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Farmers Markets Dot USC Neighborhood

Farmers Markets Dot USC Neighborhood
Johanna Mulder, a visiting researcher from the Netherlands, stops by the Exposition Park Farmers Market.

A cornucopia of fresh produce and vegetables awaits shoppers at the Adams/Vermont Farmers Market, one of at least seven open throughout the week in the neighborhoods surrounding USC.

Some are certified organic. Some offer produce from the Central Valley, others from Riverside and Orange County. The markets display their delectable wares on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Jay An, a 55-year-old real estate broker who emigrated from South Korea 30 years ago, lives in La Crescenta, but attends St. Agnes Catholic Church, which hosts the farmers market on Vermont Avenue. That’s where he buys fresh peaches, apricots and plums every Wednesday afternoon.

At the time of his emigration, St. Agnes “was the only Catholic Church in Koreatown,” he said. A shrine in the parking lot – with a plaque dedicated to the martyr saints of Korea – is a testament to the church’s diverse members.

Rudolph Leslie, a handyman who lives in South Los Angeles, moved to the area 20 years ago because of its population of people from Belize, the small country in Central America with a strong Caribbean influence.

“I used to play basketball at St. Agnes all the time,” said Leslie, who now brings his teenage son to the market to shop for vegetables. “A lot of people from my country still come here. I come back whenever I can.”

Many of the shoppers are first-generation immigrants from Mexico. Asked where they are from, they do not claim allegiance to a neighborhood or city in the L.A. area. Instead, they proudly refer to the Mexican state where they were born even though they have lived here for decades.

“Everything is fresh; it’s just been cut,” Irena Diego of Oaxaca said in Spanish. “I always come here – for 17 years.”

Diego buys her nopales (cactus) from Santiago Santallan, who farms about 10 acres in Seal Beach, about five minutes from the ocean. For more than 10 years, the 62-year-old Long Beach resident from Jalisco has been traveling to four different farmers markets to sell his cactus, squash, cabbage and whatever else he can grow.

“I have a little bit of everything,” he said.

Glory Perez, 22, walks around the market with her 3-year-old son Leonardi, who insists on having his bag of fruit weighed by each vendor even though his mother has already paid for it.

“This is so much more comfortable and cheaper than the grocery store,” Perez said. “It’s sweeter and fresher. And it’s better for him.”

Nearby Farmers Markets:

The Shrine Farmers Market
Tuesdays 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Royal Street and Jefferson Boulevard

Adams/Vermont Farmers Market
Wednesdays 2-5 p.m.
St. Agnes Catholic Church
1432 W. Adams Blvd.

Expo Center/CSU Produce Stand
Thursdays 3-5 p.m.
3980 Menlo Ave., at Martin Luther King Boulevard, in front of the pool

Trojan Fresh Market
Thursdays 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Alumni Park, USC

L.A. Urban Oasis Farmers Market
Saturdays 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
5010 11th Ave.

FAME Church Farmers Market
Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Southwest corner of Western Avenue and Adams Boulevard

Exposition Park Farmers Market
Saturdays 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
South lawn of Natural History Museum

Farmers Markets Dot USC Neighborhood

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