While there was, for a few years, a very small farmers market in nearby Dove Canyon, it was a surprise when a bigger market opened in Rancho Santa Margarita in December. Not hugely bigger, to be honest, but I keep hoping more fruit & veg vendors get added as it continues to establish itself as a habit for locals.
The habit does seem to be taking hold—one thing this market has a LOT more of than the little Dove Canyon experiment did is customers. The throng of Friday afternoon-into-evening shoppers out on the Lowe’s center tarmac sure seems to attest to pent-up demand in the area, and its noon-to-6 p.m. hours of operation increase the likelihood that some regular-office-hour people might make it to the market, too.
I could include my usual grouse about too many crafts and non-food items, but will refrain, in the interest of encouragement and regional solidarity: This happens to be the market most proximate to me as well as the RSMites. While I’d like to see more fruit & veg and less incense & macramé, I have found some good things here: Buma Farms spinach from Riverside, and, last week, excellent cherries, apricots, and apriums, a luscious plum-apricot cross, from a grower just south of Fresno.
The RSM Friday afternoon hours are convenient, especially when for one reason or another I didn’t get to my favorite market, that morning’s at Laguna Hills Mall, which I wrote about in an earlier post. (This is the area’s next-closest market, a mere six-something miles away, but typically long in driving time.)
Orange County Fridays are surprisingly rich with farmers markets, in fact. There’s another afternoon market, the long-running one at the Huntington Beach pier, and Anaheim and Irvine Kaiser Permanente facilities host markets across midday. With Laguna Hills Mall and the advent of RSM in addition, that’s pretty good coverage. And that’s what I like to see.
Rancho Santa Margarita Farmers Market, corner of RSM Parkway and Las Flores, noon to 6 p.m. Friday.
A complete list of Orange County farmers markets is available at OCFoodNation.com.