Twin Peaks Farmers Market celebrates 1st anniversary
By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
“We will be celebrating our first anniversary on March 8 at the Twin Peaks Farmers Market, with special totes, a new special $1 off on a special flavor kombucha and cups,” said Alex Vallejos, the manager of what can only be described as the most successful farmers market on the mountain.
“It was always about community and the community has embraced and supported this year-round farmers market,” he added. Until last week’s blizzard, they have only had to cancel twice for weather since they opened on Thursday, March 3, 2022. The winter hours are from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. During the summer, when the sunset is later, the marketplace is operated from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. every Thursday, weather permitting.
Many doubted a year-round outdoor farmers market could ever exist in the mountain communities, but the Twin Peaks Farmers Market has done more than simply exist – it has thrived and grown and expanded. That is probably because the Twin Peaks Farmers Market brings the best of Southern California’s 100-percent pesticide-free seasonal fruits and vegetables to the mountains. Vallejos has been able to attract vendors and farmers from Ontario and Tulare to provide mountain residents with the freshest produce he can find in the Southern California area.
Through the Twin Peaks Farmers Market Facebook page, Vallejos communicates with the customers and vendors on Tuesday of each week, gives the assurance that they will be open on Thursday and showcases the featured vendor of the week. This active communication with the vendors and customers gives everyone the confidence that the roads will be safe and that the customers know they will be there; all have responded they are happy with this method of information. They also have a weekly email newsletter they send out to those who sign up for it, so customers are completely aware of which vendors will be attending. Sign up at the website www.Twinpeaksfarmersmarket.com to be included to receive the newsletter or email them at [email protected].
Attendance at the marketplace has grown greatly over the year, increasing each week during the summer and fall and remaining steady over the late fall and winter this last year. The marketplace now has expanded from offering veggies only to adding select artisan booths in the front and back parking areas.
“Our first concern will always be the safety of everyone who patronizes and participates in our humble market. We are grateful to each one of you for being with us all summer and this winter, showing us that we can root ourselves in this little mountain of ours and grow it into something beautiful,” Vallejos added.
The Twin Peaks Farmers Market opened in the front parking lot of the Masonic Center at 26012 Highway 189 in Twin Peaks on March 3, 2022. The market is convenient for all mountain residents because it is centrally located in Twin Peaks, between Lake Arrowhead and Crestline, next door to the sheriff’s station on Highway 189.
The inside dining room of the Masonic Center is used for the Flying Squirrel Café, which opened last October. The café has proven to be a retreat from the elements when it is chilly outside. The Thursday afternoon marketplace has become so popular that additional parking was needed and is now available in back parking lot of the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station next door.
The Twin Peaks Farmers Market began with only fresh fruits, vegetables, seafood and fresh breads. After a short time, the customers requested more and Vallejos, from his past connections, was able to procure local artisans and artisan food producers to bring the customers a unique experience at the Twin Peaks Farmers Market. The most important part of the market is the variety of farmers attracted to this organic market.
“Some of the most delicious parts of living in California are the cornucopia of fruits and veggies that are grown so close to the mountain communities. This market is able to provide the freshest, cleanest, healthiest local fruits and veggies available, each week,” Vallejos said.
He insists that vendors abide by all the rules and policies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, California Department of Food and Agriculture, Department of Environmental Health, California Department of Public Health and regulations in place for outdoor farmers markets. This guarantees the food is wholesome, safe and pesticide free.
Vallejos added food trucks last summer, rotating the vendors weekly for variety’s sake, between Buddy’s BBQ, other barbecues, Mexican and Greek foods, The Jerk Grill, Riley’s Brand Vegan and other fresh food trucks.
“It is a fresh and unique, a completely new experience each week. I am excited for this next year, now that the people and other vendors in the county know about this marketplace and they want to come here with their special wares, and some are coming to shop,” added Vallejos.
Local artisan vendors, such as Miguel Torres Studio, Dusty Chick Ltd. and Wears the Mountain, are weekly supporters of the marketplace. The Twin Peaks Farmers Market looks for vendors who create something truly unique. The vendors also promise to use best-use practices in creating their items, attempting to protect the ecosystem. There is a rotation of farmers and vendors offering their produce, as their crops come into season. This is true of vendors as well, including those who make the delicious sauces, salsas, dips, kombucha, blueberry tarts, breads (some gluten free) and vegan selections. The atmosphere is family-friendly, with a wide variety of organic and fresh produce.
“I’m open to constructive criticism to make this marketplace the best it can be. I visit other markets and bring back the best ideas I can find,” said Vallejos.
A suggestion led to Vallejos to start the Flying Squirrel Café, which opened last October, with a variety of beverages, including Summit Teas, kombucha, fresh ground stone-proved and roasted coffees and more. He hopes when the weather improves to also move it outside. The special kombucha for this first anniversary celebration is Pina Flesca.
The market usually offers acoustic music each week, being sure none of the neighbors are bothered by the music. “We try to be conscious of the impact we make on the environment and the neighborhood too. We hope we bring a positive vibe to the area. We look to celebrate the rich agricultural history of San Bernadino by sharing local farms and producers with the San Bernadino Mountain community,” said Vallejos.
Some of the supporting vendors include Lupino Foods and Black Sheep Farms, which raises heirloom varieties from seed. “We are fortunate because Black Sheep does all the big farmers markets and they’ve chosen to support our market, too. We are proud we are pesticide free in all our produce. We are also happy when Mystic Manor brings their alpacas to the market to visit with the guests; the kids love them.
“Our goal with the farmers market is bringing smiles to our customers. When we see smiles it makes what we are creating worth it. The vibe of the mountain has attracted such a diverse group of individuals to live here, away from the city; we are pleased to be serving them. I appreciate every individual who comes to the market. We invite anyone who has not come to the market to come and see for themselves the excitement this market brings its customers and the community. I am honored the community has given us such support,” added Vallejos.