It may be the biggest and one of the best O.C. farmers markets, but Irvine’s Saturday affair had one big problem: Parking! As in, lack of.
Not any more. In its new location at Mariners Church, just a couple of miles from the original spot, parking is easy and abundant. There’s more room for sellers, too—in fact, space is so increased that market manager Trish Harrison has been able to add additional vendors, including Kepner Farms hot food made with its own grass-fed beef and free-range eggs. Las Rabinitos, the excellent home-style Mexican food many of us looked forward to at the Friday Laguna Hills market, will be setting up at Irvine in coming weeks, too, and Harrison has lots of tables and chairs under a protective tent for comfortable eating. The son of the church pastor is selling coffee for just $1, not-coincidentally right next door to the fresh-doughnut guy. If you insist on a healthful breakfast, Meños Farms, whose beautiful produce is a longtime favorite of mine, sells juiced-to-order blends of its own organic fruits and vegetables.
Last Saturday was the inauguration of the new location. Even with the additions, all the regulars remain, and, like their customers, they now have a little more elbow room. Two regular stops for me are the Cal Poly Pomona agriculture students, whose stellar stand is always bursting with incredible seasonal bounty, and Scarborough Farms, the Oxnard grower that supplies many restaurants (including Tender Greens) with, well, tender greens.
The market sets up at the corner of Bonita Canyon Drive and Turtle Ridge Road on the Mariners campus. Its hours remain 8 a.m. until noon, though I’m sending my wish for a later closing time out over the farmers market transom. Even 1 p.m. would allow us more marketing time on a busy Saturday.