The Crescent City Farmers Market had a change of venue last Saturday, midway
through its 22-week schedule.
It ceded its usual space in the Del Norte County Fair parking lot to the fair itself.
“We tried one year to have the market (in the parking lot) during the fair,” said organizer Ron Phillips. “What a mess!”
Instead, Phillips used his clout as a former member of the Crescent City Harbor Commission to secure a location for the market further down U.S. Highway 101. He said the relocation only slightly affected the number of vendors participating.
Last Saturday featured 41 booths, a drop of about eight to 10, Phillips said.
In fact, the new location has its upside. “We get a different clientele here, with the nearby hotels and tourists,” he said.
The Crescent City Farmers Market under Phillips has continued to feature the tried and true, as well as new vendors.
John and Mary Ann Anderson have been bringing fresh fruit and vegetables from their farm in Montague, California every year since Philips took over as the market’s organizer in 2007. “We have a farmers market in Yreka, but it’s not like this one here,” said John Anderson. “This one is much better.
“The residents of Crescent City love getting the freshness of melons from the warmer country that you just don’t get in stores here.”
He admitted he also enjoys his trips to Del Norte County because he owns a little place in Brookings where he likes to fish a bit.
Phillips said that to balance the vendors who return each year, the Crescent City market proudly features first-timers. For example, ice-cream vendor Renni Loft.
Just 15 years old, Loft has been baking in her family’s kitchen since she was 3, making everything from brownies to pesto rolls, said her mom, Jenni. But it wasn’t until last year that Renni had the idea to turn the ice-cream maker she inherited from her grandfather into a moneymaker.
Over the next four to seven months, she perfected her recipes to debut at this season’s market.
Her research showed that an 8-oz. cup of ice cream usually sold for $6 to $8. So, she offered hers at $5 and $5.50.
Then, each Saturday she would offer four different flavors, including her favorite; mint chocolate chip. “It’s the easiest to make,” Renni said.
She recruited her family for help:
• Dad Reggie provided the muscle, delivering the freezer unit from Franks’ Refrigeration.
• Older sister Regin handled the money.
• Little brother RJ helped in the kitchen.
• And mom provided whatever onsite support was needed.
Since Renni’s market debut, said her mom, the young entrepreneur has never failed to sell all of her stock. “I’m just so grateful to the community for coming out and supporting me,” Renni said.
She said she plans to use her ice-cream sale proceeds to save for college and to help finance study abroad. “I want to go to Italian culinary school to learn the art of gelato making,” she added.
In his nearly two decades of running the Crescent City Farmers Market, Phillips said he’s seen many community members like Renni start young and move up
And, said Phillips, he’s making a move of his own. At the end of this season, he’ll retire and pass the organizer’s baton to Dawn Venturi, who has been volunteering at the market for the past three years.
“His are big shoes to fill,” said Venturi. “He’s more personable; I’ve more the pit bull.”
That said, “I like the people who make and sell their wares here,” Venturi acknowledged. “You can’t beat fresh produce, fresh meat.
“It’s a wonderful community thing. The farmers market is an awesome place to visit and bring the family and children.”
The Crescent City Farmers Market will return Aug. 10 to its usual location at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds parking lot, 421 U.S. Highway 101.
The market will continue there, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., through Oct. 28.