California Farmer Speaks Out about Farmers Markets - American Farmland Trust

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California Farmer Speaks Out about Farmers Markets

California farmer with radishes and leeks at farmers marketSituated in the Santa Monica Mountains, the scenic AZ-Ranch in Agoura Hills, California, was started in 2000. However, the Woolsey wildfire in 2018 destroyed much of the farm, which required the Zadeh family to rebuild AZ-Ranch to serve local farmers markets and grocery stores. They built new irrigation systems and greenhouses, expanded their produce selection, and even started a second organic farm in Camarillo in 2022.


“AZ-Ranch is committed to providing unique, high-quality organic farm products while using sustainable farming practices,” explains Alex. “We’re passionate about experimenting with new types of organic products, and we’re continuously evolving to meet the needs of our communities and customers.”

This small-scale farm is one of 2,700 producers that supply California’s 655 certified farmers’ markets, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. As American Farmland Trust kicks off its 16th annual America’s Farmers Market Celebration™, this active farmer agreed to talk to us about what these markets mean for his farm.



Behind the Scenes

California farmers market displayWhen you arrive at your farmers market, you might be surprised to learn that the farmers are typically there two to three hours before the event even starts, so they can arrange the booth efficiently and aesthetically. The crops themselves were harvested the night before or the morning of the market for extra freshness. So, the work starts early around here.

Some of the crops, like microgreens, beets, kale, and herbs, are available year-round. However, AZ-Ranch does meticulously plan a planting schedule to maintain a steady supply, as well as seasonal crops. With farms now in Agoura and Camarillo, the farm’s operations are more resilient with the added backup farm.


“Visitors are often amazed by the level of pride we invest in setting up our booths,” says Alex. “For us, quality holds precedence over quantity, a value cherished by our customers. We prioritize grouping items logically for ease of browsing, too.”


honey sold on the farmThe ability to interact with the community is deeply fulfilling for this farmer, who started with just three crops in 2000 and now offers more than 100 products across Los Angeles and Ventura counties.

“The personal connections forged over the years are invaluable,” adds Alex. “Our team operates like a family, prioritizing both product quality and customer relationships. Pride in our work permeates every aspect of our operations. We love the fact we are farm-to-table because we are local and part of the community we serve. We are easily accessible, and we have a friendly approach when dealing with our community.”

Harvesting strawberries for a California farmers marketAlex wants the public to know that farmers and market managers embody qualities of compassion and hard work.

“The sense of community among us fosters mutual support,” he explains. “And that’s evident to customers at every market. These interactions offer a glimpse into the dedication and camaraderie that define our industry.”


Find AZ-Ranch Products

AZ-Ranch logoCurrently, the farm supplies certified farmers’ markets at Thousand Oaks on Thursdays, Calabasas and Ventura on Saturdays, and Ojai on Sundays.

This month, they are expanding to Midtown Ventura on Wednesdays, Topanga on Fridays, Monrovia on Saturdays, and Pacific Palisades and Channel Islands on Sundays.


Show Some Love!

Did you know? When you vote in AFT’s Farmers Market Celebration, your favoriteLogo for America's Farmers Market Celebration farmers’ market could win valuable prizes. In fact, we’re giving away $15,000 and more this year. Please help your local farmers and markets, wherever you live. It only takes a few minutes and could make a difference. Be sure to tell your friends and family, too.

The AFMC is the nation’s only annual ranking of the top farmers markets, as voted on by the public. Since 2008, the contest has highlighted the important role farmers markets play in communities across the nation while celebrating the farmers, staff, and volunteers that make markets happen.


Vote at until July 31, 2024.


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Teresa O'Connor

California Communications and Outreach Manager

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