With more than 350 days of sunshine and water from the Colorado River, the Coachella Valley is one of the most prolific agricultural regions in the country and the reason the local farmers markets are filled with delicious produce year-round.
The Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and La Quinta Certified Farmers Markets have specific requirements that vendors be inspected and certified by their county Department of Agriculture office. Many follow organic principles, such as utilizing natural predators to control destructive pests, eliminating the need for chemical insecticides that can remain in the soil for years.
“The farmers or producers must live and operate their farms within a 100-mile radius of the Coachella Valley,” says Megan Goehring, the manager of Palm Springs and Palm Desert certified farmers markets, which are operated by the Palm Springs Cultural Center.
Up to 30 merchants participate in each market, offering an array of seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables. This fall/winter, keep your eyes peeled for apples, persimmons, pumpkins, winter squashes, and pomegranates. “As we get into the later fall you’re going to see more winter squashes,” says Goehring. “And as winter progresses, we get tons of greens.”
The local farmers market scene offers much more than seasonal crops. In addition to the farms, markets also feature vendors who make artisanal foods by using farmers market produce in their products. “Generally they have to incorporate at least two items with small-farm produce in order to participate,” Goehring says. “But most of them do way more than that.” Goehring is especially excited about a new participating vendor this fall: Mrs. Claybaugh’s Kitchen. “She is going to be making sweet bread, which we haven’t had in the market before,” says Goehring. “She’s also going to make seasonally available pies, something I’m really looking forward to as well.”
Traditionally, farmers markets feature a collection of farmers who gather weekly to sell their crops. But the Certified Farmers Markets are working to create more of an experience for residents and visitors. “We are really trying to provide a place for people in the community to gather,” Goehring says. “Because we’re run by a nonprofit, our philosophy has to do with more than just selling produce. We’re hoping to become a great, fun community tradition wherein people meet at the market to go shopping, have dinner, and enjoy live entertainment.”
A Fruit for Every Season
FALL: apples, pomegranates (pictured at right), persimmons, pumpkins, and winter squash.
WINTER: Leafy greens (such as kale, chard, and spinach) and citrus fruits (such as mandarinquats, lemons, and grapefruits), as well as root vegetables.
SPRING: Strawberries, asparagus, artichokes, garlic scapes, fennel, and late spring cherries.
SUMMER: Peaches, melons, mangoes, tomatoes, corn, and peppers.
If You Go
Here is the schedule of the local certified farmers markets.
OUTDOOR MARKETS PALM SPRINGS
Saturdays, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
2300 E. Baristo Road (Outside Camelot Theaters)
Sundays, 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
78100 Main St. (in Old Town La Quinta)
Wednesdays, 4-8 p.m.
72559 Highway 111 (outside the Chamber of Commerce)