is well, getting better day by day.

  • Those are fabulous photos! What kind of camera do you use?
    Glad to hear your mom is getting better–

  • Er, it was my mother’s camera. I think it’s a Nikon Coolpix 3600? I know it’s a Coolpix but don’t remember the exact model. What’s funny is that as I was downloading the images, my mother looked over my shoulder and said, my camera took those? Anyway, chalk it up to the gorgeous San Diego sun.

  • what beautiful photographs!

  • When I lived in SoCal (Ventura), I loved the surprises at the farmers’ markets. One never knew what would be there: tropical surprises (mangoes from the Salton Sea area), green pistachios, piles of herbs I had never heard of, etc.
    Some of the Bay Area nurseries sell tomatoes that originated in Eastern Europe because our summers can be so cold. Baia Nicchia (a company devoted to tomato varieties that thrive in the Bay Area), for example, has the Stupice from Czechoslovakia.

  • I visited the farmer who grows lots of that lovely citrus for the market. Barry Koral is a lovely man, an artist, and a visionary. I hope you might visit one of his farms someday. I love that Hillcrest Market: I used to live a few blocks away on Lincoln Avenue.
    : D