By Laura Brown

Triplicate Staff Writer

The steady hum of country life filled the air as local people came to buy fragrant herbs, flower bundles and fill their sacks with locally grown produce at the 3rd Street Farmers Market last Saturday.

I think a lot of people are waiting for it, said Gay McWhirter, a local resident who attended the event. I think its great for the community.

Pat and Bob Moreland from New Zealand stopped by the market and marvelled over vegetable varieties they had never seen before such as Italian beets and yellow chard. We saw this advertised at the Information Center. The Morelands are traveling in an R.V. on their way to Canada. It beats eating American hamburgers, they said with a laugh.

We bought tomatoes, radishes, irises, lots of plants. Its time to plant, said Celeste Schiffner who was back visiting Crescent City from the Fresno area. This is nice. Its little tourist type things that make it more personal.

Albert Graves was there with a bag of tomatoes and cucumbers in hand. He said he gardens at home but, cant seem to grow much.

Avalon Farms, an organic farm from Orleans displayed Chioggia beets with white and crimson rings inside, orange carrots, golden and emerald squash and yellow swiss chard. Wish I liked beets. They look so good, a woman could be overheard saying as she passed the stand.

The stand will be here every week, said Tom Perry of Avalon Farms. Avalon Farms is comprised of nearly six acres of farmland. We currently have five people working.

Avalon boasts using no pesticides on their fields. Alternative fertilizers such as processed chicken manure and cover crops are used instead of chemical varieties. Cover crops also known as green manure improve soil fertility by continually adding organic matter which increases water absorption and improves aeration.

Initially the beds are prepared by tractor, then they are all hand cultivated after that, Perry said.

At the Reese Hydroponic Tomato stand, plump, red tomatoes and long English cucumbers were quickly weighed and bagged for the lines of eager people who couldnt wait to take them home and gobble them up with a simple sprinkling of salt.

The event seemed to benefit both vendors and buyers alike.

We sold out in an hour and a half, said Jill Dovre, who came to the market with her husband Kevin Hendrick with 30 pints of strawberries. This is good for us. We can sign people up for you-pick.

Dovre and Hendricks strawberry farm is also organic. We share them with the bugs, said Hendrick. We let the ducks and chickens loose in winter to take care of slugs.

The Dutch Gardener is a landscape contracting team made up of wife and husband Teri McCune-Oostra and Kees Oostra. This is our first year. We are testing to see what people want, McCune-Oostra said. Old fashioned English perennials and pungent herbs cascaded out of baskets and buckets. Fresh pesto was also for sale.

Because of health inspector regulations there were no taste samples of the pesto but sniff samples were just as effective in selling the savory green paste.

Three 6th-grade boys were present at market day to sell things they had grown at Crescent Elk School Garden. Ive been interested in it my whole life. My next door neighbor had a big garden, said Andrew Andy Ramsey. Among the many vegetables that they grew, they also planted zinnias in the green house. They are almost taller than the teacher, said Bryan Opbroek.

People cooked it (vegetables) for lunch. Then we started giving lettuce to the lunch cafeteria, said Arturo Padilla. Ramsey said he especially liked learning how everything was grown and when it came time to harvest. Its good to know where food came from. It tastes better than in the store, said Ramsey.

I like to be here because its good exposure, said Barbara Tryon as she sat in her patio chair among potted plants.

Plants are happy and they put a smile on peoples faces. I enjoy being part of a new enterprise. Ive always enjoyed the farmers market.

I thought it was great. Thought it was very successful, said Amber Lucerro the Market Manager.

Its good weve been busy. People are chattin. Nice community atmosphere, said Tara Johnson who has a small vegetable and herb nursery in conjunction with her husbands employment with Sun Valley Floral.

Fresh cut flowers such as Iris, Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies and tulips waited in tubs of water around the booth. We concentrate on things for Del Norte County. We grew tired and frustrated over things that didnt grow well. Johnsons bulbs and tomato plants are special varieties that are well suited to a coastal climate.

People wishing to schedule an appointment to visit The Dutch Gardeners farm should call 465-5373 or 954-2239.

To visit the you-pick strawberry farm call 464-2254. Musicians interested in participating in the farmers market can call the Chamber of Commerce at 464-3174.