IT’S NEW! El Camino Hospital has opened its “doors” …. well actually its parking lot for a famer’s market. A small group of other local growers, food producers, restauranteurs and artisans — gathered together on October 5 in a section of the Grant Road parking lot of El Camino Hospital for the first in a series of farmers’ markets scheduled to be held each Friday through the end of the fall season.
The market was organized by the Bay Area Farmers’ Markets Association in conjunction with El Camino Hospital. According to hospital spokeswoman Chris Ernst, El Camino is sponsoring the event in an effort to improve the eating habits of both its employees and the community it serves.
“As we look to the future, a lot of our focus will be on health and wellness,” she said. “A fun foundation of that is nutrition.”
Though the market’s primary focus may be promoting healthy lifestyles, there were some salty and greasy options offered as well. I sampled a cheese steak sandwich (from Big Bite), complete with fried onions and bell peppers, along with a spicy lamb gyro (from Falafel Fresh) topped with mixed veggies and Greek yogurt. Both lunches were fried up as I watched, and both were delicious.
The Chavez sisters grow watermelon, cantaloupe, lettuce, squash, heirloom tomatoes, kale, celery, broccoli, jalapenos, onions and cabbage, among many other vegetables. All their produce is organic, she said.
Chavez advocates eating fresh food, saying that she has lost weight and feels healthier since she began eating her own produce almost exclusively. “At the grocery store, you don’t know how long they’ve kept the produce in a fridge,” she said. “At a farmer’s market, you’re guaranteed fresh produce.”
If the market suffers from any major weakness, it is that it’s bit green behind the ears. A couple of shoppers noted that the market seemed small. Ernst said the promising first-day turnout and the enthusiasm she observed in the market’s patrons left her optimistic that the event will continue to grow. El Camino officials have plans to expand the market by bringing in more farmers, food trucks and other local merchants in the weeks to come, she said.
The new market also increases the accessibility of fresh fruits and vegetables for local low- and fixed-income residents. The market accepts EBT (electronic benefit transfer) cards, so people on state assistance can purchase produce from the farmers, who often only accept cash at other farmers markets.
The location of the new farmers market may prove easier to access for those residents of Mountain View’s more southerly neighborhoods — such as Blossom Valley, Martens-Carmelita, Cuernavaca and Waverly Park — especially those who walk, bike or rely on public transportation.